Friday, January 21, 2011

Richard and Roly's Excellent Adventure

When we found out that Dan's parents were coming to visit us for a couple of weeks over Christmas, our first thought was, Yay!  Our second thought was, Better find out what there is to do in this country besides minor hockey and (major) shopping!

You are more likely to find these two grandparents teaching the kids the finer points of blackjack and zip-lining than knitting or playing checkers.  So it was with determination that we set out to show them all the sights of Doha while at the same time tiring them out so extensively that they would want to go to bed before us.  But since only half of the couple seemed to be suffering from jet-lag, this was difficult to do.  We gave it an honest try:

Boxing Day Madness at the Souq Waqif - Well, not really, but we did go on December 26th.  We spent a couple of hours in the morning strolling through the souqs, and we all made some small souvenir purchases.  Richard was the bravest, settling on a ghutra and ogaal, the head attire that you will see most Qatari men wearing in public.  After a very good yet simple lunch at a Lebanese restaurant in the souqs, we headed to...

The Singing Sand Dunes - Seriously.  About an hour's drive outside of the city, we explored these dunes on foot on a very windy afternoon.  We discovered that the dunes don't actually sing, but make a distinct vibration as you run down the slopes.  Future visitors can expect to have Jacob introduce them to "The Farting Sand Dunes".

The Inland Sea - We hired two drivers with a tour company to drive us (in their Landcruisers - we felt so, well, National!) to the Inland Sea.  When we ran out of highway at Sealine Resort, we stopped to ride the camels-for-hire.  Our journey continued for about another hour through the dunes until we reached the Inland Sea.  From this point, we could see the mountains of Saudi Arabia across the sea, one of which looks eerily like the Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay.  We continued back to the tour company's camp, where we spent a relaxing day and had a nice lunch of kebab, rice and dal keema prepared for us.

Dhow Cruise - No visit to Doha would be complete without a boating excursion on the Gulf.  We made arrangements for a dinner cruise on a traditional dhow boat.  Four other families joined us, all friends that  moved to Doha in August as well.  We set anchor just off Al Safliya Island, and the kids (and some of the adults) dove off the boat for a swim.  Following a dinner at sunset, we cruised back to Doha with a view of the nighttime skyline.

Al Khor and the Mangrove Forest - We took a morning drive to Al Thakira, where we went to see a mangrove forest.  In doing so, we found a great spot for future kayaking.  We then continued back to the community of Al Khor, where we had a pleasurable lunch by the pool.

The Pearl - This area is a series of manmade islands in the Gulf, about a five minute drive from our house.  It is a neighbourhood of wealth, and in amongst its waterfront condos are some very high-end retail locations, the Ferrari dealship and the Giorgio Armani store among them.  On New Year's Eve, we took a stroll at The Pearl, passing the private yachts on our way to The Chocolate Bar for ice cream.

Turkish Cuisine - In our continuing efforts to make Richard and Roly experience food from every country in the Eastern Hemisphere, we chose a great Turkish restaurant, Harput, to go for Dan's birthday.  Thankfully, I had been there previously with my good friend A.G., who is originally from Turkey, so I could point to items on the menu with reasonable confidence when it came time to order.

And They're Off! - We saved our much anticipated drive out to the camel racetrack, about 30 minutes outside of Doha, for our visitors.  There were no races on the morning we went, but the camels and their riders were training, which was probably even more fun.  The track itself is a 10 kilometer oval (who knew that camels are middle-distance runners?), and we were able to drive inside the inner oval and watch the groups run by.  We could never have imagined seeing so many camels in one place - there were literally hundreds of them.  Evidently the riders have had their pictures taken once or twice, as they smiled and waved every time they saw a camera pointed in their direction.  I'm sure I even saw a couple of camels flash their pearly whites.  When we had seen enough of the camels (and really, can you ever?), we headed to...

Zekreet - This little sojourn brought us close to the west coast of the peninsula of Qatar, and took about another half hour more, where our goal was to find Film City.  This location is a former film set for a TV series, which was left intact.  Unfortunately, we had to give up our search, but after some more research when we got home, we now know how to get there for our next visitors.

Professional Tennis - The ATP Qatar ExxonMobil Open began January 3, so we headed down to stadium to take in the action.  It was especially exciting for us to watch as Nick was a ball-boy for the tournament, and his grandparents got to see him work a couple of games that night.  (More on Nick's experience in a future entry.)

Roly and Richard also got a tour of the hockey rink, the kids' school and the Museum of Islamic Art.  We took some time to hang out by the pool, explore the compound by foot and bike, and play daily games of Settlers of Catan or The Farming Game.

Our doors are always open, and you can customize your Adventure with the Lemoings to suit your tastes.  Don't be disappointed - book now!


  1. Poor Richard...he flies halfway around the world only to play "The Farmer's Game" there's irony :)


  2. Sounds AWESOME!You should get the tourist bureau to sponsor your blog. :)