Doha : The furthest outpost of a childhood.

Doha Travel Blog

 › entry 65 of 268 › view all entries

"Why Qatar?!?"  people have asked me on a whole number of occasions.  "Why Qatar there is nothing to do here?!" has warned my good friend Kat in numerous e-mail communications.  Of all the interesting and beautiful places in the world to include in one's itinerary!  Well?  And why not really?  Principally it's because I have good friends here and whilst people don't under estimate the importance of familiar faces and company when far from home, I think unless they actually are that individual - the traveller - nearly 3 months away from familiar home comforts and social situations, then it's hard to fully comprehend that a destination can be exclusively about other people and friendship and the rest don't really matter so much at all.

M'mate Kat at the ummm?... thingamy Fort north-west Qatar.
  I've seen beauty and sights enough for now already.  I have been very fortunate.  Time for a week off.  Time to digest.  To rest.  To plan what's best next. 

Besides I have been here before.  Many a long year ago. My dad working as a medical sales export rep, his job would often take him to exhibitions in far flung, exotic corners of the globe and every now and then my mum, my sister and I would be able to tailcoat along for a holiday mixture of business and pleasure.  This included a few trips to the Middle East in the early '90s.  Dubai principally, but I remember we did once pop across to Doha for a couple of nights.

Stevie.
  So of all the several points of family history and pilgrimage that certainly littered the earlier chapters of this blog this is it.  The furthest; the final outpost of nostalgia on the Weselby childhood map of the globe.  Well, my globe anyway.  One step further east from the Doha corniche and I am officially further east from home than I have ever been before!

My friends Katherine and Steve have been out here about 15 months as ex-pat teachers at the Qatar International School.  I have been here nearly a week and have been superbly looked after, fed and watered the entire time I've been here using and abusing the comforts of their flat and various technologies.  I've done little more than sit on my arse forging madcap itineraries for the next 7 months and researching my upcoming time in Nepal, as well as catching up with my blog and all of the precious TB gang :)

As Kat had warned me anyway, there seriously is not a whole heck of a lot to do or to go see in Qatar unless shopping is your particular passion for which there is plenty of provision.

Fishing on the corniche.
  My first full day here, Kat kindly chauffeurs me around the state by car.  The coastal village of Al-khor, the semi-industrial fishing dock of Madinal Al-Shamal on the northern point of the country and the Al Jamail fort to the north west.  Nothing here (yet) is particularly impressive and the landmass has not been habited in any meaningful way long enough (late 19th Century) for it to have any vestige of rich, deep historical or cultural context from which to draw strength and interest.  But Kat did warn me that this was so.  On day 2 I get back to tramping around on my feet and walk to and all the way around the long and very scenic waterfront corniche.  The brand new, not to be opened until 1st December Museum of Islamic Art sits white, modern and full of cultural promise against the surrounding blues of the sea and sky.
  Over the crescent of the Doha bay the line of skyscrapers, fully constructed or not quite yet, and the 5 star hotel complexes make for quite and impressive skyline.  A skyline that did not exist at all last time I was here.  The pace of change has been rapid this last decade I am told as with so many of the oil and gas rich Gulf states.

Sat amidst this distant vertically beguiling composition of modern architecture, metal, concrete and glass sits the relatively squat and retro form of the sandstone coloured, concrete pyramid of the Doha Sheraton Hotel.  Doha's oldest 5 star hotel and the place where once, for a night or two only, the Weselby Clan stayed in unexpected luxury that I have not forgotten.  Today, tramping around in sweaty t-shirt and dirty day rucksack I figure the weight of nostalgia and curiosity is not to be ignored and amble through the security screening and into the main lobby of the hotel.

The 5 star Doha Sheraton Hotel where once Weselbys roamed in luxury.
  Although the pictures of youthful memory are often faint and rarely to be trusted I do recognise this place, and I am quite convinced that barely a thing has changed in appearance or mood at all.  A certain retro, eighties elegance.  For old times sake I step into the graceful glass walled elevators that course up and down the central spine of the building, the views down getting more and more claustrophobic as you ascend into the pyramid, the walls angling in towards you as you rise and rise to the skies.  Yes, nothing really has changed.  I remember being here.  My sister and I playing up and down in these lifts.  Dad explaining to me the reason for the small mat in each bedroom and it's direction "towards Mecca" for prayer.
The glass elevators within the Sheraton. My sister and I used to ride these uuuup aaaaand down
  Yes, it's been a long while since such luxury was enjoyed.  To think I slept on the dusty, dirty floor of a defunct room in a gas station just 4 nights or so ago! :D  Hey, that's travel baby.  No more five star for Stevie.

My stay has been pleasant and uneventful.  A necessary break.  Some beers and good times.  A new shonky over-priced camera purchased :D  Ready for the next stage of the journey.  Literally as I write this entry I notice that my 'little' blog has been viewed for the 5,000th time so again I must take the opportunity to thank all of you wonderful TB people (and friends and family) who are keepin' readin', keeping me company and keepin' me smiling.  "Thank you soooo much!"  And I promise future entries will be of greater brevity and beauty (photos once more!) if I can manage it.

Stevie_Wes says:
Cheers BiG, yeah new camera's doing an ok job for now, but I'm in need of an upgrade really... I'll have to see if in the next few months my budget (unlikely) or Santa Claus (even more unlikely) will permit one ;) LOL
Posted on: Dec 09, 2008
Stevie_Wes says:
Cheers Kev! Much appreciated for the mondo time required to trawl through this blog-thigamy. I'm glad it's rewarding in small ways. No offers of marriage yet I'm affraid but ya never know...I'm off to Thailand next and the people are getting more Stevie-sized the further east I travel so anything's possible LOL (Just kidding). Have fun with Christmas shopping ;)
Posted on: Dec 09, 2008
Biglush_23 says:
Kongradulations on getting urself a new kamera. Was thinking id have to just fly over there and hand you one myself (i wish haha)! Back in action...Go Go Go!!
Posted on: Nov 29, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Mmate Kat at the ummm?... thingam…
M'mate Kat at the ummm?... thinga…
Stevie.
Stevie.
Fishing on the corniche.
Fishing on the corniche.
The 5 star Doha Sheraton Hotel whe…
The 5 star Doha Sheraton Hotel wh…
The glass elevators within the She…
The glass elevators within the Sh…
Lets build a giiiiant sandcastle…
"Let's build a giiiiant sandcastl…
Kat.
Kat.
The brand spanking new Museum of I…
The brand spanking new Museum of …
The new museum and the city skylin…
The new museum and the city skyli…
A traditional Qatari/ Middle Easte…
A traditional Qatari/ Middle East…
The modern Doha city skyline with …
The modern Doha city skyline with…
A lot of Qatars historicla wealth…
A lot of Qatar's historicla wealt…
Orie the Oryx, mascot of the 2006 …
Orie the Oryx, mascot of the 2006…
Construction here is a constant th…
Construction here is a constant t…
Referred to as the Ming the Merci…
Referred to as the 'Ming the Merc…
Shopping is a way of life in Qatar…
Shopping is a way of life in Qata…
The elaborate interior of the Vill…
The elaborate interior of the Vil…
Villagio shopping centre.
Villagio shopping centre.
The small canal network that runs …
The small canal network that runs…
Mini-gondolas within Villagio.
Mini-gondolas within Villagio.
Hello!  One of the residents of QA…
Hello! One of the residents of Q…
Thor spots something in the distan…
Thor spots something in the dista…
Katherine, coffee and Krispy Kreme…
Katherine, coffee and Krispy Krem…
Doha Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Not super-cheap but the finest 'all you can eat' experience of my life to date.
So nearly 3 months on the road often with nothing more on the daily menu than backpack bruised-to-death bananas, over-priced foil packets of salted ca… read entire review
Doha
photo by: Stevie_Wes