This will be the first of a number of “catch up” posts.
The Internet lies. It lied to me about the hours that Souq Waqif is open. It was probably right about most days, but the web sites I read didn’t mention that Fridays are of importance to Muslim people and therefore hours change on Fridays.
So I headed out to arrive at Souq Waqif around 9 am, because the restaurants were allegedly open then, with the shops opening at 10. I did find an open restaurant, thank goodness. I ate something recommended by the waiter, and ordered way too much food. I thought it cost less than it did because I misread the menu. Ah well, it was still okay. The food itself was quite tasty. Basically combinations of bread, cheese and herbs.
So afterward I wandered around a virtually deserted Souq with the occasional man looking at me as though I had sprouted horns. Kinda like, what on earth are you doing here right now. 10:30 – none of the stores were opened. 11 – still closed. 11:30 – I’m dying of heat stroke (with humidity factor it was probably around 123 at the time) and tried walking the mile back to the hotel, but google maps didn’t realize a road was closed for construction so I was rerouted way out of my way by helpful construction dudes.
Interlude: Guess what you don’t really see on the streets or in the buses of Doha? Women. It is very eerie. I did see women (mostly foreign) when I revisited the Souq at night. But I’d say the male to female ratio was 10 to 1 at the best of times. As a person presenting as a woman, it felt more than a little weird.
Back to the story. I did finally arrive at my hotel and I really did not want to leave again. So I completely gave up my idea of visiting Katara Village (which would require a cab ride) and just rested and rehydrated for most of the afternoon. I checked out and they stowed my luggage downstairs. Then I went out (took a cab this time) and experienced the best part of my brief trip to Doha – the Museum of Islamic Art. It was a beautiful museum with lovely and interesting art that I hadn’t really seen before, it was air-conditioned, and it was free. Couldn’t have much more going for it than that.
Anyway, I wandered the Souq a bit after the Museum. I failed miserably at my attempt to buy something. He gave a price that I thought was really too high and I was too freaked out to try to do what I was supposed to do and offer a lower price. So I just said no thank you and left. I suck at being a world traveler. I did walk home from the Souq the second time because this time I knew the right route. And the sun had gone down so it was only 95° F or so.
I went ahead and ate again at the hotel restaurant – just some hummus – not too imaginative but it was the cheapest (hotel restaurant prices, don’t you know). Then I had a cab take me to the airport. Except for the first long bumpy ride from the airport, I never used the transit card I bought. I really didn’t learn my lesson when I got to New Delhi, but you’ll read about that in a future post.