Our five year adventure in Doha, Qatar ended June 1, 2012, but the memories will always remain. It's back to Texas where I have decided...Qatar isn't cornering the market on "quirky", as I once believed. Thanks for opening my eyes to the world, Doha!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Torch

Kristi's last meal request before heading back to Texas was to check out the newest and only revolving restaurant in Qatar, 360. Not only does it gives diners a 360˚view of the city, or as far as the haze will allow, it revolves so they don't have to. This fancy schmancy diner is located on the 47th floor of The Torch Hotel in Aspire Zone. Yeah, you didn't know that either, did you? That 2006 Asian Games torch has been converted to a 5-Star, 167 room luxury hotel. Now, who says Doha doesn't recycle? Be ready for some early bird specials, as they are hoping to be ready to take reservations November 1st. So if you haven't booked your Eid holiday, you may have a vacation option right here in your own backyard. Fast forward. After lunch, the manager gave Kristi and myself a grand tour of the facility. I wasn't prepared for pics, or rather I didn't want to pull my bazooka camera out of my purse and embarrass Kristi, so my limited mobile snaps will have to suffice. Each room and/or suite is equipped with "mood" lighting. So, what color are you? Just dial it up and voila. Cute, novel, but maybe a bit over the top. The pool is located on the umpteenth floor on that protruding platform in the tower. Hmm, I've been known to be a bit of a scaredy cat. I'll pass. They have great social gathering areas, very casual and chic, to munch on hors d'oeuvres and sip on juice. Mocktail zone only. This is not The Pearl, gang, and it is government owned. The spa and gym are state of the art with Internet browsing on the workout machines. Oh, and free Internet everywhere in the hotel, including the dining area even for non overnight guests. Score. My intention was to review the restaurant, but I've blabbed on too long. Another day. Inshallah.

This is the steam room in the spa. I had a flashback of our visit to The Golden Palace in Bangkok a few years back...Intense.

Birds eye view of Doha from 47 floors up

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Star Gazing

In my previous post, I made mention that Tahar Rahim, the heroic prince in Black Gold, "had me at hello". Well, he literally did today, as Kristi and I bumped into him at the Doha Ritz...

Jan Uddin, Me, Tahar Rahim, Kristi

He and fellow Black Gold cast member, Jan Uddin, were gracious enough to stop for a chat and pose for photo ops. If that wasn't enough, we also spoke with Robin Wright...you know, Jenny. No, not from the block, but from Forrest Gump fame. Ok, Sean Penn's ex, however you wish to remember her. I didn't ask her to ham it up for the camera, so I just chose the chicken shot.

You'll just have to trust me on this one. It's her
walking aside my friend, Nasser.

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Black Gold Delivers

At a film festival near me...

Kristi and I trekked over to Katara yesterday to check out the world premier of Black Gold at The Doha Tribeca Film Festival. Back up. On second thought, I'm not sure if we can really call it the world premier, since our tickets were for the second screening that started thirty minutes after the first. Just for posterity purposes, I'm going to say it qualified. We were in the beautiful Katara Opera House while the other screening was occurring at the open air theater at Katara, constructed just for the event. No complaints from me not being in the "open air". Our controlled temperature environment with red cushy velveteen seats suited me just fine. A pleasant surprise awaited us on our chairs in a black gold embossed envelope filled with umpteen Black Gold commemorative post cards. Nice touch DTFF. For me, the gift alone was well worth the 30QR ($8) admission fee. As for the movie itself, I found it enjoyable and entertaining, but remember I have somewhat of a skewed interest. Parts of it were filmed in the deserts of Qatar, where I, myself, have ridden the high dunes and faced those horrid desert winds. Ok, so maybe not while fighting off the enemy. Nonetheless, Antonio Banderas brings a bit of mirth to his royal emir self while struggling for power with the handsome rival emir payed by Mark Strong. And Tahar Rahim, well, he had me at hello. Freida Pinto, (Tahar's love interest in the movie) was just ok, seeming a bit awkward at times or maybe it was just her character. Who knows. The only drawback in the film, for me, was missing out on some of the conversation. The "English" speaking characters were pretty heavily accented at times and I could have used some English subtitles along with the Arabic ones that were displayed. Other than that, kudos to all involved for bringing film to the desert.

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Doha ~ It's a Small Small World

I don't think we shall ever again, live, in a such

a personable, small world as Doha

Funny story. Well, I think it's funny. My blog, I call the shots. In case you didn't know, Kristi is visiting us and on her "Last time I might get to visit Qatar to do list" is Oriental Carpet. Oriental Carpet is one of those must visit stores when in Doha. It has all your souvenir needs from beautiful Persian rugs to camel decorated Christmas ornaments. I bought a carpet there a few years back and usually take visitors there to peruse the eclectic selection of items. So, maybe I visit twice a year? Anyway, the moment we walked into the store, the welcoming gent that runs it looks at me and says, "Ohhhh, I've been waiting for you to come by. I have something for you!" I instantly think, sales pitch. He reaches behind the counter and pulls out the October issue of Qatar Happening magazine and says, "There is a picture of you and your husband in this magazine." Now I'm thinking, you are definitely mistaking me for someone else. I was already preparing myself for his impending embarrassment which would make me have to come up with something witty and nice to say for why he's got the wrong person. Then lo and behold, he points to a picture barely bigger than a postage stamp of mine and David's mugshots at a Doha Tweetup. Seriously, I could hardly tell it was us, even with my glasses that I had to whip out. Back to my first thought, what a sales pitch. I hope David likes the piece of furniture that I bought :)

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Street to Where?

Doha's street to nowhere

I find it a bit ironic that this street sign has been put up in a deserted area, in the most literal since of the word. It's just down the street from me. No, don't ask me my street name. I wouldn't get it right. Heck the city can't even get it right as it is spelled differently at the two nearest roundabouts. Even though, Qatar has made leaps and bounds in marking their roads and intersections these last few years, there is so much more ground to cover. Street names seem to be relatively new. No one in this country asks what street you live on. That tidbit seems to be irrelevant. Directions please. Area? Near what roundabout? How many slip roads down? Or you can always just give my favorite directions to the newbies, "take a right at the mosque". Yeah, good luck with that ;P;P

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Staying or Going?

As previously
announced in July,
David's tour of duty in Qatar is up.

So are we staying or are we going? Both. We sorta kinda have a temporary reprieve. Well, I do anyway. It looks like David will be headed to Saudi Arabia mid November for a few months. Me? I'll head to Texas for my usual holiday hiatus. As it stands at this very moment in time, I'll return to Doha after the holidays (wives are not allowed to accompany the hubby's on limited assignments) and hold down Fort Pink. What? In Doha sans David?! So, how do I feel about that? Not sure. It's only temporary. I'll make do. I can eat at restaurants that don't have iced tea? Repeat, only temporary. Those are the thoughts running through my head today. Ask me again tomorrow if you don't like those answers. David will only be an hour's flight away, but we're not sure how all the logistics will work out as far as the possibilities of him coming and going on a whim. On the positive side, we'll be in the same time zone which should make communications a breeze and we can even have dinner together via Skype. Technology. Now, with all this said, my news flash could all change tomorrow or even today when he gets home from work. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

I could just hop in my Jeep and go from A to B in 7 hours, BUT women are not allowed to drive in The Kingdom.

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bring on the Rain

A few clouds arrive in Doha and the last three days of #blackberryfail chatter have stopped.

Heaven help us when it rains...

I'm not any different...just the possibility of rain
gives me warm fuzzies.

Pictures tweeted by @expatemily (inset) and @kiwipaula
To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Doha?

...Other than Miss Kristi who will arrive next week!

Pretty much the entire cast of Black Gold, that's who.

Doha Film Institute has been rolling out hints on twitter and facebook of who is going to grace our fair desert for the much anticipated Doha Tribecca Film Festival coming up. As of right now, it looks as though this billboard will come alive in the next two weeks, not only on the big screen but in the flesh. Nothing like dangling a little Antonio Banderas in front of me to get my hiney off the couch and head to City Center Mall this afternoon to get in line for tickets to the world premier of Black Gold (partly filmed in Qatar). Whoa, "hello line". I had great intentions but came up a bit when I saw that it might take awhile. If I had known without a doubt that if I stood in that long line and walked out with tickets in hand I wouldn't have hesitated. No disrespect to DTFF, but let's face it friends, we are in Doha and a gut feeling came over me that the tickets to the premier would be set aside for "special" people and the last time I checked, my "wasta" card had expired. I chit chatted with a friend that I saw in line and made my final decision to exit the building. I'll take my chances for tickets from the comfort of my laptop in my pink villa, if they ever get their online sales in order. Good luck to those who are waiting it out. That's a wrap.

Follow up:

All good things come to those who wait...

Oh, ME, who has little faith :(
To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pass the Pumpkin

Do we celebrate Halloween in Qatar, you ask? I don't know about everyone else, but our major grocery stores, LuLu and Carrefour do. For about $4.50 a pound you can take one home this holiday season for all your jack~o~lantern and pumpkin pie needs. Note the one in the pic prices out at 1576 QR. That would be a whopping 433 U.S. buckaroos.

Like I said, pass the pumpkin, literally. Sweet potato pie is sounding better and better.

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Heat Relief

The Pearl Marina ~ Qatar

David and I took advantage of today's fair weather and spent the evening soaking up some fresh air and scenery at The Pearl. Yes, fall is in the air. It's hard to imagine when the temps are still in the 90's, but being my fifth October in Doha I've come to appreciate those digits. It's not really a magic temperature, it's the falling humidity that accompanies it that makes those here know that the season is upon us. Before you know it our local newspapers will be calling for all to "get out the woolies!". Yes, it would seem a bit premature for most of us, but there are those that take it and run. The first morning that the 70's mark is broken, you can bet that people will be running to Carrefour, snatching up every space heater in sight. God bless them. Bring it on mother nature. Hit me with your best shot.

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bella Toscana!

After a week in Tuscany, it is so hard to whittle down the pictures and events of our stay. I decided to summarize it with mainly the farmhouse. If we had not had a car at our beck and call, we would have been perfectly content staying on the grounds of Cretatoile and soaking up the area by foot.

The highlight of our week visit in Tuscany was our stay at Cretaiole. It is a beautiful agriturismo located in the heart of the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Val d'Orcia. David and I had a beautiful one bedroom efficiency style apartment while our traveling companions stayed in a three bedroom apartment above us. Just as beautiful as the views from our window was our hostess, Isabella, that welcomed us and made our stay relaxing, yet full of activities.

This is an early morning view of the city of Pienza from Cretaiole. The tranquility of the area was amazing. Our post sunrise hike led us past one of the most photographed sites in Tuscany, the Chapel of The Madonna di Vitaleta as well as past a cypress tree lined drive that was included in the movie, The Gladiator.

Chapel of The Madonna di Vitaleta

The scenic beauty was not the only offerings that Cretaiole had in store for us. There were wine and olive oil tastings, pasta cooking classes, biking, along with restaurant and tour suggestions. The much anticipated event of the year, the "vendemmia" was announced for the Wednesday while we were there. Yes, we wholeheartedly harvested Cretaiole's grapes, but much to my dismay, no stomping. The famous I Love Lucy episode that I refreshed myself on before leaving Qatar went to waste as that is no longer the way of the land.

After work and play every evening at Cretaiole, many of the guests met with the family patriarch, Luciano, for an evening of hand gestures and grappa, along with my new found friend, limoncello. Luciano did not speak a word of English, but somehow camaraderie and fellowship with alcohol trumped all language barriers. Salute! Oh, did I mention the fact that my brother in law speaks Italian?

Cretaiole was the core of our Tuscany visit, but we also ventured out to Assisi, Sienna, Pienza, Orvieto, among other small towns. So much to be discovered, so little time. Ciao!

Tuscan Sunset from Cretaiole's grounds

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Back From Tuscany

Back from Tuscany...fat and tired. The official weigh in was 4.4 pounds more than when I left just nine days ago. Ouch...still trying to figure out the exact cause. Was it the olive oil tasting, the pasta cooking class, the feast I was served for harvesting the grapes, the dessert at every meal, the occasional gelato thrown in to round out our three square meals (more like three meals squared) a day? Food overload from this week would be an understatement. We even got bumped to Business Class on Qatar Airways for our trip home last night. Pass the Godiva chocolates please, the right hip needs a little more.

The Tuscan sun goes down on our holiday,
but leaves great memories behind.

My Doha antics will return, but please allow me to cling to our Tuscan adventures for a bit. Yes, that means you have to cling with me. Pictures forthcoming ;P

To read or leave comments, please click on the comments link below. Thanks!