T+26 days. (I'm losing track, I had to count...)
OMG what a week the last one was. We have made some new discoveries here in Doha...
1) PLANT SOUK. Wow, this place was amazing. We wanted some greenery for the apartment, and I'd already bought two small pothos ivy plants at Carrefours for way too much- but I needed to see green. Our new friends Kerry and Eric, who have shown us a ton about the city, told me under no circumstances to buy any more plants at retail prices- and this place... well, let's say it put Lowes and Home Depot to shame. It's about 20 minutes outside of Doha, near the camel racing track; it doesn't look like much to see, but once you get past the gatekeeper (no, really, a man comes to open the gate and let you in and back out) it's amazing. HUGE greenhouses, full of all kinds of plants- indoor, outdoor, trees, succulents, flowers, greenery... and cheap. We ended up with a large Chinese pine tree (looks very much like a Norfolk pine), a Chinese citrus, a huge mixed planter with anthurium, dracaena, and some other variegated foliage plants, more pothos (for my office)... and a tea rose. Tyler girl gotta have her roses. All of these were potted in nice, glazed clay pots that we would have paid a fortune for in the States- they were included in the price. Our apartment now looks homey with the strategic deployment of greenery. Happiness.
2) Oriental Carpet Company. Y'all, I had NO idea about the beautiful, hand woven carpet tradition. I'd seen the "Oriental" rugs, but those were machine woven with synthetic fibers and cheaply made. THESE carpets are truly works of art, made by hand of wool and silk in Kashmir, Iran, Afghanistan- places that have an incredible tradition of carpet-making. They're made in tiny villages, patterns and techniques being handed down for generations in the same families. They ARE meant to be used as floor covering, to be walked all over, but I felt bad doing so because they were just so gorgeous. We will be acquiring some as soon as we've saved up a bit (they are very reasonably priced, but not exactly inexpensive.) AND- the store has a second floor with really beautiful handmade jewelry from some of the same areas, as well as handmade furniture and textiles. Now you know I cannot resist the shiny, so I did walk out with a beautiful pair of sterling silver, handmade earrings. They are so pretty. And of course, when the shop dude said, "For you, I give discount- very good price!"... well, sold. (It WAS a good price for sterling silver.) We're going back there... soon.
3) Strata, the bar at the top of the Intercontinental Hotel (the City one- there's another one a little ways away on the beach.)This one's walking distance from our building, and Kerry and Eric invited us for drinks and dinner on Thursday evening to end the week. The view from up there is incredible- fifty-five floors up makes you about even with the moon (or so it seemed that night.) They also had good Happy Hour drink specials, so who am I to say no? We then had excellent Chinese food at the restaurant on the second floor. With good company, it was fantastic way to end a long week.
4) Sunrise on the Corniche. Spectacular. We both randomly woke up before 6 on Friday morning, so we walked over to the water to see the sunrise. So peaceful. If all mornings were like that, I just MIGHT turn into a morning person with enough coffee. (Speaking of coffee- I don't really do fancy, just brewed coffee with hazelnut and cream. Hard to find over here, so my best bet is an Americano with hazelnut. No cream, but cold milk'll do in a pinch. But they look at me funny when I ask for that...)
5) CAR SHOW. OMG. Cars I had only ever heard about and seen on TV were there. Ferarri, Lamborghini, Maserati, Bentley, Rolls... and my favorite, the Bugatti Veyron. World's fastest production car, which I'd seen a few times on Top Gear (shout out to Captain Slow!) They had one there yesterday, and I just stood and drooled for a while... Of course, they also had cars the average person could purchase as well- Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet... they had a new 'Vette and a gorgeous new red Camaro that I looked pretty good behind the wheel of (got the pic to prove it!) That was a fun couple of hours that made my Top-Gear-loving heart happy. Now something like this in the States would have had a moderate entry fee- but this was totally free. Even better.
6) Powerboat races. Another free event, held two blocks from us on the Corniche. It was the Qatar Cup Offshore Powerboat Races, and it started on Thursday and ended today. Big speedboats, little speedboats, even jet skis (called "aqua bikes" here) racing around a course on Doha Bay. So I got up and went down there this morning with my mug and my book and found a nice shady spot by the finish line and alternately watched the races and read. Nice morning, really. They use cranes to lift the boats in and out of the water, also pretty neat to watch. Things like this happen all the time here...
Oh! Also, Christmas came early (or late, depending on how you look at it...) this week. We had ordered things from Amazon, and Thomas' parents and one of my friends had also sent us care packages. About half of the packages were delivered this week! YAY! Now we have Whataburger Spicy Ketchup(!), Honey Nut Cheerios, beef jerky, tortilla chips, and other assorted goodies in our cabinets. So life is pretty good here...
We have a day off on Tuesday for Qatar National Sports Day, so more explorations to come... also, Thomas should have his temporary drivers license by tomorrow (please cross your fingers, this has been an extended process- bureaucracy!) so we're hoping to get out of the city and maybe to a beach next weekend!