When I arrived in Doha, Qatar, it was the first time being back in the gulf region since I lived in Bahrain a few years ago. I didn't know what to expect from Doha but had a fair idea that it would resemble Dubai or Abu Dhabi, which it did. The morning got off to a rough and frustrating start and I was exhausted from having slept on the floor all night in Delhi airport. I had booked this specific flight with a 15hr layover so that I could spend the day sightseeing and taking in yet another cities culture. I had read on Qatar airways website that they provide a city tour for transitting passengers which I wanted to avail of. Unlucky for me, things often don't go as smoothly as if hoped and this was yet another time.
I was ushered through arrivals and to immigration where I told them I would spend the day in Doha, before my flight and so I was ordered to pay $24 for my visa. I paid the visa and when I got to the other side, Qatar airways said that I should have booked the tour before immigration and that I couldn't avail of this now because I had gone and paid for my visa seperately. I complained rightly, that there were no signs to say this, no one told me to do this and their website had no info regarding this either but still they could do nothing. As if things couldn't get worse, in the midst of the chaos I had left my handmade woollen sweater from Nepal somewhere in the airport and I was frustrated. I headed to lost and found etc but after retracing my steps I finally found it tucked up in a seat. I needed to suck it up and get out of this airport.
I decided to take a taxi to Souq Waqif where I was due to meet my friend Grainne that evening, and I would try and do a tour from there. After walking around and around though the small alleys of the big bazaar, I realised that I had no idea where to look for the city sightseeing tour operators. I eventually saw a travel agent down the street and so I rushed down to see if they could help. The guy did some research and wanted me do do a tour later on in the day for €190. I laughed and said no way, that it was €43 for the hop on/off tour and asked if he knew where that left from. He pointed me back to the souq where I decided or just grab a coffee and take a few breaths. Luckily the guy serving me was in the know, and showed me exactly where the bus tickets where sold. I was so thankful. I had images of my only day here being ruined and not getting to see anything, but now I had hope.
After 10 mins I had my ticket in hand and was on the bus and all. With the wind blowing in my hair and the sun shining, I sat back, relaxed and listened to the cities history through my earphones. We passed so many cool places such as the many museums, mosques and malls Qatar had to offer. The history lesson provided me with some really interesting facts about the culture and surroundings here too. I decided to hop off at city centre mall, the biggest mall in the Middle East, for a look round. I spent an hour there amazed by all the luxurious shops and familiar shops from home and even got talking to a Nepalese guy from Pokhara at the candy shop.
The bus pulled up just as I left the mall and once I was on it, I decided to stay on it for a few more hours making the loop twice around the city.! It was so nice to relax and take in the information properly while admiring the sun setting along the city skyline. When the tour arrived back to the souq I had a coffee and waited for Grainne but then realised that she couldn't make it as she was really ill and was at the doctors. Luckily I had picked up wifi. I spent an hour or so playing around on the internet and then took a taxi back to the airport.
Doha had been a pleasant surprise and was a totL contrast to Delhi where id just come from. Everything was so exquisite and luxurious and the city was pristine and perfect to look at. I watched the people enjoy their daily lives walking to work by the promenade, jogging or working out in the park and having family picnics near the waterfront. It looked like an amazing place to live and I now knew why 80% of the people living here were foreigners, it was magical and full of opportunity.