I hope you’re having a great one! As for me, I’m in a flurry of packing. It’s tough not only getting all my camera/electronic stuff together, but also for the whole family! Since stuff is sort of expensive here in New Zealand, we’re going with half-empty bags so the kids can get some clothes and stuff when they get back to Austin to visit the grandparents.
Daily Photo – Downtown Doha
I didn't get much time to shoot in the middle of Doha, Qatar, but I did get in a few shots from across the water like this. Most of my time in Doha was spent in labyrinth-like bazaars that make you forget you're in the middle of a modern megapolis. I was here with my family, and we found the whole country to be very welcoming and the people were extremely nice. I recommend a family trip here to see something a bit different! Be sure to get out to the desert too. Also, click on this category to see the other entries on Doha, as you don't want to miss that Iranian-designed restaurant that is made out of crystals.
We took the family out for a camel ride in the desert in Qatar because, well, why not! The funniest thing was that Ethan's camel was really grumpy and would just make ridiculous noises the whole time. This pleased his sisters to no end!
I gotta get back to Qatar! There was so much to see and do there. I only had three days while there with the family and the family was a little bit sick too, so that slowed us down a bit. I didn’t visit this area until the last day, but there were so many amazing photos I could have taken here and I really look forward to going back! 🙂
Daily Photo – The End of the Call to Prayer
One of my favorite things about being in the middle east is hearing the call to prayer 5 times a day. I first came across this in Fes (which is not in the middle east, but mostly Muslim). It's so surreal to be standing outside, especially on a veranda or on a roof and hear the call to prayer singing through the sky from every direction. I am not Muslim or anything, but I think it's just so interesting and unusual and pretty to hear.
Once again, I stayed in a place not long enough! Right after three nights in Oman, we came here for another three nights. This was all meant to be sort of an “amuse bouche” of the Middle East for the family… just enough to get everyone excited enough to want to come back!
We arrived at the Sharq Village & Spa in Doha. Actually, it was amazingly close to the airport. I think it took us less than 10 minutes to arrive! And then, upon entry, we met our personal butler. He was a heck of a nice guy from Serbia. He took us to our room, showed us around, and showed us all the various surprises they left for us. There was so much fruit it was insane. And every day they kept bringing more fruit. It was Very Nice, but at some point I had to say, “ENOUGH WITH THE FRUIT I LOVE IT BUT IT’S TOO MUCH!” haha it was so funny… it just kept coming!
Anyway, one of our first stops was to the old souk, which was absolutely incredible. I was amazed and blown away by the feel of this souk. I could have shopped in there forever. Then we went to an amazing Iranian restaurant called Parisa. You’ll see some of the intricate glassworks in a photo below.
Besides more great spa treatments, yoga, and food, we also had an incredible cooking class from the head chef of a new restaurant that is supposed to open there called Al Dana. It’s one of the only beachfront restaurants in all of Doha… and wow was that chef Evangelous Liakouris ever nice!
This is the Sharq Village and Spa at night, a view as we are walking back to our room.
Here the kids are in their cooking class with the head chef of Al Dana, Evangelous Liakouris.
A man emerges from a mosque as the call to prayer is ending…
There are actually two Ritz-Carlton in Doha. I had a chance to go over to this other one for an INTENSE Italian dinner that was beyond description called Porcini. The kids even got to go into the kitchen to make some pizzas!
Approaching the souk…
The action inside the souk!
One day we came back and our butler surprised us, taking us to the beach where there was a camel named Jamilla! Isabella loves ALL animals so she would go back to visit Jamilla again and again and again 🙂
Daily Photo – Sharq Village & Spa, The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Doha, Qatar
And here's the inside of that most incredible restaurant, Parisa. The manager told me that a bunch of women flew in from Iran to do all the glass decorations and it took them over three years. And guess what, this is JUST the hallway! Wait till you see the main room! I'll save that for a later post.
Qatar was a tough place for us, with the Ratcliff Family hitting an all-time low. I was pretty sick, and actually still am while editing this together on the 6-hour flight to Rome. Ethan was quite sick and spent over 24 hours in bed eating soup and smelling like old soup. He’s a bit better now, so that is good… my cough and runny nose lingers like the memory of mounting a camel. That sounds bad…
We started out with a morning desert safari that included some awkward moments on both camels and trucks. The dunes here were, even more, extreme than Oman, so the girls were, at least, ready for it. You can see more in the video for sure. Tina sure was screaming when she got on that camel… all of them were. Ethan had quite a grumpy camel, which did nothing to help his mood.
And then we had an incredible cooking class from an amazing chef at our hotel at The Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village named Evangelos Liakouris. He was like a Greek Vic Gundotra that can cook. It was over two hours long and the girls went nuts, especially with the “Deconstructed Black Forest Cake.” From there, we went to another epic dinner at the other Ritz-Carlton in Doha at an Italian restaurant called Porcini where the kids got to make some pizzas. Once again, another day of non-stop eating!
Qatar is one of those little financial powerhouses in the middle east that has no shortage of the accoutrements of fine living. This is the Qatar Airlines terminal, where I was practically alone except for an army of servants, none of whom were from Qatar.
While on the flight, I got this Qatar Airlines sleeping-shirt that was long-sleeved and just about one of the nicest shirts I’ve ever gotten. My family makes fun of me because I wear it all the time around the house at night. It’s soft, fits perfect, and, did I mention it’s soft? One time, our maid washed it and misplaced it for a few weeks. I was lost without it… I kept asking everyone, “Where’s my Qatar Airlines shirt!” They thought I was crazy… But now, it’s back in my control and everything is okay.
This is such an extreme title for what is a fairly commonplace thing in Doha, I am sure. I thought the internal architecture here and this vase was really spectacular, so I did my best to caputre the scene to share with you all!
I spent a massive amount of time in airports during my 3-day trek via Qatar on my most recent trip to Kuala Lumpur. There were snow delays in Atlanta, which made me spend a night there, and then because everything was sold out, the only way to get to KL was via Doha, which, ashamedly, I had to look up. I thought I was kind of a world traveler, but I had not heard of Doha. I admit it.
But then I flew into Doha and on approach, it looks a lot like Dubai, but not nearly as much as the ultra-posh lounge area. I was warned many times by grisly-looking security guards not to take any photos of any people in the lounge, especially if they were wearing the national uniform.