I thought I would write about my experience visiting Qatar as a woman travelling alone. I am not sure if any of you are aware but me and travelling do not go together very well. I usually end up getting on the wrong train, going to the wrong place or leaving the boss on the euro star as I got the wrong stop.
So here goes….
I successfully arrived at Heathrow airport ready to check into economy class, I had to take an extra suitcase but forgot to book in 2 cases (oops first hiccup). The lovely young lady on the desk at Qatar Airways told me it wouldn’t be a problem as both cases were slightly underweight and put them through with no charge extra charge, even though both cases together were well over 30kgs.
The check in process was simple, I had a quick coffee and then headed off to my gate. There I was met by Qatar airways staff, it was very orderly (unlike flying with easy jet) and nothing was too much trouble from the lady who was coping with a child having a tantrum to the elderly gent who needed assistance with this hand luggage. I boarded the plane, economy has plenty of leg room, the flight wasn’t full so had plenty of room to spread out. Unlike other airways, food and beverages are included in the price of the ticket. Breakfast was a choice of three, scrambled eggs, mushrooms and crispy potatoes (although not very crispy still edible), omelette with chicken sausage or chocolate pancakes. This also came with a croissant, fresh fruit and a yoghurt. Soft drinks were offered throughout the flight (was even too early for me to have anything stronger). I watched a couple of films to pass the time, lunch consisted of a hot chicken and olive roll (sounds worse than it tasted) and a cake.
Time to land… the captain warned of cross winds and a bumpy landing but thankfully it wasn’t anything like the 1980s airplane films and we landed without a hitch.
Anyone thinking of coming out for the championships will need to be aware that it is quite a walk from leaving the plane to security.
Walking through was enlightening, staff placed in strategic places ensuring you are ok and going in the right direction offering to carry heavy hand luggage. When I got to security, I had to pay for a visa to enter the country, again a straightforward process, go to the desk and pay with a credit or debit card. (Some countries will need to apply for visas before so please check the website www.msawc2017.com all the information is in the FAQs).
Those of you lucky enough to travel first/business class you can jump the visa queue (if you fly economy you can pay to use this at the airport), here you get to go through to the lounge where you can have refreshments before purchasing your visa and picking up your luggage. Again another easy process.
By the time I went through security the luggage was out on the carousel, a lovely young man came over and took my cases off and placed them on a trolley (and I didn’t ask). I walked through nothing to declare looking for the transfer I had arranged and there he was, my name on a board. I introduced myself, he took my luggage and chatted all the way to the car. (So far so good haven’t got lost once or left anything behind).
On entering the car, I was given a warm flannel to wipe my hands allowing me to freshen up and offered a nice cold bottle of water. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the drive into the city, coloured lights on the lampposts making the city look inviting. The skyline was lit up by various pinks, blues and greens on different buildings.
On arrival at the hotel, there is security on the door, you just have to walk through a scanner. I was given all the information I needed, went to my room, unpacked, had a quick coffee and then went out to explore.I have to say if you are coming out bring some extra money the shopping mall next to the Marriot Hotel is amazing. Whilst browsing and chatting to a local gentleman he told me there was another designer shopping mall I should visit, he told me the 30-minute bus ride would be worth it. Looks like that’s my evening taken up tomorrow. I left the mall and took a walk down to the Corniche, although it was dark there was plenty of people around and you get the usual feel of a bustling city.
I have to say if you are coming out bring some extra money the shopping mall next to the Marriot Hotel is amazing. Whilst browsing in a store I struck up a conversation with a local gentleman he explained that there was a designer shopping mall I should visit, he told me the 30-minute bus ride would be worth it. Looks like that’s my evening taken up tomorrow.
I left the mall and took a walk down to the Corniche, although it was dark there was plenty of people around and you get the usual feel of a bustling city. Here it comes, I lost my sense of direction (sorry Dave) I walked for a little further and then decided to ask for help. (Not something I usually admit to) I asked a couple of young guys firstly if they could speak English, as my Arabic isn’t great, and then if they could point me in the right direction. They insisted on walking with me, to be fair I think I scared them a little as I do like to chat. But good news, I got back to the hotel with no major catastrophes.
General comments from my first day:
Tomorrow, I have been invited to attend a local Scrabble™ tournament in a Sri Lankan school. Let’s see what the day brings…