Having decided to change my career, I thought that I deserved a wee holiday to celebrate. Now, most people would book a long weekend in Spain or perhaps a week on a beach, but I decided that a 3 week trip to New Zealand was in order. With the blessing of my Mr Kiwi (who had to keep the UK hearth fires burning and the cat fed due to work commitments) and a brand new baby nephew to meet, I booked myself on a flight.
It’s becoming a bit of a cliche to say that the best thing about blogging is the community – but it is. Hence the cliche. I’m in the very, very lucky position to have made friends all over the world through blogging, and when I realised just how easy it was to hop off my flight to Qatar en route home, I couldn’t resist the temptation to harass Mrs Follow Your Sunshine for a few days, not to mention soak in some of the Middle Eastern sunshine.
So, instead of arranging one of those 30+ hour marathons to the other side of the world – because quite frankly they are awful – I realised that I could take a gentler meander via the Middle East, Australia and Singapore. (This is the best tip I ever have when it comes to long haul flights – break them up where you can and where time allows.)
And then, when she made the big, big mistake of inviting me to stay (hey, I can look sweet and innocent when I try) I couldn’t resist the excuse to spend a few full days with the third host of our Travel Linkup. They live on the Pearl in Doha, a man-made island overlooking turquoise seas, with a backdrop of skyscrapers.
I wore the edges of my jetlag off in the most delectable way possible.
Swimming a few laps in the 40°C sunshine, nibbled a few dates, drinking Flat Whites over blogging chat, discovering Ice Cream flavoured Oreos…
…and did a bit of work here and there. I may have also spammed Polly with the views of her own terrace whilst she spent the morning stuck in her office, but that’s the risk you take when you kindly open your home to a Kiwi.
“Please lady, please don’t steal my teepee.”
“It’s lucky you’re cute, kid.” (This was actually 3 seconds or so after she discovered in my suitcase a couple of teddy bears destined for my nephews, but using a bit of Auntie magic I managed to fish out one of her favourite toys and take a snap of her adorable face.)
Between sipping coffees and cuddles (with Sophia, obvs) – the Follow Your Sunshine ladies showed me around the highlights of their expat ‘hood.
((Sidenote: If you happened to have been outside the Islamic Museum of Art, only to see three kids (two a bit taller than the third) giggling and taking shoefies, that may have been us.))
My tour guides and I made our way around the modern marvel that is the Museum of Islamic Art – designed but famous architect I. M. Pei (best known for his glass pyramid outside of the Louvre in Paris).
Relieved to be out of the late afternoon heat and curious to see the collections, we wandered until our next engagement called.
Qatar is an interesting place to say the least. A city that has almost literally sprung out of the Desert, it has a reputation that proceeds it and seeing life there through the eyes of an expat made it even more of an enigma.
Once the weekend arrived (Friday and Saturday) we brunched (more on that soon) with a cotillion of beautiful blogger babes (and weirdly I ran into a friend from London – I mean, what are those odds!)…
…partied until the sun when down over the Pearl…
…and brunched a little bit more at the Intercontinental Hotel. Polly hastened to assure me that life in Qatar was a little more normal than our glamourous whirlwind, and that I’d just happened to arrive on a busy weekend (and one just before Ramadan) but I’m not so convinced. Especially as we sat in the Doha branch of Hakkasan and toasted the birthdays of a couple of people who I have been stalking on the internet Polly’s friends.
Our last stop was literally a dash before I made my way back to the airport – a quick wander around the rebuilt Souk that was just lighting up as twilight fell.
All too soon it was time to make my way past the iconic bajillion dollar bear and take wing again.
Polly & Rich – thank you again so much for being such lovely hosts, and Sophia, thank you for sharing your Doha teepee with this Kiwi lady.
(Ps. for an actual guide on what to do on a Doha stopover, you need to read Polly’s post and the A-Z guide to Doha written by Wandermust Family. I was a bit lazy and jetlagged, preferring to hang out with Polly and watch a bit of In The Night Garden when Sophia wasn’t hogging the sofa.