That means “Hello friends!” in Arabic which is the official language here in Qatar. We’ve been very lucky though because most of the locals we’ve met also speak at least some English, and many of them are expats from other countries like Nepal!
Our first full day in Doha was a busy one. One of my biggest takeaways — it’s VERY hot in Qatar! You’d think coming from Florida would prepare one for temperatures in the high 90s (feels like 100s), but it seems even warmer here than a Florida summer afternoon. Most of the cafes, stores, and markets are only open for a few hours in the early morning and then again beginning in the late afternoons when the sun starts to set. Around now, noontime, the streets in the Souq Waqif where we are staying are empty of people, except for the occasional tourist hurrying from shady patch to shady patch.
Despite the heat and beating sunshine, we were able to experience quite a few of the highlights of the city. We walked along the Cornish Promenade (waterfront area) and saw many of the dhows (traditional boats) that you can rent to view the city from the water… more on that tomorrow.
We spent a few hours in the beautiful Museum of Islamic Art including a truly fantastic meal experience at the museum restaurant IDAM. Everything from the design of the building to the layout of the exhibits to the decor in the restaurant to the beautifully plated (and delicious) food has been so intentionally chosen in this museum — it’s definitely worth a visit. We had such a lovely time, and I really enjoyed that we even got to take a tour of the kitchen and meet the chef!
We also spent some time in the evening exploring the souqs (markets) around our hotel. Souq Waqif is famous and absolutely bustling after dark.
You can buy everything from scarves and clothes to spices and candies to gold jewelry to animals, including falcons. In fact falconry is so popular here that there is even a Falcon Hospital where the line seems never-ending! Danita and I thought about trying to smuggle one home in our suitcase, but then discovered that these beautiful birds come with an impressive price tag, generally in the thousands, so no falcons for us this time.
And of course, as you may have already seen, we made some camel friends too!
Almost 20,000 steps and lots of new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes = a very good day. Plus how lucky to have a few days to experience such a vibrant culture and city. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventures, and then it’s off to Kathmandu!
Talk to you soon!