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The Middle East: Quiet Qatar

Written on: Thursday February 26th, 2009

Continuing my tour of the Gulf region, I arrived in Qatar with little knowledge of the country or culture.  Meeting me at the airport was Erika, another CS connection who kindly welcomed me into her spacious apartment near the city center.  On the trip home we toured town a bit before stopping at the grocery for some much needed snacks.  A quiet night ensued as we got to know each other a bit.

The next morning was a scorcher, but I was set on exploring the town.  Of course, geocaches were entered as I set off through the dusty alleys and construction-filled streets toward Souk Waqif.  This souk was retrofitted to reflect the original look it sported centuries ago; however, the shops and restaurants now catered more to toursits than to common townspeople or traveling herdsmen.  Nonetheless, it was enjoyable looking through the shops and spying the antiques for sale.  Nearby was the first cache I attempted in the country.  Obtaining it resulted in covering my entire body with a layer of dust, a perpetual hazard in this desert climate.  My stroll across town continued until I eventually came to the Museum of Islamic Art.  The structure itself was beautiful, especially the interior.  Inside, plenty of interesting items were housed to give one a feel for the history of the region.  Continuing along the corniche, I walked and walked, noting with enjoyment the dedication that this city provided to urban asthetics.  Flowers and greenery were everywhere...so much unlike Dubai and Bahrain.  The day progressed, the heat increased and the kilometers added up as I explored and cached my way for a total of 15km before returning to Erika's completely famished.  I managed to locate a restaurant and scarf down some tasty treats before spending another quiet night at home, which was the perfect medicine for a exhausted body.

The following day was fairly non-eventful.  I felt a bit under the weather and was therefore content to hit up an internet cafe for the better part of the day.  But Erika made sure that fun was had in the evening, as she took me out to a fantastic Iraqi restaurant!  The food was outstanding, and the ambiance magnificent.  From there we went to a club, had a drink and talked of Qatar.  Erika had been here just a few months, and was gradually adjusting to the differences in lifestyle compared to that of her former Salem, MA home.  After empying our glasses we headed for home, contented to watch a movie before hitting the sack.

On my fourth and final evening in Doha we decided to go to the cinema.  As Erika was a huge horror movie fan, we checked out the latest thriller.  I had to admit that listening to her startled screams was just about as enjoyable as the movie itself. :) 

The next morning she was kind enough to drop me off at the airport.  As I strolled through the security gates I couldn't help thinking, once again, how wonderful this CS network really was, for without it (and Erika's local knowledge), I would have been completely lost in Doha.