So after spending a few days in Doha I would sum it up that it was great for family time but wasn't my favorite tourist destination. Crazy, I know! As Brad and I would sit and complain about some of our inconvenience in Doha we also had to roll our eyes at ourselves. There are many people that would LOVE to visit a foreign country and don't get the chance and here we are in our 2nd new country this year and we have a beef with it. See, that is part of the challenge as an expat. The more you see, the more you know, the more you start to have favorites and the more some of the countries start to look the same. So, this is our 4th Middle Eastern country to visit and it reminded us a lot of Saudi (and a huge part of the problem with Doha is that when we travel, a lot of the reason is to leave behind the differences and explore the freedoms that we often miss living where we do.)
We found that Doha is filled with a lot of rules, a lot of barriers, and a LOT of traffic! Many situations became very frustrating and we just longed for a cultural "ease". For example, it was St. Patrick's Day and we heard there was an Irish bar across town. Perfect! We call ahead to make sure the restaurant is in fact serving and we could take our family. We dress is green, get a cab, and head over to the restaurant only to get there to find out "NO KIDS!" Really?!?! How did they miss that important fact when we called mentioning our family and the security at the front of the hotel let us go down to the restaurant without mention of NO KIDS allowed. No worries. we thought. We'll find another restaurant in the hotel. We can across a Mexican restaurant. Perfect! Or so we thought! So the hostess is saying, "I'm sorry, I know it is 5pm but we do not serve dinner until 8." Really?!?! Who doesn't eat dinner until 8?!?! Oh yes, a lot of the people in the Middle East! No worries. We will just eat off the "light" menu. Can we at least get a drink??? A couple of snacks and some drinks later and we ended up paying the highest price of any of our meals in Doha, this was even more expensive than our fine dining lunch! We got our cab and headed back to our hotel. It took ONE HOUR to go less than 5 miles! And if you remember from previous post, it took us SO long to get to our hotel on day 1 so we were already sick of the car and to have to spend ANOTHER DREADED hour in the car was not a great way to end our first evening in Qatar! My opinion- Doha is NOT set up for traffic! I have NO idea how they are planning on handling the influx of people expected for the world cup!
Another day we wanted to go for lunch and have a beer. Turns out most places don't serve alcohol until 5. (This will be another problem during the World Cup!) We found a place, Ric's, that is familiar to us because there is also one in Bahrian. It was about 1.5km from our hotel so we could walk there. Nice afternoon for a walk. Perfect! We call to double check and triple check that they ARE open and that they ARE serving beer. We are reassured on the phone several times. Walk there to find out, NOPE, no beer! Not at lunch and not a dinner. Crazy. These situations were becoming laughable! We walked back to our hotel checking several places along the way to find NO was the answer at all. So we ended up back at our hotel!
This post might sound like it is just about beer and our need for it. Well that isn't totally the case. Vacation is a nice place for some of us expats that enjoy an adult beverage to get our fill and when there are SO many rules and regulations it is SO frustrating. But alcohol isn't the only subject that was riddled with rules and confusing conversations. At times, the staff that work at hotels and restaurants say, "yes" without really hearing or understanding your question and after much poking around we find the answer is "no" or "yes with a twist". So our take away from Doha was to ask more specific questions that need to be answered with more than a yes or no! Also, if you can, take other modes of transportation beside a car!
Doha did have some amazing moments for us. For example, day 1 in the pool Ethan claims he can swim. I wasn't so sure of this. He hadn't swam along yet. And then, he showed us all that he is a big boy now and can swim on his own!!! If it wasn't for vacation, we would have missed this moment! We also had a great time walking the souq, the amazing lunch, and all of the family time swimming. Really, THAT is what vacation is about!
This time right now is SO precious with our kids and I'm so thankful for all of the family time we have together!