Homeward Bound - The Final Days
Our stopover in Doha, Qatar was planned not only to break up the flight home and give us a chance to recover from the rigours of India but also to provide a taste of the Middle East. It didn't disappoint......
As we came in to land we had an excellent aerial view of Qatar - it seemed like almost all of it - flat desert with a few small towns of low buildings then Doha, which is very much 21st century - built on reclaimed land and making a beautiful seaside city. From the air the design with crescent shaped bays was obvious and the sea around an incredible aqua blue.
We arrived really early in the morning so having a few hours to kill before we could get into our hotel room we decided to take a stroll along the 'prom' - a semi-circle around one of the beautiful bays to the city centre. Quite mesmerised by the view of high rise buildings looking like a new New York skyline, (like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, incredibly lit up at night), we walked the entire 4.5 miles and found ourselves in the centre so some adventures still to be had! Up closer the buildings are quite individual - a variety of shapes and unusual architecture. As mentioned in our previous blog, we both felt ready to leave India and were really quite looking forward to getting home but that morning especially, the quieter, cooler, cleaner & far less crowded city of Doha proved a very pleasant interlude on our journey home. As well as the modern towers we also found more traditional souks (markets) and museums with a definite Middle East flavour.
Although many men wear the traditional white robes and headdress we spent some time working out the differences. An expensive pen, watch and cuff links, ostensibly on display, seemed to be the indication of Qatari citizenship. The red chequered headdress apparently is just a trend.....from London? There are also the million or so workers on two year contracts and they come from all over the world.
We really were on our last legs and didn't feel like too much more adventure, so a little shopping...and lots of sitting in restaurants/ cafés was the order of the day. The highlight for me was the Shisha water pipe (hookah or hubbly bubbly) which to my surprise lasted for over an hour so you were supposed to order it before the meal rather than after which meant a long stay on our first attempt. The food, (especially the kebabs which are nothing like our late night version), was excellent though Catherine was defeated by the quantities provided. The shopping centres and markets were huge, very spacious and not overcrowded which made for pleasant shopping and when I got bored a trip to the movies, in 3D. The markets sold everything... and I mean everything....the variety of birds in the pet corner including hawks and sakers (very expensive) was particularly interesting.
Unfortunately we didn't have time for a trip out to the desert but maybe another time! I get the impression that a week would let you see the whole country.
Our final flight of the trip (18th and 2nd longest) was fairly uneventful .......no, I didn't say enjoyable - still don't like flying - but it was great be greeted by Catherine's brother and wife and unexpectedly pleasant weather - although a little cooler than we were used to - and then a safe journey home with no haggling over the price! Thanks Pete and Jill for that and keeping an eye on the house and garden.
So seven months, four continents and about 46,000 miles later we have finished our adventure. We've walked (- alot) cycled, travelled by rickshaw, bicycle rickshaw, auto rickshaw, jeep, car, bus, coach, truck, train (46), plane (18), ferry, sailing junk, canal boat, water buffalo, elephant and camel. We've slept under the stars in swags and of course in tents, huts, home stays, hostels, apartments, hotels...about 90, airports, trains, boats, monasteries, forts and palaces. We've dipped our toes or more into 16 seas, gulfs and oceans, seen sharks and crocodiles, pandas and tigers and some incredible scenery. We've eaten and drunk lots of different things and had a few adventures but most importantly, met some wonderful people and had some fantastic times.
Thanks for all the support and comments - it was great to know that you were with us in spirit and enjoying our adventures too! Maybe you are wondering where we're off to next?! Well, at least for the moment, the truth is that after all that travel......"there's no place like home"......!!
Eleanor Glad you have both arrived back home safely after your long and adventurous travels. Will miss reading your blog and looking through your amazing photos. At least you have brought the lovely warm weather back with you. Hopefully speak soon. Take care.
Caroline Baldry It has been lovely reading your blog and so glad that you both really enjoyed your adventure. Enjoy your time at home for the moment x
Anna it's been so interesting following your adventure over the last seven months. Glad you have both had such a fantastic time but it's great to have my sis and bro-in-law back safe and sound. XXX