Stuck in the Middle – Day Two

I was still very apprehensive as I woke up this morning. Hubby still wasn’t feeling that well. I was ravenously hungry but didn’t want to go out on my own.

After a little while hubby had a shower and felt well enough to explore the hotel with me, to see if there was somewhere we could get breakfast.

We ended up at the hotel restaurant where they were serving a buffet breakfast for 49 Qatari Riyal which is about $18.34 AUD.
We hadn’t eaten since about late morning the day before so we were very hungry!

They had such a great selection of food! I don’t know why but I felt uncomfortable taking photos in there so I didn’t. Everyone there was so helpful. They just couldn’t do enough for us, asking us if we wanted coffees and bringing it to us even though we were in a buffet restaurant.


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After breakfast we went to the top floor to check out the pool and the views.

Pretty nice views!
We were told there was an indoor pool here but there are no walls around/no roof above the pool and I’m pretty sure that’s what indoor means.

This is the sign outside the spa room. Separate times for men and women! Although, outside of those times, both men and women can be in there together.

Hubby and I walked outside despite the fact that it was almost 40 degrees Celsius at 9am. We went down to the water and snapped some pictures. NOBODY else was about. They’re smart here these people.


We started walking in the direction of the Souq Waqif markets when a cab driver stopped and asked if we wanted a driver. We said no. He then said the markets were closed and not due to open again until 4pm, and he offered to drive us around. He was very very persistent and it was HOT, so when he said “just hop in the cab and I’ll show you where I can take you and for what price”.
So we went in and he convinced us to be our driver for the next three hours. He already had a “tour” planned so off we went.
He wanted 350 Riyal for his time. We talked him down to 280 but I still think that was too much. In any case we were in and he seemed like a really nice guy.

I took a couple of pics as we drove.

That’s his cab there bottom right. It was comfortable.
He stopped here and there for me to take some pictures. He was very informative about DoHa but most of the information he said I haven’t retained.


This is a VERY impressive place!! Very new. Everything is new and more and more is being built.  You can see that there is no one around. It’s just too hot.

I thought it was funny how he and hubby both talked with their hands. I was sitting at the back and watched as they mirrored each other.


At one place there was a board up with references to the signs of the zodiac. I was surprised to see that in such a religious place.

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There is a lot of references to Italy here and I also noticed a lot of programs on tv in Italian. The driver said there is a “little Venice” section of DoHa and it is so pretty!! So colourful and has little canals through it.
Not a soul to be seen on the streets though!

I can’t remember the name of this next place that the taxi driver took us too. Honestly, he had told us about a mall – Villaggio Mall – that I really wanted to go to. I could have easily missed this next stop and had him take us to the mall but I think he really didn’t want to go there. If you hover over “Villaggio Mall” it will take you to the website and you can see the cool pictures of it.

In any case he didn’t take us there, he took us to some cultural place. I think that’s what he said. I honestly can’t remember. There’s a mosque there which is quite distinctive and I took a picture of the front of it. There’s also a pretty cool looking auditorium. Everything looks like it’s come out of The Flintstones.


IMG_7675We were supposed to meet the driver back in 30 minutes but we kind of lost our way.

There were golf carts that were driving people around and the driver said these were free so we approached one and I showed him a picture of the mosque and said
“Can you take us back there?”

Thank you Mr Nice Man.

Next stop was a famous mosque. Our driver wanted us to go and take pictures inside. He said I needed to go around the back to the women’s entrance and I would have to change my clothes into what they wear (forgot the name sorry) but then it would be ok to go in and take pictures.

It was really too hot to think about getting changed into anything and I don’t know how I feel about the whole male/female thing so we just went up and took some pictures of the mosque and the city from the mosque, then came down again.


IMG_7677If you can see it, that last picture is the one showing the way to the women’s entrance.

Oh look (pic right), these signs are all over the place showing you where it’s safer to cross the road.

After all this, our driver said for another 70 Riyal, he would take us to the Villagio Mall and leave us there. We’d have to make our own way back and a taxi back from there he estimated would be about 40 Riyal.  So he wanted about $26 AUD on top of the $105 AUD we’ve already given him, to be left at a mall far from our place.

We decided then we’d get him to take us to City Centre Mall which is closer to where we’re staying. He kept telling us it wasn’t worth going there but that’s where we insisted we wanted to be left so we went. He dropped us there, took our money, and went.

Later on, when we got a taxi back from there to our place, the driver said that most drivers can be hired for about 65 Riyal an hour. That’s about $25 AUD an hour. We had our guy for 2 1/2 hours at $110AUD. We got ripped! Ah well..

And turns out City Centre Mall was quite ok! With an ice skating rink in it too.


They even had a Tim Hortons there.
We cooled off, had something to eat, and had a look around.

Once we were back in the room, we decided to use the pool facilities. YES both of us went in the pool!! Because we left our phones behind there is no photographic evidence.

We were hoping it had cooled down a bit (insert laughter here) and walked down to the Souq Waqif markets at about 7pm. It was still stifling hot. Even though it was “only” 32 degrees, it was really humid. The air was thick and heavy and there was a strong smell of spice in the air.

The stuff there was so interesting! But the second you look at something, the owner of the stall comes out super excited that he’s going to make a sale. And sometimes you just want to look! And they just seem so desperate to want to make a sale. I feel bad! I can’t buy from every one so I bought from none.

I loved those dresses in the bottom pic!!
Some of these style dresses were expensive but others were really cheap. I was tempted to buy one but where would I wear it?

Hubby and I had some food at a local place – that is – a place full of locals. The food was so cheap we were worried there was something wrong with it but it was so tasty!! And as always, I ordered better than hubby!! Look how big my noodle plate is compared to his little kebab wrap thingie.

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It was just so tasty!

I’m glad we spent today here in Doha. We’ve seen a lot of new things and seen an incredibly different culture.

Tonight will be our last night in a strange bed. I’m looking forward to being home.
Love seeing new things but there’s no place like home.

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Stuck in the Middle – Day Three

Our last day away and I can assure you, there will be no “surprises” after today. The next bed I’m going to sleep in will be my own!

I wanted to share another photo from last night. This was taken from the top of our hotel.

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Very nice views from up there!

Oh and a few other things from yesterday, we were talking to one of the servers in the restaurant here about the weather. He was saying they get temperatures of 50-55 degrees Celsius in the Summer!!! Then he added “It’s not too bad now, 42/43”
What?? That’s crazy! Who could ever say that 42/43 Celsius is not too bad!

And we asked our driver yesterday what the haze over the city was. Was it smog? Sand? He said no, they don’t really get sandstorms here. He thought it might be “something from the sea” which sounded pretty vague. I had a quick google and found out that DoHa is one of the most polluted cities in the world. This was one site I clicked on
http://aqicn.org/country/qatar/

Some other observations, even though everyone says there is no dress code for Westerners, I felt uncomfortable as a woman. Sometimes I think they say what they hope to be true, rather than what is true.
I was mostly covered up while I was here but you’re walking among people who are really covered up, and being white and blonde, I felt like I stuck out even more.
Just knowing people usually dress a different way made me feel uncomfortable. I know I’m not articulating this correctly and this is no reflection on the people here, everyone we interacted with was very nice but some of the looks we got made me uncomfortable at times.

Oh and there is a metal detector at the entrance of our hotel. Every time we have to go in or out, we need to go through it.

This morning we had breakfast at our hotel restaurant again and this time I took a few pictures.

 


We found out that there is a man there cooking up eggs the way you want them as you order them. They were so nice! I felt like we were eating so much and that everyone was looking at the gluttonous westerners. We wanted to make it last though as we weren’t eating again until late afternoon at the airport.

Everyone has been recommending the Museum of Islamic Art and it’s free and very close to our hotel so we went there this morning. You need to walk through a security scanning thing similar to what is at the airport to enter.
Again, no one on the streets!! Just a few workers as we approached the building.
The building itself is quite impressive!

 


Equally impressive inside.

 

 

They brought out these little sesame seed biscuit things with the coffee. They were so good!!

I took a few pictures of some of the exhibits inside. Not sure you can read the sign explaining what the exhibit is.

 

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Our shuttle back to the airport is booked for 3pm and as it’s too hot to do anything, we went back to the hotel and relaxed.

 


Our flight was not until 8pm though so we had a lot of time at the airport to wander around and see what’s here.
Again, this is an impressive building. It just seems like they’ve got money to throw around here at anything!

And I finally got to take a picture of the teddy bear! I think that’s what it is.It’s not the only large thing here either.

 

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I also took a pic while we were in the shuttle.

I realised later it didn’t take us very far and we could have easily walked it.

 

I just wanted to share a few more pictures from our plane. We were able to view outside of it via some camera and it made for some pretty interesting viewing during the landing!


That brings this vacation to an end.

Thank you for reading about our adventures and I welcome any comments you may have.

Kalinychta

Buona Notte

Tusbih ealaa khayr

Stuck in the Middle – Day One

The title is a little misleading, we’re not “stuck”, we chose to come here.
We wanted to break up the looooooong trip back to Australia.

So where are we? Well, it’s HOT. There’s lots of sand and few Westerners. Oh, and did I mention that it’s HOT!!

Before I get to that, I just want to share some last photos from Rome as we left this morning. When we were on the bus I got sad about leaving but before then, I was too worried about our safety as we walked through a bit of a sketchy area. You would not believe the homeless here and the condition they are in. Half dressed, slumped in their own … well I’ll leave that right there and won’t finish that sentence. I wasn’t sure if they were all alive. It’s a very, very sad situation.

So just a few photos from the bus as we left, including driving towards the Colosseum for one last glimpse.

 

 

We arrived at the airport with what we thought was plenty of time. Because hubby works for an airline, we get discounted airfares with partnered airlines and Qatar happens to be one of them. Sometimes there are conditions though and what we didn’t know was that there is a strict guideline on what staff can wear when travelling on Qatar.

 

We lined up in what we thought was a short line, but everyone had about fifty bags and it just took so long before we were at the check in counter.
Still, we thought we had time.

The lady who was checking us in asked us for our residency papers (for Qatar) or for our exit ticket. As hubby normally buys his tickets a day or so before we fly, we didn’t yet have an exit ticket.
No problem, the airport has free WiFi so we left the counter and went away to buy our tickets from DoHa to Australia.

With that done we were back at the check in counter but this time, the worker asked if hubby, who was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, had read the dress code because she wasn’t going to be able to give him a boarding pass with what he had on.
Hubby said he had some jeans in his luggage would that be ok? The worker said yes so we got our bags back off the belt and went to find bathrooms. He changed into his jeans, came out and we lined up again.
This time (a different worker) again asked if he had other clothes as he wasn’t meeting the dress code. She brought out the card with the dress code again. As it turns out, jeans as NOT ok.

Luckily, he had some slacks in the luggage so again, we took the bags off the belt and he rushed off to change into his dress pants. At this stage he still had his t-shirt on so while he was walking away I asked the worker if the t-shirt was ok. She said no, he’d need a shirt.

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He was too far away for me to call him and I couldn’t leave our bags out in the middle of nowhere so I took out a shirt from the luggage and hoped he’d be able to wear it over his t-shirt. Unfortunately it was terribly wrinkled but he/we had no choice! So as he walked back I held up the shirt and said “You have to put this on now”  What else could have gone wrong!!

We still weren’t cleared. The worker had to check with her supervisor Mauro and by now, the check in counter was closing…
Seeing as it was an hour before the flight we thought we still had lots of time though.

We were finally cleared and with our boarding passes tightly in hand, went to find our gates. The line up through security was long… but we got through that. The guy who checked our passports seemed to be on another planet. Probably just enjoyed some green stuff… He was slow and on the verge of laughter. We wouldn’t have cared if we weren’t rushing to make our gate.

Finally we were through that… and we walked, and walked and walked and our gate kept getting further and further away (it seemed)
Finally we thought, here it is! around the corner! But no, it was only a shuttle, taking us to another part of the airport. There was one about to leave so we jumped on and hubby said “is this taking us the right way?” er…. didn’t check that but luckily it was and we were at the gates a short time later. The flight was boarding when we got there!

4724f077a9ea9e9dc3f53a10ecd4411b.jpgAfter five and a half long hours we were finally in DoHa.
It’s hard to know what to write in all honesty.
I had checked the weather before we left and currently their highs are 40-42 degrees Celsius during the day and 30-32 at night.

We knew it was hot when got off the plane, but we didn’t feel the full extent until we left the airport!
We had a car waiting for us and just the walk to the car was like walking into fire! It was so engulfing!

I don’t think we’re going to be leaving this hotel. Everyone here has been so nice to us and so accomodating. Our room is lovely and big and we have some nice views.

 

 

Unfortunately you can’t really see it as there’s some sort of fog over the city and the windows are dirty. I don’t know if it’s smog, fog, a sandstorm coming or something else! In any case, it obscures the view which is a shame.

We didn’t leave the hotel as hubby wasn’t well. We didn’t even get food. We wasted  the whole evening so I don’t have anything interesting to say and hope we do something safe and fun tomorrow.

Perth Day Three

Sorry that this entry is coming after the fact but between the Wine Tour that we did today and travelling back home, this is the first chance I’ve had to write and upload.

1Today, Friday the 5th of January as I write, is my birthday and not only is it my birthday, but it’s a milestone birthday too so I knew hubby was not going to say anything when I wanted to get up extra early to exercise.

The gym at this hotel is quite good and if you go early enough, there’s no one in there so I get the whole place to myself!
Perfect way to start a birthday!

We took our picture before heading out! (left)

The Wine Tour we were booked on started from Elizabeth Quay so we walked down there from our hotel and had a coffee at the Riverside Cafe. No champagne this morning though as I was anticipating a heavy alcohol day!

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We met our friends and boarded our boat.

It was such a relaxing cruise down the river!

We had coffee and muffins to start off with but it wasn’t long before the wine tasting started.

Here is a picture of the wine’s we sampled on the right and a few from the cruise below.
I forgot to mention the tasting plate of local cheeses that were also provided. Each tray was for two people so it was quite a generous portion!


Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the first stop. I think it was next to Sandalwood Winery? Beautiful spot anyhow and they had the BEST cider here!! It tasted more like a sparkling white than a cider! Soooo delicious but unfortunately they don’t bottle it yet so we couldn’t buy any.

The food we had was also exceptional. Unfortunately I was too overwhelmed with the place to take pictures of the food but here are a few of our surroundings. By the way, the whole time we were there having lunch there was a line of people waiting to get in!

From here we travelled by coach to another winery.  This time I took a pic of the sign outside so I know it’s Windy Creek Winery. This was another gorgeous spot!!

I tried pretty much every wine they were offering and surprisingly for me, really loved the whites. I don’t normally drink a lot, if any, of white wine.

We were a nice group and by this time, were starting to talk to each other and were getting pretty happy! I took a few pics inside and out. So gorgeous here!

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Hubby is not a wine drinker so I ended up having a few tastings on his behalf – not that you can tell by this selfie on the left…

You can imagine where this is going to lead can’t you?

Back on the coach now to our next spot.

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As per the information from our driver, this tree had been struck by lightening, but continued to grow anyhow!

It was just outside our next stop and quite interesting to look at.

So now we’re at Twin Hill Wines and I’m feeling decidedly happy. Again, I liked the whites more than the reds (surprisingly) but not as much as our last stop. This is a family run winery though and the history behind it was quite interesting. They also provided a very tasty tasting plate for us!
Here are a few pics from our time here. By the way, the ladies behind the counter are mother and daughter.


Next stop was a brewery – Mash Brewing. They also provided us some nibbles and we were able to pick one beer from their list complimentary.

I’m not a beer drinker but it seemed like an interesting place.


I’m not sure you can read it but the pic on the right shows the beer choices we had.

We had one more stop to come and I was quite excited for this one! We were going to Margaret River Chocolate Company and were going to be sampling a few chocolate liqueurs also!

Here are a few pics. Luckily, hubby took them as I was not in any state to be taking photos at this point and was happy to be wandering around about the chocolate. We bought a few things to share later.


Not sure if you can see the interesting clocks bottom right. How cute are they!!!

The chocolate liqueurs ended up being a bit disappointing. We sampled four different kinds and they were all wine based. Although I like chocolate, I wasn’t tempted to buy any of them.

Our tour came to an end and we were dropped off back into Perth CBD.

IMG_5216We had dinner at East Village.

It looked like a really interesting place and the food wasn’t bad, but there was just something missing that I couldn’t put my finger on.


We ordered some wings to share, hubby got a burger and I had a Lamb Greek salad which was ok. The bread was probably the best thing about this. Still warm from the oven!

I had been jokingly saying I still wanted birthday cake and I wanted to see the city lights from Kings Park at night. Hubby, mostly always ready to please, began hatching a plan.

We went to the store and bought some cake. He also got some matches, candles and some sparklers. I still had no idea what he was going to do with these as we couldn’t light the sparklers in our hotel room could we?

I won’t bore you with the whole story but we never made it to Kings Park with one thing going wrong after another and eventually we just walked back to our hotel. Hubby still made it special for me by singing me happy birthday and lighting the candles on my cake!


Sadly our time in Perth was now pretty much over.

I do want to share one last treat before I finish this entry.

Hubby organised for us to fly back on the A330 in Business Class. Oh my!! Look at all this room!!! We could even lie our seats flat like a bed.
The bad thing about this is that you never want to travel any other way again!!!
Thank you Qantas and thanks for reading about our few days in Perth.

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Turning Japanese I really think so…

Today on the Dining Diaries….. Something very much different!

Hubby and I were lucky enough to spend a bit of time in Japan lately and not being familiar with Japanese food, I didn’t feel comfortable reviewing the way I normally would. What I’ve done instead, is give you little updates along the way so you can experience a little as we are.

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We were in Narita and if you’re familiar with the walk to the Narita temple, you’ll know that it’s filled with many touristy shops that have different and amazing items.
There’s also many restaurants but hubby felt they were charging “tourist” prices so we ended up getting our first meal in Japan at a place off the train station.

We walked in like a couple of novices. The menu was clearly illustrated so we knew what we were getting but we didn’t know about the ordering process.
And I thought McDonalds did it first….
What they had, and perhaps many places have, is a self service board.
Like a vending machine, you tap the item you want, put your money in (cash only) and the machine spits out a ticket.
You then take this ticket to the counter and the lovely ladies behind the counter whip up something magical for you.

Luckily the Japanese are very polite and a patient lady who spoke three words of English took us almost by the hand and guided us step by step through this process.

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Now everyone has said we MUST have Ramen noodles… unfortunately these were not Ramen but they were nice! I wish I could remember exactly what it was.

I was more excited that I was able to use the chopsticks at a four year old level. I’ve been told there are some “kid” ones that you can get that teach you how to use them. I’ll have to look out for those.

The rice on the left was nice, however I could have done without the seaweed (I’m assuming that’s what it was) on top and the huge dollop of horse radish that wanted to make me spew with every bite.

I have to say that everyone we have spoken to here could not be more polite.

Even though the food scares me ( I don’t know what half of it is) and communication is difficult ( shop signs, street signs, trying to talk to a vendor – it’s all difficult) I think I’m starting to fall in love with this place!