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Doha Layover 2: Day in Doha

We arrived into Doha around midnight after our six hour flight from Dar.
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Rather than immediately get on another flight, I booked two nights in a hotel in Doha so we could shower, sleep, and see a little of the city. Otherwise, the long journey back is way too arduous. A taxi brought us to Hotel Al Bidda where we checked into our room and crashed.
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We were feeling a little more rested by morning and we had breakfast at the hotel. They had a huge buffet.
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Just around the corner from the hotel was the famous Souq shopping area. This is a huge area with stalls selling clothes, food, animals (unfortunately), and all manner of everything. We ventured out and walked around a bit but we couldn't take it very long. Even before noon, the temperature was so hot it was almost unbearable and I was sweating just from walking around. At least the gold stores were air conditioned so after buying a necklace/earrings, we went back to the hotel to cool off.
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On recommendation of the hotel and because it was air conditioned, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the National Museum of Qatar. It was quite a ways away but conveniently for us, Uber was available. The outside of the museum was incredibly beautiful.
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The exhibits inside were pretty nice as well.
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We stopped at the museum cafe for a drink afterwards. I thought this water installation looked cool.
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We tried to take an Uber back to the hotel but after picking us up, the driver claimed not to know where the hotel was. I was able to remember an area very near so we just had him drop us off there and we walked back. The streets of Doha are cleaner than you can imagine. Not only is there no trash but there also seems to be no dust or dirt. I saw why as we were walking back to the hotel. This guy was literally mopping the sidewalk!
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Time to rest again...the heat just sucked every ounce of energy out of us. As it was getting dark, we walked around the corner to the camel enclosure where the police camels live. This was the area directly around our hotel.
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They camel enclosure was closed to the public but they allowed us to come in and meet and feed the camels for a few minutes.
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I think they were having a conversation.
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After leaving the camels, we wanted to walk to the waterfront and go on a dhow boat ride around the harbor. To get there, we needed to cross a very busy street. I knew there was a tunnel that ran underneath but we couldn't figure out how to get there. A man was walking by at the time so I asked him for directions to the tunnel. Of course, he offered to show us. I was leery at first but there were tons of people around so we said ok. He said that he was from Egypt but currently living in Doha. We followed him through the tunnel and when we reached the other side, thanked him, and parted ways.

At the entrance to the harbor is a giant pearl monument. It pays tribute to Qatar's early days of pearl hunting before the more lucrative discovery of oil.
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We found a dhow offering rides around the harbor and boarded. It looked like we were the only people on board what was in no way a luxury boat.
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At the last second pulling away from shore, the Eqyptian guy who gave us directions jumped from shore on board. My heart stopped. He came and sat next to us. He was aggressive and harassing even after I told him I was married (I am not). We went upstairs to the roof in order to get away from him and try to enjoy the scenery.
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Brenda and I were discussing what we would do when the boat docked and how we would get away from this guy without him following us. Suddenly he appeared on the roof. By now, I was getting very uncomfortable so we went downstairs and I tried to communicate with the boat captain (who spoke little English) what was happening and that this guy was scaring us. The boat captain, who was small and young, maybe even a kid, came to our defense. He said something to the guy in Arabic and when we docked, the guy immediately jumped off the boat. I had already called an Uber and it was waiting for us so we could hop in immediately and not be followed. But first, I gave the boat captain a huge tip. It was so much that he ran after me telling me we overpaid. I tried to explain to him how much he helped us and how thankful we were.

We were shaken but hungry so we went on to dinner at Al Shurfa, across the road from our hotel. We ate on the patio overlooking the square.
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We both kept a lookout for the Eqyptian guy but thankfully never saw him again. We walked back to the hotel after dinner and spent the rest of the evening packing and preparing for our last, long flight at 8a the next day. Although we had that scary experience, we did really enjoy our time in Doha and we arrived home safely the next day.

Posted by zihuatcat 22:26 Archived in Qatar Tagged tanzania doha brenda Comments (1)

Doha Layover 1: Just One Night

Back to Africa, baby!

As usual, trip planning started a year ago for me and Brenda to return to Africa. Normally, I would choose to visit a different country but Tanzania is so big and there were still some parks I wanted to visit for the first time. The full itinerary:

Thursday, June 13 - Fly to Doha.
Friday, June 14 - Arrive in Doha. Long layover.
Saturday, June 15 - Arrive in Dar and overnight.
Sunday, June 16 - Fly to Ruaha National Park and spend four nights.
Thursday, June 20 - Fly to Katavi National Park and spend four nights.
Monday, June 24 - Fly to Mafia Island and spend five nights.
Saturday, June 29 - Fly back to Dar and overnight.
Sunday, June 30 - Fly back to Doha and spend two nights.
Tuesday, July 2 - Fly home.

A few days before leaving, on Sunday afternoon while I was packing, straight line winds came thru Dallas unexpectedly and knocked out the power. It was a sunny day. There were no storms. It was the weirdest thing. Even more weird was that the power outage and wind damage was city wide. Power at my house did not come back on until Wednesday night. In the meantime, I stayed at my friend Melissa's house so that I could have a/c and light. I was grateful it came back on before leaving so that I didn't have to worry about it.

Because Brenda is sometimes on her own time schedule when it comes to making planes and it was several hundred dollars cheaper per ticket, I decided to drive to Houston so we could fly together. I left about 10a on Thursday morning and met her at our mutual friend's house in Madisonville where she would leave her car. We then made our way to Houston (thru horrendous construction on the highway) and arrived at the airport for our 14 hour flight.
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At the Qatar counter checkin, I learned for the first time that our carry-on had a 15lb weight limit. This was a problem since my camera equipment alone was 7lb. So Brenda and I had to do some re-shuffling of things between us but we finally got the problem solved.

We grabbed some dinner at the airport and boarded our flight. Unfortunately, Qatar changed our seat assignments from two aisle seats across from each other to two seats in the middle of a five across. I was not pleased. Luckily, after a dinner of beef peppercorn and potatoes au gratin and two movies, I was still able to get 6-7 hours of sleep.

We arrived in Doha the next day at 5p local time. We breezed thru immigration and currency exchange and our hotel transfer was waiting outside. We stopped in a very busy shopping area at a drug store to get some Flonase for Brenda and arrived at our hotel, the St. Regis, at 730p.
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Bathroom entrance
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Some very dry snacks waiting in the room for us.
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We both needed a shower before dinner but it took the hotel almost 45 minutes to deliver our luggage to the room. We should have done it ourselves. So we had to settle for just changing clothes and sprucing up.
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We were in Doha at the hottest time of the year. At 8p, it was still 102 degrees outside.

We had an 830p reservation downstairs at Restaurant Opal, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and our reason for staying at the St. Regis. It was freezing cold inside the restaurant which was basically empty.
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We started with a sushi appetizer which we shared.
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Brenda had seared fish.
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I had beef wellington, the restaurant's specialty.
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The food was ok, not to the caliber I was expecting and service was beyond slow. Or maybe we were just tired and cranky after such a long travel day(s).

After dinner we walked along the pool area and admired the view.
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It was around midnight when we fell into bed. We had a 9a flight but a 6a airport pick up. I didn't sleep at all. Our neighbors talked all night long and at 4a, the alarm went off playing Arab music so loud it could have waked the dead. We couldn't figure out how to turn it off so we had to unplug it. I hope it woke up the noisy neighbors.

I got some departing pictures in the daylight just before our driver whisked us away to the airport.
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We found an open breakfast place at the airport and Brenda ordered french toast.
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I ordered eggs benedict which came with guacamole and asparagus which was...weird...but ok.
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We boarded our flight and then it was off to Tanzania!

Posted by zihuatcat 01:07 Archived in Qatar Tagged safari qatar doha brenda Comments (0)

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