Sunday, February 19, 2012

Getting Lost and Found, Doha Style

There's a lot in Qatar you just don't get right the first time. Like when you go to Paloma at the Intercontinental because it's listed in the "family dining" section of the 2-for-1 book, and they tell you your 4-year old daughter can't come in because it's officially classified a "bar." Or when you look for the mangroves in Al Khor, but keep ending up at the same disappointing beach. Or when you drive all over the country looking for one of those beautiful, free, public beaches your co-workers keep telling you about, but end up finding dirty, isolated stretches of rubble-y coastline instead.

Japan, with its oodles of detailed maps and well-marked signs, this is not. An adventurer can get somewhat stymied in the adventuring.

We haven't quite yet figured out our latest favourite get-away, MIA Park. The first time we went to explore, just Jeff and I out on a date, we drove to the wrong entrance and then got lost trying to find the roundabout to get us to the right entrance. With Doha evening traffic encroaching, and our bellies hungry for dinner, we gave up the search. The second time we went, just last week for Sports' Day, the park, as well as the entire Corniche, was crawling with scads and scads of impatient people, honking and pushing their way to parking spots. (Yes, in Qatar, cars do *push* their way...) We had to park far away and walk through more rubble and incomplete parking areas to get into the park. Even tonight, we parked in what we thought was the right spot, but ended up having to walk through horrible-smelling industrial areas just to get to our destination.

Yes, you could say Doha is very much in process. You have to embrace and accept the stinky parts to get to the beauty.

But no matter. MIA Park is so very worth it. It's new, having just opened a month or so ago, and it's adjacent to the Museum of Islamic Art (hence the MIA acronym). It has, in my humble opinion, THE finest views of the city. The museum itself, the water, the dhows, the high rises of the West Bay, and a whole lot of palm trees. The park curves beautifully into the bay, and it's lit up very nicely at night. It has a huge playground area, wide walkways by the water, and best of all, an amazing coffee shop with the best seating area I have ever seen. Okay, admittedly, I didn't actually taste the coffee yet. But the seats! The view! We'll be back, again and again.

I'm not kidding that you have to walk through an industrial area to get to the park. From the road, you'd never guess the park is even there. It's Doha Port... a shipyard, for goodness sake. And just outside the beauty of the park is the stench of I'm-not-sure-what, along with a lot of general untidyness. But just as Japan had its contrasts between the traditional and the modern, Doha has its contrast between... the breathtaking and the construction rubble? The new, clean, and beautiful and... the unfinished and stinky? Words seem to be escaping me.

Let's let the photos speak:

Dhows with the West Bay in the background

Long stretches of palm trees. Is it really February?! :)
The Museum of Islamic Art on the right

The coffee shop is just down the stretch
Monkey liked the busy busy playground
Seriously? Ahhhh... a little bit of heaven...

 And there's another attraction at the park, for a limited time only we've been told. So we checked it out tonight. Curious? Watch the videos ... and laugh ... we hope to always remain young at heart. :)

this one is of me!

Oh, and we should get it right next time. On our way out, we found the parking lot where the informed people park, past the shipyard, just outside the playground.

We learn a little every day.


Anonymous said...

Kathy,jump higher higher. Mom

Suzanne said...

That's fantastic. How fun is that contraption. Love it!

kooki said...

Love that park! The coffee is great but expensive but perhaps worth it for that view and those comfortable chairs. Park in the MIA parking near the temporary exhibition building (nilch the MIA Park parking) and you can walk across grass and sidewalks to get to the park.

gypsy said...

You have to go to the MIA entrance to park there, right? The first time we went, they wouldn't let us in. It's okay... we've got it figured out now... drive to the gate right by the playground.

Tracie said...

Kathy...I absolutely LOVE your laugh. Fun videos.