Visiting Qatar was unexpected, I was initially stopping as transit in Russia but I didn’t knew their policy changed; for transits American citizens passengers need a visa to enter the country -or- airport. If I knew this, I wouldn’t book it in the first place. We didn’t need visa before, but due to politics issues from the President of the USA with Russia, as I was informed from Aeroflot staff, our agreement has changed. Long story short, I rebooked my flight to Hanoi stopping in……Qatar!
Now, I used to love working this flight back when I was cabin crew because from Dubai to Doha is like 48 mins, easy pease flight. But, it was not a layover and never got the chance to visit, until now. This came up because a friend invited me to travel with her and her friend, I skipped some countries in which I already been couple of times and decided to meet them in Hanoi. And yes, I was traveling alone. I left my baby taking care from my mom and husband and went flying solo on a mommy time off week.
On that flight (New York to Doha), when we were doing the first descending, I noticed that the blouse I was wearing had really thin sleeves but not reviling anything though. My next flight was next day and didn’t want to sleep at the airport, I wanted to go out and take a shower… I grabbed my carry-on and searched for any other blouse or shirt. I always packed extra clothing except for this darn time I didn’t. A woman seating behind me saw me struggling and asked me if I was okay. I explained to her my matter as she replied “You’re good hun, there’s no problem what you are wearing at the airport..” I then smiled and told her my plans was not staying at the airport. Her face turned serious and ‘shocked’ as she was asking me very surprised Why would you explore Doha, and alone? I, on the other hand, was curious of how she assumed I was specifically doing a layover in Doha… She also mentioned she never travels alone, she was to scared of getting lost and that exploring an Arab country such as Qatar, is even more scary for her. She was going to stay the whole day at the airport, kill me. I couldn’t do that.
I was actually really excited to walk through the airport, I read so many things from the Hamad airport and let me tell you, I didn’t get the time to explore all their facilities, but it the airport’s architecture is really modern, beautiful hallways, full of technology, big TV screen, lounges that you can rest, sleep, take a shower, have a spa treatment, jacuzzi, they also have an indoor train to speed you faster to the gate (I did it!), big swimming pool, full range of workout equipment, fancy hotel…and I can go on all day. This is by far, the most luxurious airport in the Middle East.
Once I proceed through customs and arrivals, I booked a hotel so I can later on take a shower and sleep a little while. Doha is a small modern city that is growing very fast, my opinion, Doha looks set to become one of the premier cities in the Gulf within a few years, mark my words. I choose to take taxi as transportation, it’s cheap and faster to get to the locations. If you have international data, Uber works fine as well. Qatari people are very nice and friendly but the city is more full of foreign.
The first stop I made and I was really excited… Note: I love cultural shopping, fabrics, food, coffee, things that are useful or eatable, not just cards and magnets. This is why I can never be a backpacker traveller. Furthermore, on this trip I left my camera’s battery inside my checked luggage, I had to take pictures with my iPhone, I was really mad because I was looking forward to take nice landscape photographs. Nevertheless, I still managed to take some nice photos, hope you still enjoy my gallery.
This is worth going. Is an Arabic market quarter (souq). You can wander around the maze-like corridors and beautiful middle eastern architecture. Is well-organized, they sale great variety of textiles, souvenirs, have coffee or lunch, smoke Sheesha etc. I bought scarves, a thobe for my little one and magnets (of course) 😀 .
_____The Pearl Qatar
Now, this is a high luxury neighbourhood which is located on a man-made island. Great for walking around the Porto Arabia marina, cruise boat sightseeing, lots of designer shops, restaurants and there’s a ‘Venice-like community’ area called Qanat Quartier, which has an extensive canal system, beachfront townhouses and a replica of Venice Rialto Bridge.
An amazing view of city’s skyscrapers on a longside promenade that curves around Doha Bay. If it’s not summer yet (meaning that the weather is not too hot) you can take a walk and enjoy the view. It is also near their famous museum…
_____Museum of Islamic Art
This Museum represents the full scope of islamic Art from three continents over 1,400 years. The museum is built with a beautiful classic Islamic architecture elements. It has a beautiful terrace with an amazing view of city’s skyscrapers, I was so mad because I left my camera’s battery inside my checked bag! So I couldn’t take beautiful pictures of the lovely view, only with iPhone.
Anyhow, They also have a nice restaurant you can have lunch, coffee or just relax. The best part is that, is free! So don’t miss this museum! Another place I was thrilled to visit was the…
_____Imam Abdul Wahaab Shaikh Mosque
More known as the Grand Mosque. Is one the largest mosque in Qatar. If you are wearing jeans or short sleeves, they can provide albaya for you to wear it and then return it. The interior is very decorative with beautiful carpets and chandeliers. If you’re getting here by taxi, make sure to inform the taxi driver to wait for you. It’s very difficult to take a taxi in that area, so my driver waited for me while I was visiting the mosque which by the way, it’s free!
There’s much more to visit, but after 2 flights and having jet-lag, I was so tired and falling as sleep. I decided to go back to the hotel, took a shower because the weather was insanely hot, that’s one thing I don’t miss from the desert. I order in room service, had dinner and slept for some hours. I woke up and went to the airport for my next flight. I definitely recommend Doha, is very easy to explore alone or in groups. You can actually enjoy and visit many points of interests on a layover. Although the airport is amazing, don’t just wait at the airport if you can go out, use that time to make the best out of that layover; explore, visit and discover!