Chandler said our first day of vacation was a success – we visited everywhere we wanted to. I had more mixed feelings…
Doha is hot. 109 degrees Fahrenheit hot. And I don’t do well with heat (understatement). We tried to take the city bus (20 QAR for a day of unlimited rides), but during our whole time waiting, only one passed. And it didn’t stop. Which wouldn’t have been such an issue, but we were trying to get to Souq Waqif, which closes at noon (and it was already 10:30) and doesn’t reopen until four. So we gave up and headed for the taxis (costing considerably more at 41.50 QAR one-way). And then, just a few minutes later, we got rear-ended.
The heat was miserable as we wandered around Souq Waqif and Gold Souq, but all our window shopping made it bearable. I’ve promised myself I’m only going to buy something if I can’t fathom life without it, we’ll see how long that lasts – but today, it was a success. A lot of the fabrics were beautiful, but I don’t want to lug those around for the rest of this trip! And we found tons of antique compasses, but again, it’s too soon for souvenirs.
I came close to passing out as we futilely searched for a restaurant we had looked up…turns out it was being converted into something else. We finally settled upon a Lebanese place that had giant servings of hummus and stuffed grape leaves. And it was way cheaper than our first choice – we had set aside 200 QAR for lunch and two courses, a large water, and juice came to only 84. More than making up for the taxi.
After that, I was feeling refreshed and we walked over to the Museum of Islamic Art. It really is a stunning building and the works of art inside are too. It was by far my highlight of the day – and it’s free! Though everything in the gift shop is crazy expensive.
Then we got ripped off by the taxi driver on the way back to the airport. He definitely charged us the night rate (1.8 vs 1.2 per km) and then denied it when we called him out on it. And he refused to give us change, claiming he had none. Which meant he kept our 50 QAR, further ripping us off. So if you ever find yourself in Doha, beware. Unfortunately, we never caught his name.
But we stepped back into the glorious air-conditioning of Hamad International Airport (a mere 5 hours after we left it) and most of the difficulties of the day were forgotten…we had completed our first city and had the next few hours ahead of us to just relax, eat, and, after 34 hours of no sleep, try desperately to stay awake.
As a heads up for anyone truly interested in a day stopover in Doha – the airport offers free tours of the city that last just under 3 hours. We looked into this but wanted to do our own thing – only finding out later that by joining this tour you avoid the 100 QAR visa fee. But we have no regrets. The bumbles of the day just made it all the more memorable.