Oh, hey guys... Sooooo, guess what? I sort of went to the Middle East a few weeks ago... Yep. Can you believe it? Can you? Really?? Because I'm still having trouble believing it!
I never ever thought in a million bajillion years that I would ever get to see that side of the planet. It just seemed like one of those things I'd never do... It was right up there with climbing Mount Everest and visiting the North Pole.
But, things change all the time and now I know that anything is possible. I've been living a real life fairytale since July and I'm loving every minute of it. Andrew is a dream come true and I'm the luckiest gal in the world.
It's taken me awhile to write about this trip because 1. I've been extremely busy at my new job, and 2. I'm still sorting through photos and videos, trying to get things ready and situated so I can share this trip successfully!
I want to first say how excited I was to fly Qatar Airways. Before I left for Qatar, I was doing the social media for a consulting firm in DC, posting Facebook updates and Tweets about news in Qatar, and often posted about Qatar Airways. They were always winning awards. Recently they were voted the best airline in the world. They're number one when it comes to flying, so it was awesome being able to see for myself all the greatness I'd been promoting these last few months.
So, my lovely roommates drove me to the airport the night of my flight and I had crazy travel butterflies flapping around non-stop in my tummybox the whole way there. I couldn't tell if I was nervous about flying international for the first time (by myself for 14 hours) or nervous about seeing Andrew since I hadn't in almost three weeks... It was probably a little of both but I was definitely excited and sooo ready to go! I couldn't believe the day had finally arrived!
After I was all checked in and had my baggage taken care of, I sat at my gate for over two hours, watching things on Netflix and texting my friends. I think I was the first person to arrive at the gate, haha. Better to be early than late I guess!
I must have stopped paying attention because those two hours flew by incredibly fast. I remember looking up from my computer and being surprised at how many people were waiting to board. The airplane was huge! I couldn't believe the amount of people all going on the same flight. I also noticed how much I stuck out in the crowd.
Since the flight to Qatar is direct from DC, a lot of people traveling to India fly with them because once they get to Doha, it's only a four hour flight from there to India.
I'd say 95% of the people on my flight were on their way to India.
Once we boarded, I was greeted by the same beautiful ladies from the ads and I was instantly pleased, haha. The plane was great and everyone was so nice. I sat next to an older Indian couple who spoke very little English. Whenever a flight attendant spoke to them, I had to sort of motion or do things for them (closing their window multiple times, collecting garbage and unused blankets, asking if they were thirsty, opening their food, etc.) since they didn't understand what was being said (which made me wonder why Qatar Airways doesn't accommodate more to the non-Arabic, non-English speaking Indian people that fly with them so often).
They were very sweet and at one point during the flight I woke up with my head nearly resting on the man's shoulder and his wife's feet were on my knee.
I learned it's nearly impossible to not get cuddly with the people around you on an international flight.
When we were getting closer, advertisements from businesses in Qatar started playing on our screens. It was awesome because I recognized a lot of the businesses. It was so cool seeing these things in real life after reading and writing about them while sitting behind a desk in DC. I think I got a little choked up... I was so excited at this point, I couldn't wait to land and finally see this place!!
You exit the plane onto the runway and then you get on a bus that makes two stops. The first stop is Arrivals for the people staying in Doha, and the 2nd stop is for people taking connecting flights. At that first stop, I think I was one of six or so people in the sardine-packed bus who got off. Everyone else was headed to India.
I couldn't believe how hot it was outside, and the sun had already set!
Purchasing my Visa was easier than I thought it would be. I was a little scared, but I figured it out and the kid working behind the desk looked four or five years younger than me and didn't really ask any questions.
I was excited to see Andrew and knew he was waiting for me, but I really had to pee, so I collected my bags and scoped out the bathrooms. I noticed they had a smoking room and female and male prayer rooms. I wanted to peek my head in the prayer room, but wasn't sure if that was okay since I didn't know how that works.
So, I found the bathrooms and had my first Middle Eastern bathroom experience.
First, I want to say how friggin' sweet the stalls were. The doors actually went all the way to the floor and there were no cracks! Each stall was like a little private room. I thought this was an exception, just being at the airport, but it wasn't. Every bathroom in Qatar was this way. I loved it! So classy. I later learned that this is very typical for most countries, though.
Apparently American stalls are unusual and janky. We suck.
After that, I finally got to see my Andrew-face!!!
I walked out into this huge room with a big glass room divider and he was on the other side of it with his cell phone, taking pictures of me and smiling so big!
We couldn't really stand there and hug and kiss and all that mushy stuff since that's generally a no-no in public, but we did a quick hug and cheek kiss and gazed happily into each other's eyes like annoyingly happy children while we walked to the car. I couldn't believe I was actually there with him! He couldn't, either. It was a lovely moment.
On the way back to the hotel, I got to hear my first Call to Prayer playing throughout the city and over the radio. It was awesome and gave me goosebumps. I think that's when it hit me that I really was in the Middle East. :)
Here's a video from a different night we were in the car when it started:
I didn't feel incredibly jet lagged my first night like I thought I would. Since I left around 11pm DC time the night before, and arrived around 6pm Doha time the next day, it sort of felt like I just had a really long night since it was dark when I left and when I arrived. I didn't feel like I missed an entire day of sunlight. There's a 7 hour time difference between DC and Qatar and it took a few days for me to start feeling strange and tired.
It was so nice being with Andrew again. I missed him so much! We drove around a little bit that night and toured the city before heading back to the hotel and getting some much needed shut-eye.
I couldn't wait to start exploring in the morning. :)
More Qatar posts to come!