Warsaw said goodbye with heavy rain, which made us really look forward to pleasant 29 °C in Doha. After an uneventful flight crossing the red sea and the middle east we arrived in Doha around 7 pm. Since our luggage was stowed for transfer we were free to explore, and after finding out how to leave the departure terminal we took the short bus ride to the arrival terminal. Our idea was to take a cab into the city to see it at night and stay at the ocean to watch the sunrise, then return to the airport and sleep in the quiet zone recommended in the reviews at sleepinginairports.com, which promised reclining chairs and blankets. The flight to Bangkok was to leave at 1:30 pm, so we had plenty of time.

First thing at arrival we asked a very helpful Indian guy at the information about taking a cab into town, which area to go to and asked about the rest areas. He tried to be helpful, but didn’t really get our plan, that we didn’t have a hotel and wanted to stay outside and spend the night there…maybe the idea was a bit too exotic. But he recommended a shopping mall, the Doha City Center, as a location to enjoy the skyline at night.

Passing through immigration looked like a long wait, but after about 10 minutes we got lucky, as all women in the cues were allowed to pass at an extra counter were only women with children and elder people had been served before. Apparently people in Katar are very considerate. We payed the 100 Rial for the stamp in the passport and quickly went outside to ask for the price of the ride and get some cash. Soon our cab was speeding along the coastal line towards the movie-like skyline of Doha against the desert and some palm trees. There was a seaside walk along the shore, and we already looked forward to going there, enjoying a fresh breeze and the sea. But first, City Center mall. The ride went past some amazing skyscrapers, each trying to outdo the others in innovation and uniqueness. The mall itself was huge, with posh stores and an ice rink – and a Carrefour supermarket, where we grabbed some yoghurt and refreshing lemonade for dinner, and felt like queens of the mall. We walked around a bit more, taking in the atmosphere. It was a weird feeling, seeing the traditionally dressed men in white gowns and women in black gowns, populating all the European shops that one finds in a regular shopping mall. People seemed to be very relaxed, men often walking around or standing in small groups talking, giving a very communicative and friendly impression. I would have loved to get into a conversation with some of them, but felt too tired – maybe some other time.

One quick dinner of Thai noodle soup later we were ready to head for the seaside, but outside of the mall we got stopped by a guy who asked where we were going, and upon our answer said he would not advise it, as it was not safe for two women to walk about the streets on their own, there were some really weird guys out there. After a quick discussion Anne and I decided -quite heavy-hearted- to skip walking around downtown and going to the seaside, and instead take a cab back to the airport. We would have loved to stop for a quick view of the skyline from the seaside, but we didn’t have an idea how to get another cab for the rest of the ride. This was one of the situations where it plain sucks to be a woman – I usually am not that easily scared off, but this being the start of our travel and me knowing very little abut Katar made it seem wiser to forego the experience. What do you think, any instances you remember when being a girl was just plain unfair?

Back at the airport at the departure terminal, we searched and after a while found the quiet zone, as promised with reclining chairs. There were ample free seats (surprising, as the airport was full of people sleeping in the waiting areas), so we picked two facing each other and settled for the night. Now my travel towel came in really handy, it makes for a pretty warm blanket. Unfortunately the quiet zone was not quiet at all, and the reclining chairs turned out to be very uncomfortable – it was just not possible for me to find a position that did not lead to an aching back or blood being drained from my arms or legs. Hugging my backpack with my camera, I had an uneasy 6 hours of half sleep. Anne wasn’t better off, judging from her slightly yogaeske positions for sleeping I figured she also had trouble with blood circulation. Around 6:30 am local time I got up, not sleepy enough anymore to continue trying to sleep. I went to bush my teeth and get some water on my face to feel human again. Afterwards I went for coffee with Karol, the irish guy who had been sleeping next to me and had asked me to set an alarm for him. We had a good talk – I love meeting people when I’m traveling, it often makes for really interesting conversations, it is so amazing how different kinds of lives people do lead. Later I picked up Anne for breakfast and to make something good of the rest of our time at Doha airport. We had a great coffee, checked out the duty free shops and went looking for a power outlet for my laptop, so I could charge my laptop and make use of the free WiFi (a luxury, as I was to find out later). Time went by quickly, and soon our flight to Bangkok was called. Overall I enjoyed the visit to Doha, and also staying in the airport was quite ok. How about you, anyone with experiences sleeping at Doha airport?