Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Corniche, the Dhow, the Pearl, Oh, My!

Busy weekend. Thursday evening we went to The Pearl to eat and, aside from the unusual customized cars waiting for valet parking, we were quite impressed. We had only driven around the exterior of The Pearl once way back in August when it was really too hot to get out of the car and do anything. So Thursday, after parking and walking to the interior, we weren't really prepared for what we found there: a gigantic promenade (we only walked half of it before we were exhausted and realized that we had to walk all the way back) encircling a harbor full of yachts, high-rise luxury accommodations (some buildings were still unfinished), lights, fountains, music, shops (many still unoccupied), restaurants (we ate at The Noodle House and were quite pleased on all accounts), caf├ęs, and water taxis. It wasn't very crowded, but the restaurants were full. Vito was in heaven running up and down the exotic marble stairs and brick walkways and playing in the water. We didn't have our camera with us or we certainly would have taken some photos. In any event, we'll be returning there to discover more of the treasure.

Then on Friday night, we attended Doha's First Traditional Dhow Exhibition at Katara Cultural Village. There was much more traffic than we had anticipated, but that simply generated more excitement about the happenings. The exhibition was a display and events celebrating the old wooden Arabic boats that go by that name, and included food, artisans, and live music. People from many different Arab nations were in attendance, and, everywhere you looked, there were different groups of people wearing their traditional garments. The dhows were all anchored together close to shore, and visitors could actually board many of the vessels that were on display.

Later on the beach, we ran into an Italian couple we know and their kids amid all the mayhem and merry-making of the exhibition, and went with them for a gelato. The kids watched Tom and Jerry inside as the adults talked outside while the cars trundled past.

Doha City Center in the Background
Finally, today, while Angela was helping judge the Academic Bridge Program's debate competition, which was an all-day affair, Vito and I went to the Corniche to catch some of the hydroplane boat races that were taking place all weekend. Since we've been here in Doha, we hadn't really made time to stroll along the Corniche, which is a beautiful landscaped area along the bay here, so we were excited to find an opportunity to explore part of it. Unfortunately, after arriving, Vito vomited on me while we were waiting for the people that we were going to meet. That didn't deter me, however. A trip to the bathroom took care of most of the unsavory side effects and we stuck around to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

We met one of my colleagues at the park there, a neighbor of his (they both had two kids), and while us fathers sat on the grass and talked, the kids played together. Vito seemed to recover enough to play a little. Soon, though, as helicopters got in position above the water, the hydroplane heats started, and we all moved closer to the water to get a better view. The races were fun to watch, and followed by the French Air Force aerobatic team.

So, there you have our weekend of water-centered activities. Back to work tomorrow. Counting the weeks until the Winter holiday. In the meantime, next week, Arabian Thanksgiving considerations?

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