– V –
I just landed in my 29th country, Doha in Qatar, and I couldn’t be more excited. It starts our 9-month trip off with a country in the middle east (a region I’ve never visited before!) before we head to Bangkok and Asia tomorrow.
The flight, umm, not so great, I must have had about 3 hours sleep if I was lucky, and Matt got nothing. I’m used to Qatar Airways being really good, but this wasn’t the same. Anyway, it was worth it to have the free Doha city tour that you can have when you have a long stop over with them.
We landed after coming in over the Pearl and through the sunrise which was beautiful. You can really see the dust from the sand of the desert! We’d also met an Australian woman at the gate who we were speaking to before we boarded completely separately, and once we got on the plane we were sat next to her! She was visiting her sister who lives in Doha and she pointed out all the landmarks to us which was so fascinating seeing it all from the plane first.
After going through security and registering for the tour… no free hotel unfortunately! We set off and got the first stamp of the trip on our passport! My passport is filling up quickly actually and I’m going to need a new one, Brexit or not…
If you want to do this as well by the way then make sure that you fly with Qatar Airways, have a stop over that is longer than 5 hours, (maybe less than the 14 hours we opted for!) and head to the arrivals lounge. On the way to zone B, opposite WHSmith’s there’s a desk and you just sign up and turn up and they take you on the tour with free water, an English tour guide and a snack bag. There’s about 5 tours a day and make sure you get there early enough as they only allow 33 people on the tour at one time and you can’t pre-book… we thought we wouldn’t make the early tour however and there was still plenty of room!
On leaving the airport I was surprised by how cool it was. I’ve flown through the middle east before with stop overs and had to get out on the tarmac and really been hit by the heat. However, its only about 15 degrees here today (it is their winter), of course this is amazing compared to the weather we left behind 6 hours ago though…
The view from a bus is always great to see a country and Doha is so flat. They’ve actually had to make man made hills to break the landscape up – they are about the height of a house and are the highest ground point there! Of course, not counting the many many skyscrapers that make up the rest of the city.
Doha is also so modern, which we got a feel of when driving out of the airport on the tour bus. There’s building work going on everywhere and the skyline has skyscraper after skyscraper, its beautiful but there really is nothing older then 1982 in the CBD, which is when the first international hotel was built.
Our first stop really showed off the skyline and although you only have about 5 minutes at the stops, it is enough, and we managed to get this photo. After being on an overnight flight, and coming from a UK winter, I was really not used to the sun!
The stops after that were also only 5 minutes long but the journeys between them were amazing too. Even after no sleep, I couldn’t stop watching (and that’s saying something for someone who falls asleep on every journey anywhere). Watch out for our video on our Youtube channel about Doha to see the CDB skyscrapers! (This will be our first attempt at editing a video together ever so please don’t judge the quality!
The other stops involved the Blue Mosque and Terracotta Towers and a quick stop by the harbour to see the yacht’s, before we headed over to Souq Waqif. Now we’re travelling on a budget, hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, had little or no sleep in 36 hours and had no money on us so we got off, had a quick look around and then took full advantage of the comfortable seats on the coach to get a good 40 minutes nap!
When we woke up we were back at the airport and after getting our second stamp of the trip we settled down next to some plugs, charged up our phones and got some needed sleep.
Doha was very short and very sweet, it was completely and utterly dead (it was their Holy day the day that we visited which may be why, as a working week in Qatar is 6 days’ long and made up of 12-hour days, they do need a rest!), and this did give it a feel of an oncoming zombie apocalypse, (think Atlanta in the Walking Dead but much cleaner and modern) or that Doha was just waiting… I don’t know what it’ll be like in the coming years after it hosts the World Cup but I’m very glad that we got the chance to see it before it’s fully built. Head over to Matt’s post to see his take on this stunning city or if you need some more persuading, click here for our photo gallery on Doha.