New Experiences

MIAOriginal Post: March 30, 2015

Last night at dinner I was reminded of just how unrealistic my lifestyle is here in Doha. As my friend and I dined at one of the new restaurants, El Faro, at the brand new five star Marsa Malaz Kempinski, I was asked about my lifestyle back home. I never had the means or opportunity to take lavish vacations, routinely dine in fine restaurants, or spend half the day being pampered at the spa. I’m sitting on my sofa now over-looking the city from the tallest building in the country. I say all this, not to brag, but as a reality check for myself. As I reflect on the conversation over last night’s meal, this lifestyle is truly unreal. I am beyond blessed by this opportunity and hope that my appreciation is reflected in my blog. I do still have packs of ramen noodles and eat in the cafeteria at work…like a normal person.

Now that I’ve gotten my little reflection out of the way, let me tell you what I’ve been up to. I attended a world gymnastics competition this week. I am still amazed at the venues in this country. This was my first time at the Aspire Zone Dome and the facilities are impressive. I was at the event early enough to watch many of the gymnast practice. I saw some ridiculous athleticism; from 10 minute hand stands to crunches that defied reality. The physiques of these athletes were unbelievable. I’ve always love watching gymnastics on television but seeing it in person and seeing them practice gave me a whole new appreciation for the sport.

As I’d stated in my FB post, the first competition was the men’s floor exercise. The American gave an excellent performance and took home the gold medal. It really was emotional to see our flag raised and to see the Americans in the crowd stand during the national anthem. It warmed my heart.

The Qatar International Food Festival was quite interesting. The tents/booths were really nice. I’ve been to many food festivals and haven’t seen a display quite like this one. There were full-blown restaurants set up and some had rooftop seating. They offered live cooking class/shows by chefs. Then there was the dining in the sky. I initially wanted to experience that but after realizing it was a large table with roller-coaster style seats strapping you in, and then you’d be hoisted into the air by a construction crane, I changed my mind. The festival itself, missed the mark. Ideally, these events offer small samples of a restaurant’s menu so attendees can get a good feel of the different cuisines. Here, however, each booth sold full meals. I was highly disappointed because I’d really planned to eat a lot of different foods. Instead, I had over-sauced pad Thai and a cheeseburger from Shake Shack. Shake Shack didn’t even have ice cream L. Other than the disappointment in the food, it was a beautiful night in Doha. The weather was perfect and hanging out near the waterfront surrounded by beautiful architecture is always a plus.

I have to go back and tell you about the dining experience at El Faro. It’s a Spanish restaurant with the coolest décor. There’s exposed brick with graffiti and some antique kitchenware and amazing artwork throughout. I suppose I’d never eaten at a Spanish restaurant before so I was surprised by the meal. I ordered oxtail stew with whipped potatoes and a vegetable medley. My friend had chicken stew, which was more like whole pieces of chicken sitting on top of a thick sauce. We both agreed that the food was more comfort food. I felt as if I were at some fancy southern kitchen eating soul food. It was good food and it was a pleasant surprise.

So that’s all I have for now. You’ll get to hear about my first Doha visitor in my next blog! And I haven’t forgotten to tell you about my upcoming trips…I promise I’ll share soon.

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