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Qatar

A two day trip to Qatar

Day One

I have actually lost count of how many times we have been to Qatar, but, despite a multitude of visits, I have only just added it to my countries I have visited list. Why? Because we have just constantly transited its airport, until our last visit when we finally ventured to the world outside. I have been nagging my husband to do this for some time, but with the recent removal of visa restrictions for many nationalities, we finally managed it.

We flew to Doha from Athens - a fairly short flight, around four hours - which took place at night. Thus, we arrived at an ungodly hour of the morning, shattered from very little sleep, but with hours until we could check in to our hotel.

Doha Hamad International Airport.

Doha Hamad International Airport.

Doha Hamad International Airport.

Doha Hamad International Airport.

Doha Hamad International Airport.

Doha Hamad International Airport.

As we had luggage (we had just arrived from a week in Athens), we did not want to wander around until hotel check in time, so we spent a few hours still in the airport, though this time on the arrivals rather than transit side. We particularly liked the oryx statues on this side of the airport. The oryx is a type of deer and the symbol of Qatar and its airline. We changed money, an experience in itself, and drank coffee and waited until we felt it was finally a reasonable time to take a Karwa taxi cab to our hotel, The Grand Mercure, Doha. The drive to the hotel was not very inspiring. My first impression was of dusty, nearly empty streets, a few men, not a woman in sight. My impression got worse later, then better and better.

The oryx, Doha Hamad International Airport.

The oryx, Doha Hamad International Airport.

Check in was friendly and although we were early, we had no problems at all getting into our room. Our room was comfortable, clean and cosy. We had free water, free teas and coffees, a safe, a balcony, a bath and a shower.

Our Room, The Grand Mercure, Doha.

Our Room, The Grand Mercure, Doha.

We had a look around the hotel. It had a lovely pool, though when I used it, I must admit it was freezing, a British style pub/restaurant, The Old Manor Steakhouse, on the roof and more Christmas decorations in the lobby than we had seen in the whole of Greece.

Swimming pool.

Swimming pool.

View from the pool.

View from the pool.

Christmas decorations.

Christmas decorations.

Christmas decorations.

Christmas decorations.

We spent the few remaining daylight hours of our first afternoon exploring the Souq Waqif market area. When we left the hotel, we realised that the hotel was in the centre of a huge construction site. I think this is because a metro is being built here. The construction workers stared at us as if we had just flown in from a different planet. Personally, I decided the best course of action was to block them out as if they did not exist. It is hardly my fault they have never seen westerners before. I was dressed in a long skirt and long sleeved jacket, not exactly skimpy attire. I am pleased to say the actual Qataris themselves do not stare and are perfectly friendly.

We wandered around the Souq Waqif on both days of our stay and kept finding more and more interesting things. It is a delightful place to visit with lots of restaurants and shops and lovely old style buildings. It merges with other souqs, too, such as, the Gold Souq and the Falcon Souq. Before we reached the market, we passed quite an attractive mosque. I think it was Al Bukhari Mosque, though I am not certain that is the right name.

Al Bukhari Mosque.

Al Bukhari Mosque.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

Souq Waqif.

After exploring the market, we returned to the hotel to eat. I would have liked to eat in the market, but we wanted beer with our meal and that necessitated a hotel as by Qatari law only hotels can sell alcohol. our hotel had several restaurants, but we ate in the Old Manor Steak House, the bar staff here were very nice and the food was good, too. On our first night I had a plate of lamb chops. My husband had shepherd's pie. We were given crisps, popcorn and bread to tide us over till the food came.

The Old Manor Steak House.

The Old Manor Steak House.

Posted by irenevt 00:17 Archived in Qatar Tagged qatar Comments (6)

Continuing our two day trip to Qatar

Day Two

We had been really tired the night before and after eating and drinking our fill at the Old Manor Steak House, we had gone to bed early and slept really, really well, so we were able to get up early to maximize the day. We started with a wonderful breakfast at our hotel. I say wonderful because, while I eat nothing at all for breakfast when I am at home, when I am on holiday, I really enjoy main course style breakfasts. Here I had small quantities of chicken curry, vegetable curry, daal, rice and cheese borek. My husband had cereal, bread and cheese - how boring!!! Though to be fair he did also try the lentil soup.

In the breakfast room.

In the breakfast room.

Suitably full, we ventured out. We headed back towards Souq Waqif. I liked the look of the building in the distance with its spiral minaret. This turned out to be the mosque of the Islamic Cultural Centre.

Looking towards the Islamic Cultural Centre.

Looking towards the Islamic Cultural Centre.

This time we visited Al Koot Fort which is located nearby the market area. This fort was built in 1927 by Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, who ruled Qatar from 1913 until 1949. Apparently it is now a museum, but it was closed when we visited.

Al Koot Fort.

Al Koot Fort.

At the far end of the market we found an interesting square with a replica of an old Qatari well.

The old well.

The old well.

We also viewed the Islamic Cultural Centre from closer up before heading off to the corniche. We had to pass through a lovely green park area to reach the Corniche.

The Islamic Cultural Centre.

The Islamic Cultural Centre.

Park.

Park.

The Corniche is a seven kilometre long waterfront promenade. Obviously we only walked part of it. There were wonderful views of wooden sailing dhows and the distant skyline of the central business district. There is also a huge sculpture of an open oyster with a pearl inside it. Prior to the 1940s pearl diving was a major industry in Qatar.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche.

Oyster and Pearl.

Oyster and Pearl.

Oyster and Pearl.

Oyster and Pearl.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche.

Doha Corniche

Doha Corniche

We headed along the Corniche in the direction of the very impressive Museum of Islamic Arts Building. This was designed by the Chinese American architect I. M. Pei when he was ninety-one years old. The museum is built on an island near the traditional dhow harbour. Entry to the museum is free. The museum is home to manuscripts, carpets, ceramics, weapons, jewellery and paintings. These items come from Spain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India, and Central Asia. The exterior and interior of the building are both absolutely wonderful to see.

Museum of Islamic Arts.

Museum of Islamic Arts.

Museum of Islamic Arts.

Museum of Islamic Arts.

Inside the museum.

Inside the museum.

Inside the museum.

Inside the museum.

Inside the museum.

Inside the museum.

Inside the museum.

Inside the museum.

Museum of Islamic Art.

Museum of Islamic Art.

Outside the museum there was another interesting fountain made of water pots.

Fountain.

Fountain.

After visiting the museum we strolled along the Corniche more then wandered through the park near the Corniche towards the parliament building and the clock tower. We got told off for going too close to this so crossed the road away from it then found some Arabian horses and the Falcon Souq.

The Corniche.

The Corniche.

The Corniche.

The Corniche.

The Corniche.

The Corniche.

The Corniche.

The Corniche.

Parliament, Clock Tower and Mosque.

Parliament, Clock Tower and Mosque.

Parliament, Clock Tower and Mosque.

Parliament, Clock Tower and Mosque.

Park and Islamic Cultural Centre.

Park and Islamic Cultural Centre.

Horses.

Horses.

Falcon Souq.

Falcon Souq.

Falcon Souq.

Falcon Souq.

Gold Souq.

Gold Souq.

Market at night.

Market at night.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Then we wandered back through the market at night and home in the dark , which was not easy as the construction near the hotel had taken over the pavements and we had to walk on a rather busy road in the dark. Not a lot of fun, but we survived it. Once we were home, we ate in the same restaurant as the night before.

I am already looking forward to our next visit to Doha, as there is lots more to see and we enjoyed this initial trip very much.

Posted by irenevt 01:11 Archived in Qatar Comments (4)

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