Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Sleepy Little Doha

My husband used to travel in and out of Doha for years before we actually moved there. He would tell me stories about “sleepy little Doha,” before-natural gas Doha, in a country that was not the richest country in the world. The international community then was so small that they would gather at the American Ambassador’s residence on Fridays for drinks and a cook-out, casually exchanging information and gossip on a lazy afternoon. This was also pre 9-11, when the need for mind-numbing security was not so imperative.

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I received the above photo in the mail today, and I laughed out loud and showed AdventureMan. We were there when the Sheraton Hotel was “way out there” in the middle of no-where. A new mall with a Carrefour had opened near the Sheraton and was visible from the dhow parking in mid-Doha.

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Look just above the dhows, to the left of the white building with green windows and you will see a flat building and Carrefour on it.

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The pyramid on the right is the Sheraton, once the hottest hotel in Doha. To the left, you can see the white building with the green windows, which almost disappears now. I want you to notice how relatively bare the skyline is, and this is 2005.

 

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These two buildings used to be the tallest on the Corniche.

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You can see them in the lower right of this photo, dwarfed by all the new sky-scrapers. At the far left, you can see one of my very favorites, a (formerly) tall building with a mosque built jutting out in the middle. You can barely see it now; it used to be one of the most prominent buildings on the Corniche.

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This is what the building looks like when not surrounded by giants.

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This is what it looks like now, almost indistinguishable from the buildings surrounding and overwhelming it.

I used to meet a friend every Tuesday morning and walk the Corniche. We watched the buildings going up, tributes to the huge amounts of cash pouring into the Doha economy and the huge egos that need to build huge towers to put their names on. As they were being built, there were constant fires, mostly electrical, which challenged the fire department and killed the low-paid laborers. American firms seeking office space brought in experts to inspect buildings before renting them, to be sure modern, safe construction practices had been used. Most of the new high rises had been built with severe deficits, unsafe concrete, unsafe wiring, failure to allow people to evacuate safely in case of an emergency and elevators that barely worked even when brand new.

We particularly laughed at the giant phallic silver building front and center.

The extreme heat and humidity of Doha is hard on even good construction, drying out sealants on the windows (allowing dust and water to penetrate), peeling facades, making buildings a mere twenty years old look dingy and severely weathered. One relatively new building had windows popping out in its first five years.

On a hot night AdventureMan and I would have dinner downtown, often at The Majlis, and then go out to the Corniche and board one of the dhows decorated with strings of Christmas lights for a cooling ride along the coastline, where the breezes would blow and Sleepy Little Doha would sparkle.

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September 23, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Building, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar | 1 Comment

Doha, Qatar, in Transition

I didn’t start shooting digital until 2005, so there are two years of Doha documentation I only have in prints; I was shooting film, taking it down to the shop on old Electricity Street, Karabah. I came across these tonight . . . just wish I had been able to find some shots of the old Bandar restaurants, taken down with the modernization of Doha.

What a breathtaking transition. Doha, when we arrived, was still sleepy. There were a few tall buildings in the little capitol, mostly public utilities. The airport parking was free, and the airport itself was tiny. Most people knew one another, and the expat community was small. We were in Doha from 2003 – 2006, and again from 2009 – 2010.

 

When camels still had real riders at the weekly races:

 

 

 

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Parachute Roundabout Comes Down:

 

Making way for the new connector street from old Karaba to Souq al Waqaf:

 

Ramadan finery:

 

 

 

 

Dinner at The Majlis

 

Karabaa Mosque, now gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Qatar, Travel | Leave a comment

Vista House

 

You have to really want to find Vista House these days, but it is worth the effort. Two roads up there say “closed” but there is a third road, narrow and winding and seeming like you will never get there, but you do, and when you do you have a panoramic view up and down the Columbia River.

This was built to last. The ladies room is entirely marble!

 

 

 

 

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Saint Hotel, New Orleans

What you see is the trips we take.

What you don’t see is the planning and the occasional agony of trying to find just the right place to stay, which restaurant to try. We live in an age of information, sometimes too much information, sometimes false information. You can read reviews, and you have to filter through what they like to glean nuggets pertaining to what you like.

I was looking for a hotel in New Orleans. There are a lot of hotels in New Orleans. We stay frequently at the Westin, at the foot of Canal, for one reason. It is perfect with the grandchildren – the room is spacious, there is parking close by, the kids LOVE the elevator on the outside of the hotel, we can walk to restaurants in the French Quarter, it is close to Magazine street, and a short drive to the Zoo, and it is right next to the Aquarium. (It is also right next to the Algiers Point Ferry I just told you about.)

We have another hotel, the French Market Inn, which we love, but it is noisy, and the rooms we love are actually the noisiest. Others are dark, and smaller.

I found a special offer on a new hotel in the Marriott chain, which is a chain I love because of their customer service training. It looked . . . intriguing. Not like any place we have stayed before. So I booked at The Saint. I liked the location; I liked the novelty.

 

And, as it turned out, I totally loved the hotel.

The entry to the hotel is at least two floors high, with long flowing panels breaking up the space. The lines are clean, the colors soothing – and bold.

For some reason, I think of the room as cobalt blue, when in reality, as I see the photo, the walls were white, with just a small portion of cobalt, and the rug was cobalt. There where long flowing white sheers, and the combination of the cobalt and the white was serene.

The receptionist was welcoming, and efficient, and gave us a couple good ideas for dinner. Meanwhile, it had started raining, and we loved the room so much we took a nap. Even overlooking Canal Street, the room was quiet and . . . serene. The bed was lovely, the bathroom was spacious and sparkling clean with a clear bowl sink – we just loved the room.

 

This was the door to our room – every door was different:

The hallway had blue lights.

It was pouring rain when we went out to eat, and it didn’t matter. We were near so many good restaurants, and we had this lovely room to come back to.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Building, Customer Service, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , | Leave a comment

More Doha, Qatar in Transition

I’ve had such great feedback from all my friends for whom these photos bring back a lot of memories. So, a few more.

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January 6, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Building, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Photos, Qatar | | 2 Comments

Sea Star at The Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet

It took me months to narrow down where we would stay on Vancouver Island’s west side. There are all kinds of accommodations, high end with a spa and well known restaurant, camping, and everything in between.

What matters to us? We like having enough space, and we really like natural wood finishes. Most of all, for me, I want a view of the water.

I booked the Terrace Beach Resort not knowing if it was as good as it promised. When we arrived, it didn’t look like much from the road, it looks like an old fashioned fishing village. We signed in, and were taken to our cabin, #9 Sea Star. It has three stories, bedrooms on the top floor and the bottom floor, and living room and kitchen and main bathroom on the entry level. Oh, and a huge deck with a hot tup and grill. And leather furniture. And oh wow. The view. It is also next to a hiking trail we wanted to hike.

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Here is the view 🙂

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Living room area

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Upstair bedroom

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Upstairs hot tub with that view 🙂

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Attention to detail – candles for those unexpected power outages

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The kitchen

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And 🙂  the sunset!

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They have a wide variety of cabin types, each one different. There is a beach, perfect for sending the kids down; you can watch them from the balcony. There is a modern TV, and a modern kind of fake fireplace, there are books and CDs you can rent. Or you can hike the Lighthouse Trail 🙂

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel | 1 Comment

Summit Lake Lodge and the Sterling Highway

We hate to leave Homer, a truly wonderful place on God’s earth, and even more glorious in the full sunlight:

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We drive along the Sterling Highway en route to Anchorage, a totally different day from the rainy day we drove from Seward to Homer. On this day, we are caught in traffic, all the fisherpeople heading to the Kenai river, lined up to catch salmon. The scenery is beautiful, and AdventureMan spots a moose and her calf (not pictured) grazing near the highway.

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We stop for gas and a pit stop at Grizzly Ridge, and the restrooms are immaculately clean:
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We start getting hungry. We actually stop at one place, but the food is all tired looking, and not fresh, so we continue on. AdventureMan spots Summit Lake Lodge and we agree this is the right pace to stop:
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After lunch, we stretch our legs a little; Summit Lake Lodge is on a beautiful, huge lake:
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There is a beautiful ice cream and coffee shop on the Lodge grounds where we enjoy a huckleberry ice cream before we hit the road again on our way to Anchorage.

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Environment, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips | , , , , | Leave a comment

Secret Addiction: Alaska The Last Frontier

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Every Sunday and Monday I get a bunch of hits on an entry I did back in August about where the Kilcher family “really” lives. The Kilcher family is featured on a Discovery Channel show called Alaska The Last Frontier. It was a joke because I had no idea where they lived; we just wanted to explore the roads around Homer and that was a house I saw – and there were a lot of really nice homes in Homer, homes that looked like they had a lot of self-sustaining features – barns, corrals, heavy farm machinery, solar panels, chicken coops, etc.

As it turns out, by accident, we were pretty close when I took that photo. When you look on Google maps, you will see, off East End Road, a road called Kilcher road. Makes sense to me that would be where at least some of the Kilcher clan live.

Do you watch Alaska The Last Frontier? It is a reality show, and kind of hokey. Like I grew up in Alaska, I’ve been in Homer, it’s not like they are Little Town on the Prairie. They are just miles away from a wonderful grocery and department store, hardware stores, some very nice restaurants, sweet summer market – they have doctors and veterinarians, they are not out in the wilderness where their only access is the weekly bush pilot – if he can get in through the wildly blowing snow-storm, if you catch my drift.

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And yet . . . Sunday evening comes around and I have to get my fix. I am addicted. Yes, they are hokey, but I guess it is a kind of quixotic hokeyness I like. They hunt, and they eat the meat they hunt. I grew up that way, and what I just hate are hunters who hunt because they think it makes them big men, especially if they hunt farmed animals. The Kilchers shoot animals they can eat. They even eat bear, which, if you’ve ever eaten bear (shudder) takes a lot of something – red wine, spices, barbecue sauce – to cover up that gamey taste.

They hunt to fill the freezers to have meat through the winter, but they also build things, and have all kinds of guy-toys – bulldozers, cranes, snowmobiles, tractors, ATV’s. They build bridges, a huge garage – you know, manly Alaska sorts of things 🙂

The women garden, keep cattle, milk cows, knit, raise chickens for eggs, do a lot of the fishing – I admire that. I think it is a good thing to stay close to the earth, even having to figure out how to get water from the spring into your cabin (pretty nice cabin, spectacular view.)

They camera work and editing are amazing. Mostly they edit out the most modern conveniences – we can tell they are ‘on the grid’, i.e. they have electricity, because the lighting is electric, but they pretty much crop out any appliances, and any other nearby homes, the Homer spit – LOL – the Homer Spit is about the most prominent natural feature in Kachemak Bay, and you never even see it on Alaska The Last Frontier.

So it’s a little deceptive. I can live with that. I admire the Kilcher family for their commitment to doing their best to be self-sustaining, good neighbors, while bowing to the inevitable convenience of buying Levis and flannel shirts at the Safeway down the road. No, they don’t show us those things; it probably wouldn’t have so many followers if they did. It’s still a lot of fun following the series, and I am guessing – hoping – that the season finale will feature a new birth, and a new member of the Kilcher family.

I have one suspicion, based on having lived in Alaska for many years when I was a kid. Alaskans love Hawaii. Every year, the Discovery Channel films the Kilchers from spring thaw to hard freeze of winter . . . I am betting your find the Kilcher family on the beaches in Hawaii during at least a part of those long hard winters 😉

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Blogging, Building, Community, Cultural, Entertainment, Environment, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Values | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Have You Seen the Photo of Qatar’s New Stadium?”

. . . our son asked us after work today.

 

We both looked blank. No, no we haven’t.

 

He brought up the photo on the iPad. Oh. NO. Noooooooooo!

 

LOL, who sold this idea to the Qataris?

 

People are already calling it the Vagina Stadium. Oh NOOOO!

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I know just the Qatar skyscraper to partner with this new stadium; I shuddered as it was rising on the Corniche:

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Hilarious!

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Building, Doha, ExPat Life, Humor, Living Conditions, Qatar | | 3 Comments

Seville’s Palace Cafe for Breakfast

We had a favorite place for breakfast, Adonna’s, but first they discontinued AdventureMan’s favorite – Biscuits and Gravy – and then they discontinued mine, which was Cinnamon Roll French Toast. What to do? Where to go? We go often to The Scenic Diner, but we wanted something different.

We checked out a few places but nothing felt right. Then we remembered the Palace Cafe at Seville, a place we had wanted to try for breakfast for quite a while.

They had a good crowd, but we were seated immediately and coffee and tea arrived within minutes. As we ordered, AdventureMan said “oh! We haven’t had beignets here; let’s have those!” and I applaud the waitress, who didn’t bat an eye, didn’t say a thing, not a single thing about all the times I have been there with GCCDC groups and ordered beignets for all the tables, because they are so good.

When they arrived, I told AdventureMan how often I had them before; I just couldn’t let him believe a lie. These beignets are like the ones we ate in New Orleans, a little like the lightest deep fried donut you ever ate. So much air, and powdered sugar – that can’t be all that bad for you, right? Right? Aren’t they beautiful?

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I had the Palace eggs, which comes with grits or hash browns or fruit, and it was perfect:

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AdventureMan had the breakfast croissant. He said it was a pretty good croissant – he still misses our breakfasts in France.
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There were families there, children playing while the adults visited. There were adult groups, there were buddies. It was active without being noisy.

It was also one of the best breakfasts we have had in a long time. We love this place.

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October 24, 2013 Posted by | Building, Character, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant | , , , | Leave a comment