I have just read back on my previous posts and almost all of them start with an apology for the lack of writing, this time you do deserve one. Its been some time, actually quite some time, (more than 2 months – eek!!! ) since I last posted on my blog !!! I have many excuses but I won’t bore you with the details.We have finally arrived in Maputo after being delayed in South Africa for 6 weeks, but before I tell you all about that part of the journey I thought I needed to say a farewell to Doha.
Although we were looking forward to our next part of the journey, I was quite sad to say goodbye to all the friends that I made in the short time that we were in Doha, and just want to thank each one of them for making me feel so welcome and being there for me which was quite a stressful time in my life. Even though we only knew each other for a short while, they were all very special to me and I really hope that our paths will cross again one day. Thank you also for all the lovely farewell gifts, I was truly spoilt.
Highlights of my time in Doha was seeing Roger Federer play tennis and winning the tournament, seeing fascinating buildings, early morning power walking on the Corniche with my friend Janis, spending time at Souk Waqif, seeing the camel racing, spending time at the Pearl (would have been great to live there), visiting Villaggio shopping centre (over the top) and the 20 minute firework display on National day, but most of all was meeting such amazing people.
Sorry that I haven’t written for a while, this time I have no excuse other than pure laziness and also nothing remotely exciting has happened since I last wrote. I have been spending my days with an early exercise routine which is either an 8km walk on the Corniche with my friend J or on alternative days a workout in the gym (Ezdan surprisingly has a good gym !!!). I have been lucky enough to meet a great bunch of ladies who hail from all over the world, Australia, UK, Holland, Canada and Austin Texas who have been great and welcomed me into there, we meet up for coffee or lunch once a week , have met a few times for a walk around the Souk and even spent New Years Eve with some of them. It feels like I have known them for much longer than a few weeks.
As promised I thought I would tell you about what we have done since arriving here.
One of my favourite places in Doha is Souk Waqif, for those of you who don’t know a souk is a market. Souk Waqif has many little alleys with shops selling pashminas to catering pots, spices and dried fruits, clothes toys and pets, you can get pretty much anything here. It reminds me a bit of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul on a smaller scale without being bugged to buy something and it has a bit of a Moroccan feel to it.(not that I have been to Morocco but its what I imagine it must be!!)
It has great coffee shops where you can sit for hours sipping coffee and smoking hashish pipes whilst people watching. It also has many different restaurants my favourite is Moroccan called Tajine. We went for dinner when we first arrived with business colleagues of S’s who were in Doha for a few days. I was the only one who didn’t order baby camel stew… they all said it was delicious, I was to nervous to try it..
One night we went out for dinner with friends J and C, we had a lovely dinner, J and I had a hubbly bubbly after dinner, I chose mint flavour which was great.. I woke up the next morning feeling a bit worse for wear as though I had a hangover – which was impossible as all we drank that night was water and a cup of coffee… looking at my eyes in the photo’s maybe they put something stronger than mint in it !!!
I will post again in a few days.. hope you enjoyed reading !
P.S thought I would update you on S shirt’s we had made in Thailand – after about 6 washes there is no sign of them falling apart which goes to show don’t believe everything you read in a guide book !
When I started writing this blogg I wrote that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, what I never thought of at the time was that sometimes the road one travels hits unexpected potholes and that what initially looked like a simple journey can change in an instant …
This is what happened to us, we have hit an unexpected pothole which has resulted in us having to make some hard decisions, things haven’t worked out here as planned and we will be leaving Qatar in January. We aren’t to sure were our next adventure is going to be, we have some possible options that we are considering elsewhere but nothing has been decided yet and who knows if they are going to be the right ones. When one hits a pothole, you usually stop, assess the damage and decide what course of action to take, do you carry on with the journey or do you turn around and go back in the direction you came from ?…I suppose you never know when you set out on a new journey what it is going to be like, I could carry on and be philosophical but those of you who know me well, will also know that I have had a few knocks in life and generally look on the bright side of life and try and never let things get me down (well not for very long, although I must admit I have been wallowing in my own self pity for the last few weeks) but from today no longer !!!
So what have we been up too since I last wrote quite a few weeks ago…
We spent an enjoyable afternoon with friends at the camel races. Experienced all the excitement of Qatar winning the 2022 Football World Cup, have spent some enjoyable times at the Souk Waqif (market) were I tried smoking a hubbly bubbly and also watched the National Day parade with a 19 minute fireworks display…
I will start with the camel racing. We had no idea what to expect when we were invited by friends to join them one Saturday afternoon at the races. It is not at all like horse racing, I was expecting little people dressed as jockeys, which I must admit I had my reservations about the cruelty aspect (I am not a huge fan of horse racing for the same reason).There were no ‘little jockeys’ in sight only little robots dressed like jockeys on top of the camels holding tiny whips controlled by radio control.
The owners of the camels drive in white 4×4 vehicles (they are always white not sure why) on a road next to the race track controlling the robots. Spectators (also white 4×4’s !!!) drive next to the race on the other side of the track.
There is a bus that drives around the track for spectators, one thing I haven’t written about yet is how crazy the drivers are here, apparently it is the same in Dubai and the whole of the Middle East, and you feel as if you are putting your life at risk every time you venture out in a car…which is probablly why there is a bus for people like me.
We jumped into a white bus which was waiting to set off, only to discover a few minutes later when we were 400m down the road that this wasn’t the official bus but somebody’s private vehicle – they didn’t seem to mind even though we were 5 adults and 2 children!! It was great fun going around the track this way as they had the commentary in Arabic on the car radio which added to the excitement. A few races later we ventured out on our own with my friend D diving alongside the spectators, he has lived here for 3 years so drives the same way they do..which made it an exciting experience , how no-one had an accident I still can’t believe. It was a great experience and a fun day out.
Today I experienced my first thunder storm in Doha. There are few things I love more than thunderstorms, I love the sounds, the smell and they way everything feels fresh once it has passed. I stood standing at the window with my camera ready waiting to capture this (living on the 22nd floor, I was scared that if I went downstairs by the time I got there I might miss it and also wouldnt have been able to capture the moment). I didnt need to worry as it took all day for the storm to finally break. I went outside and stood at the entrance to our building so that I could experience it and take some photographs. The wind was howling and sand was blowing into my eyes. The heavens opened as the battery in my camera died….
As I write this it is pouring with rain – I can hardly see out of the window as the rain has covered it. I am hoping that the camera will charge quickly so I can get some shots of the lightening over the sea. The storm has not dissapointed me.
Today is Monday, I know this because the carpet in the elevator told me so… it gets changed every day which is great for me because at the moment every day feels the same.
We are staying on the 22nd floor of a hotel called Ezdan (someone called it the Ezdan Tower of hell on Trip Advisor and generally the ratings are rubbish), the views are great and apart from the awful smell which occassionally drifts through the pipes in the bathroom and poor customer service, it isn’t a bad place to stay. It has a great swimming pool which I can see from the window, a gym which has a few treadmills, cross trainers and weights, sauna and steam room and 2 studios one for men and one for women. They have an aerobics class once a week and a Salsa class on a Monday night, I have wondered how they teach Salsa with men only and women only studios ?
The hotel has a coffee shop, 2 restaurants,a hairdresser for women, another for men and a super market. It is located close to the main business area and in walking distance from the Corniche which is a boulevard stretching about 7km along the waterway. It is used for walking, cycling and running and has benches etc to hang out on. There are restaurants and museums along the way and is generally a good place to hang out.
We signed for our own place on Saturday this involved sampling loads of chocolate and drinking cups of sweet tea, an interesting experience as our landlord owns a chocolate factory and a few chocolate shops in Doha called Larissa. We move on 1st December, it looks like we might be camping though as our furniture hasnt left the UK yet. I will post details as soon as we have the keys and I can take some photos, you will love it.
It took about 4 months from the time Stefan and I decided that we were moving to Doha for me to finally board the plane.
The last few weeks in the UK passed in a blur, the flat was being painted and spruced up to be rented, I was trying to sell the car (which is still not sold!!!), sorting out bank accounts, tax, etc….the list continues. In between this I was trying to catch up with as many of my friends as I could, my head was spinning by the time I got on the plane (this could have had a bit to do with all the champagne consumed the night before with great friends Em, Aid, Steve, Wendy and Boo) and I was in a bit of a daze.
Em and Aidrian were amazing to drive me to Heathrow at 5am to catch my flight, and patiently waited while I was charged for excess luggage which cut in to our last minutes together.(Thank you so much E and A -you are stars!!) Although I was really excited to be seeing Stefan in a few hours, I was very sad to say goodbye to the UK and all the amazing friends I have had to leave behind, and I am not ashamed to say I shed a few tears as I boarded the plane.
They say that a journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step….
Our journey started in March 2002 (2 weeks after we got married!), when Stefan was offered a job in Winchester and we made the big move from Cape Town, South Africa. Neither of us had ever been to Winchester before, Stefan hadn’t even been to the UK – I had visited twice for short holidays!!! We arrived on a cold winter’s morning, it was a freezing, a bitterly cold day and every thing looked dull and grey. We both had thoughts of what on earth have we done, we have left a great life and our family and friends behind for this???!!!…but we were too scared to voice our thoughts to each other.
Now 8 ½ years later we find ourselves in a similar position again. Stefan has been offered a job in Doha, Qatar and once again we are leaving a great life and all our amazing friends and family behind. This time Stefan has been to Doha, I have never been to the Middle East before (does a one night stop over in Dubai count?)
Stefan has already started his job in Doha and I will be joining him in a few weeks time. I have stayed to sort out renting out our flat, the shipping of our belongings, selling the car and everything else required for a move to another country. To say that this has been a stressful experience is an understatement. Thoughts of warmer weather and seeing Stefan after 6 weeks is keeping me sane.
I have no idea what to expect when I arrive, what it is going to be like as a blonde blue-eyed women in an Arab country , are the shopping malls going to be as amazing as I have been led to believe ? , how can a person run in 40 degrees weather? , how easy is it to get a licence to buy wine? How am I going to cope with having to get my husbands permission to do anything? … these are just a few of the thoughts going around in my head…..
The next step of our journey is about to begin …….
My experiences and adventures whilst living the life of an expat..