Wow! It’s been an incredible couple of weeks. After wrapping things up in California, my son met me at LAX and we began our journey back to Doha. We arrived to LAX with several hours to go before our flight left so I introduced Jaden to airport lounges. We had a great time hanging out in the KLM Lounge with food and drinks. He thought it was pretty cool. Our flight from LAX to Frankfurt was more than 11 hours and we had the pleasure of sitting in front of a man who sawed logs for 10 of those 11 hours. It was an impressive snore fest and I felt really bad for the woman sitting next to him. But overall it was a great flight and it was Jaden’s introduction to the airbus 380 with 2nd floor seating. Flying Lufthansa is actually an enjoyable experience and I’ve learned that there seems to be a little more leg room on the 2nd floor in economy.
I tried not to stress over the fact that our layover in Frankfurt was only 1 hour. I’ve flown through that airport a number of times and I couldn’t imagine rushing to the next gate after going through passport control and security. Luckily, we made our connection just in time for boarding. The flight from Frankfurt to Doha was pretty empty so we got to stretch out and take advantage of the empty rows. So that 6.5 hours from Frankfurt to Doha was pretty good.
When we landed in Doha, Jaden was pretty impressed with the Hamad International Airport. It is pretty impressive for first timers. I remember my first impression of the place, I thought “WOW!” They have truly done a great job with that airport.
We were met at the airport by my regular driver and Jaden had the opportunity to immediately see a huge difference between the US and Qatar. Before leaving the grounds of the airport, I realized my purse didn’t make it into the car. We made a big loop and headed back to the loading area. It probably took 5 good minutes to get back to the spot. I was in a slight panic because not only was all my money & credit cards in there but so was my passport which I don’t normally put in my purse. I got out of the car to find a security person and found that 5 of them were surrounding the cart with my purse sitting there. I happily thanked them for keeping an eye on it and hopped back into the car. I’m 99% certain that would not have been the same story in the US. I was very grateful!
From there we headed to my residence at one of the local hotel/residences. When we arrived, Jaden was speechless. We walked into my apartment and he made me keep the lights off so he could admire the view of the city from the 49th floor. I chuckled at the the fact that we are a lot alike. He really does appreciate many things that I appreciate.
We spent the next several days getting over our jet lag. He actually stayed awake the entire first night. That was truly a mistake on his part but he didn’t realize that until a couple of days later. I cooked a couple of nights. It was good to have a home cooked meal with the kid. I do miss that.
Wednesday night we journeyed out to the City Center mall. The goal was to pick up a few groceries which we did. He didn’t have much to say about that experience other than the weirdness of pushing a grocery cart around the mall.
Thursday we had the pleasure of joining some of my colleagues at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center where the theater was rented out. We watched Big Hero 6. It was such a great movie. It’s a bit of a tear jerker for an animated film but it was great. This was his first exposure to some of the local cuisine as well as to people from all over the world. Jaden loves the different accents. I have to remind him that he also has an accent to other people but he swears the UK or Australian accents are way cooler than any American accent.
After the movie, I took him to the Souq Waqif and the Museum of Islamic Art. The souq was fun. We stopped in the Turkish restaurant and had hummus and calamari. It is where Jaden had his inaugural glass of mint lemonade. It was a winner!
We wandered into one of the shops that sells Beats. The last time I bought something from there I took it home and the speaker no longer said “Beats” it said “eats” and it would never turn on. So I always give the sales guy a hard time about their Beats products… all in good fun. I did buy Jaden a pair of sun glasses though. Hopefully they won’t fall apart.
From there we went to one of the jewelry stores I usually go into. Ahmed, the very nice Arabic gentleman who is always there greeted us and offered us tea. We spent the next half hour with him having tea and just chatting. I finally bought something out of the shop (I hadn’t before). I bought Jadena wooden box and Ahmed wrote Jaden’s name in Arabic inside the box. We thought that was pretty cool.
From the short time spent out that evening, Jaden’s observation was that the people here are so nice. He was truly blown away by it. I’m so glad that he picked up on this right away. A stark difference from what he’s used to per his report.
After the souq, we spent an hour and a half at the Musem of Islamic Art. They are open late night due to Ramadan. It was fascinating to be there so late at night (we left close to midnight). There were only a few people there and Jaden had a chance to get some great photos of the building since it was so empty. @MikeBurton, I thought about you when Jaden & I passed the huge rug! It was a good experience.
Tonight we went to a going away party for another colleague who is moving back to Canada. Jaden got to meet some kids his age from the UK and he thought they were pretty cool. He also enjoyed more local cuisine which was very good.
So far, things are going well. He’s enjoying himself and we’re looking forward to our trip to Budapest next week.
I thought I was over the jet lag but I was up from 0300-0800 this morning. Needless to say, I slept until 4:15pm! Even then I didn’t want to get up but I did. I’m glad I did because it was good to go socialize with my colleagues!
Well, I’m certainly living life these days and it is good!