Day 4 Mon 20 Feb 2006
Awoke early (7am) and had a shower and an early breakfast before the french tour group had got up. My ear plugs ensured that I slept through the call to prayer (not that I mind it, it reminds you that you are somewhere different). I walked up to the city gate again, and I was going to climb up to the top, but the Gallery you have to walk through was shut (even tho' the sign outside said it opened at 9am!). Felt rather light headed (could it be the altitude finally getting to me?) so headed back to the hotel. Checkout was painless, $40 for the two nights, and $7 for the meal last night (they had forgotten all about it, until I mentioned it!). Popped down to my hole in the wall shop to buy a bottle of water, to say goodbye, and to take a photograph.
I'm now sitting downstairs in the hotel, watching an arab version of MTV, waiting for my taxi to the airport. The taxi didn't turn up, but no stress, I ended up chatting to a local guide who was off to the airport later to collect 12 French tourists, and take them hiking in the hills. At 13:30 I decided to see if another taxi could be arranged (it turned up in minutes!). The drive to the airport was incident free. There was a small queue at the security check at the airport (mainly caused by some French tourist with a lot of luggage), but the checkin desks were (again) empty. A departure form to fill in, another stamp in the passport, and I'm now in the departure section of the airport. There is only one gate so I don't have to worry about that, but my flight isn't on the one display that is working. Oh Well..
Eventually the flight was called (literally, by one of the security guards manning the x-ray scanner, in arabic). I just heard the word 'Doha' and every one else started to move!
It was a bus out to the plane, and I waited until the very end before I went out. Everyone else was pushed towards one bus, but they pointed at another one for me, so I got on - then I realised I was on the Business Class coach! I'd like to believe that it was because I was wearing a jacket.. Then I wondered if I'd been upgraded? 9D, that's a low number..
Right, I'm on the plane now, it's a 3x3 and I'm in the second row of economy, my dreams of an upgrade were blown when I realised that business only had three rows!
Arrived at Doha with no problems, and joined the queue to get a visa. Top Tip: if there is more than one queue that you can join, then check out who is in the queue. Indians and Chinese queue much more densely than say, Europeans. So the queues might look the same length, but boy will there be a difference in the number of people in them! Eventually got to the front of the queue, paid 55 Qatar Riyals for my visa (on my credit card!), and got another stamp in the passport.
20 QAR got me a taxi to my hotel (Doha Palace) in down town Doha, my room is 'interesting' a huge room with a chair, a table and a single bed, they look so small because the room is so big! The window looks out onto a flat roof, on which a number of men are building something.
Went out for a walk, and found the Corniche - Doha maybe walkable, but it's not foot friendly. If you're on the Gulf side of the Corniche and you want to get back into town, then there is a dual carriage way with no crossing points standing in your way. I brought a phone card, and tried to organise a desert trip, but all the tour agencies were shut, well it was gone 8pm.. Tomorrow.