The flight from New York to Doha was scheduled to be something like 12 hours but with a good tail wind, the bumpy journey saw as arrive into Doha, Qatar around 1.5 hours early. We flew in over the water and the city of Doha essentially materialises out of the sand – a similar experience to Dubai where all around is sand and then all of a sudden you have skyscrapers and infrastructure in the middle of nowhere. Hamal International Airport is the operational base for Qatar Airlines – as you might expect, and is the second largest airport in the Middle East – I think I read somewhere that they spent something like $16 Billion building this airport. The airport is made up of one large terminal which is split into 5 main concourses – all of which is very nice, with a large Duty Free and Retail area – the airport has some nice architecture to it and is quite spread out – so much so that they have a light rail train that runs within the main terminal to get passengers from one side to the other. We had a substantial layover in Doha and now with being early we figured it wouldn’t hurt us to us to see if we couldn’t score a hotel for a few hours to freshen up. Issue was it took us atleast an hour of going back and forth within the main terminal to finally find the transfer area to arrange this. But as luck would have it, the airline put offered us a room in town so that was a real bonus. It took us another 30 mins to get all this sorted and then we were underway, heading into the city of Doha – very exciting. The ride from the airport into the town area is around 20 – 30 mins – the airport is based right up on the edge of the Persian Gulf. The skyline varies – you can see all the infrastructure that has gone in to support the city of Doha, and then you have a couple of large blocks of sky-scrappers on the horizon, and you are back to the vastness of a desert country as you might expect.
Sharing our taxi into the city was an Australian traveller from the same flight – he had the enviable job of being a superyacht skipper. He’d docked the yacht and was heading home to Perth – he did a month on, month at home. I was very interested talking with him about the yacht itself and where he spent the year sailing, what the lifestyle was like – very cool. After whizzing our way towards the city, we were dropped off at a nice hotel and provided with a very nice room – the biggest room we had been in, in some time. We took the opportunity as night closed in on us to have a walk down town but we didn’t get too far – but enough to wet the appetite that this could be a nice spot to come back to – but maybe only for a couple of days. To be honest we got our best views of Doha later that evening when we flew out – getting a nice view of The Pearl – Qatar – the inner city circular harbour residential development that is in essence a large manmade circular island full of high rise apartment buildings – at night all lit up it looked very impressive. As to the hotel, having stretched our legs we enjoyed the opportunity to have a bite to eat, a good shower and then grabbed a couple of hours sleep before being whisked back out to the airport at around 11pm. The night air was very mild – very pleasant. Even at this hour of the night the road back to the airport was busy, as was the airport – there were loads of people transiting through the airport – our yacht skipper suggested they were probably work away workers – they were all loaded up with stuff. Re-checked in we had a couple of hours to kill so had a wander around the terminal – there were a couple of nice new cars on display, and a large oversized teddy-bear in the centre of the terminal.
The bear is called the Lamp Bear (it has a lamp over its head) and it cost the crazy sum of $6.8 million to build a few years ago – not sure what that was all about. Anyway, we had a look around and then got ourselves parked up ready to board the A380 Airbus that would take us across to Perth. This leg was scheduled to take 11.5 hours and we finally pushed off from the gates at around 2.15am and as noted, we got a great view of the city of Doha under lights – a great way to view the city. Despite best efforts, there was no sleeping for me on this leg – but the time pasted not too badly and it wasn’t too long before we approach the West Australian coastline and came into land at Perth at @ 6.15pm. The plane was held back from coming into the gate for something like 20 mins, but finally we were off and into the heat of Perth – I think it was still 32 degrees outside. After a bit of a naff customs process – my e-passport wouldn’t work and so I had to do things the old fashion way, and then we got pulled up for a scan but finally with bags in hand we came out to find Logan and Carol’s brother Trevor there to meet us – roll on family time here in Perth.