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.
- Awesome art to look at (I’ll post later… Doing this post on my phone.)
- Great architecture.
- Not terribly crowded.
- Absolutely free.
- They are open when they say they are (unlike the shops of Souk Waqif where I almost suffered heat stroke waiting for the shops to open this morning. They never did. I think it’s a Friday thing, but the web sites were very contradictory and unclear on this.
- There are actually female presenting persons here other than myself.
I’ve made a lot of neophyte errors thus far in my journey. Hopefully, my learning curve will not be too steep. Just thought I’d take a rest from walking around for a quick post.
I took off from O’Hare around 7:30pm after enjoying a lovely farewell lunch/dinner with Pete at the Ram near where I used to work (where he still does). I was incorrectly told I needed to wait in a long Qatar Airways line (even though I questioned it), but was sent to a much shorter line when I progressed as far as a second “official” who actually knew what she was talking about. The TSA line was hell, as always. By comparison, getting through customs in Doha was like a warm knife in butter.
The flight was pretty darned booked up. I didn’t really talk with the people sharing my area – not sure if they knew English. But they seemed nice anyway. The food on Qatar Airways was phenomenal compared to any other airline food I’ve ever had.
Long flight. One interesting note – the elderly Indian couple sitting across the aisle from me never put on their seat belts and no one ever said a word.
Hamad Airport was huge, clean, gorgeous, and pretty much empty.
I eventually figured out how to get some local money and a public bus that connected to another bus that ultimately got me to the area of the hotel. It was pretty scary. I thought Chicago bus drivers were nuts – these guys … I have no idea how they are not constantly hitting one another. There was crazy (rush hour?) traffic when I was on the bus and everyone (including the bus drivers) were darting in and out, slamming on the gas and brake, all over the place. I got a little banged up.
Despite the “ladies area” on the bus, I was the only female presenting person on the first bus and there were only two others on the second bus (they were together and sat in the first row – they seemed of Southeast Asian descent). Another weird thing. It was completely dark out by 7 pm – checked the internet and sunset was at 6. Wasn’t expecting that.
I got checked in and puttered around my room deciding whether I wanted to brave the still oppressive heat, my increasing weariness, the darkness and the crazy drivers to go out again tonight. Eventually decided against it and went to the hotel and had a nummy eggplant hors d’oeuvre dish. Now I’m getting ready for bed. Hope the heat doesn’t keep me from doing the things I have planned for tomorrow. I have a lot more respect for the soldiers who serve(d) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even basic living in the gulf has got to be incredibly challenging if you are not used to this heat – let alone the horrific war stuff.
Do you want to know what I’m up to on my travels? Read my blog. That’s the theory.
I have had a blog before. I have been awful about writing. I’ve been on trips before and have been awful about posting photos and updates in a timely manner. I hope to make things different on this trip.
I tried to do a little preliminary practice to learn how to upload photo galleries, create and update posts, etc, but I don’t promise that I will do this correctly right out of the gate. For people interested in my travels, there are a few areas you might find interesting.
First, I will be blogging as I travel, and the home page should have the most recent 3-5 posts. If you want to delve further back than that, there is a “Blog Archives” dropdown on the menu.
Second, there is a cool itinerary page called 2017 Travel Map. I have mapped my tentative itinerary and will make alterations as plans change. If you scroll to the bottom of the map, there will be a city list of the rough itinerary. It will show both past history and future plans. Theoretically, I will be able to link relevant blog posts to the map. We’ll see how that goes.
Third, I will post photo galleries as I go and link to (or embed) the relevant gallery from any given blog post.
Finally, I may start rambling about random topics, that are only tangentially related to my travels.
Please let me know if there are things I can do to improve the usability of the site. I’m not sure exactly how to let me know – I think there’s a contact link somewhere.
Anyway – got to get finishing packing. The flight leaves in less than 10 hours. Yikes.
Don’t have a lot of time to write right now, since I’m getting ready to leave the country tomorrow. Aaarrrggghh – tomorrow. Already. Yikes. Well, I’m getting off topic. More on that in a post later today or tomorrow.
This is a brief inaugural post of my new blog. Pete, Erin and I went down to Princeton, KY (via Evansville, IN, where we stayed Sunday night) to see the solar eclipse within the band of totality!
In brief – it was AWESOME! Freaky. Crickets started chirping en mass at 1:20 in the afternoon as though it were twilight. I looked at the sun! I looked at it chomping up the moon like pacman on a dot. The people in the Princeton First Baptist Church parking lot came from all over the place and were, for one brief shiny moment, one big, giggly, geeky family.
The long journey home was surreal. Depending on how you calculate it, between 11 and 13 hours for a 5 hr 45 min trip.
Not sure how this works but I will attempt to include a pretty lame photo gallery below. Pete and Erin took the best photos and videos. I’ll see if I can add a couple more here.