We slept until 9.00 a.m. but as we had a long day ahead of us, it didn’t matter. It was so nice to be able to ring for the club car to meet us at the door and take us over to the Al Mirqab Hotel for breakfast on its terrace.
As we had enjoyed our selection from the previous day we ordered the delicious omelettes and waffles once again along with some fresh fruit, yoghurt and Arabian flatbread.
It was 11.00 a.m. by the time we returned to our own hotel and were ready to start exploring. It was an overcast morning but a pleasant 23 degrees. Our plan was to visit the Katara Cultural Village which took 25 minutes to reach by Uber. Since visiting Qatar part of the new metro system has now started operating making it possible to reach most parts of the city with ease.
The Katara Cultural Village comprises theatres, concert halls, exhibition galleries and serves to protect the history and traditions of Qatar. All aspects of the village are free of charge and our first stop was at the Arab Postal Stamps Collection, a small museum displaying a stamp collection covering 22 Arab countries.
There are two mosques in the village both extremely beautiful. The larger one is where Friday prayers are held whilst the elaborate Golden Mosque is used for regular prayers. It was not possible to look inside either of these mosques but we admired their exteriors.
Our attention was drawn to a pair of pigeon towers which are an example of traditional Islamic architecture. They were designed to collect pigeon droppings which were then used as a fertiliser for farming.
Our walk continued to Katara Beach which is said to be one of the most beautiful natural beaches in Qatar spanning over 1.5 km. The beach was deserted as it was Sunday which is a normal working day in the Middle East. Along the beach walk were some opulent beach huts and male and female prayer rooms in tent like structures. Bathing dress codes are very strict in Qatar with women not being allowed to wear regular swimsuits or bikinis although men can wear long length swim shorts. Of course, these rules do not apply around hotel pools but must be adhered to in public places.
The air was very dry with a gentle breeze and it was irritating our throats so we stopped to drink some water. We later discovered that dust levels were high in the area and this must have caused the problem. Complimentary golf buggies were on hand to transport visitors around the village so we used one of these to take us back to the taxi drop-off point to save a little time. There is still a great deal of construction taking place in the village with Katara Plaza, a large shopping mall due to open shortly so it will be nice to return sometime to view the developments.
Next on our list was a visit to The Pearl, an artificial island spanning 4km, this was too far to reach on foot so we took an Uber to the Porto Arabia district. The Pearl is divided into 12 districts referred to locally as precincts each of which has its own distinctive architectural style. After stopping for cold drinks, we strolled along La Croisette, a 2.5 km attractive pedestrianised seafront promenade lined with shops, cafes, offices and apartments.
Our stroll continued along to the Qanat Quartier which was our favourite part of the island. It is modelled after the city of Venice with gorgeous, pastel coloured low rise residences and townhouses overlooking a series of canals. These waterways are connected by stylish bridges reminiscent of the city, one being a replica of the famous Rialto bridge. Water taxis ply the canals and although these may lack the charm of an authentic Venetian gondola they undoubtedly provide a relaxing tour of the district.
Having enjoyed our afternoon stroll exploring The Pearl we took an Uber back to our hotel which cost QAR 25 (£5.20). Just as we were leaving, a pair of Arabic horses were been ridden through the souq and by coincidence we had timed our departure perfectly for a photo.
After enjoying complimentary Arabic coffee and dates we picked up our swimwear and whilst my son went for a swim in the rooftop pool I opted for a sauna in the luxurious spa.
Feeling refreshed, we set off for an evening walk around the souq. It was much busier than we had seen it previously as celebrations were taking place with Kuwait to commemorate its National Day. Flags of both countries were flying side by side and numerous events were taking place on a stage in the main square. We watched some of the locals dancing and a laser light show before deciding to find somewhere for dinner. As our meal the previous evening at the Iraqi restaurant had been so good we opted to eat there again, sitting out on the terrace watching people pass by.
There was then just enough time for a final walk around the souk (standing market) before returning to our room, packing up and checking out at 10.30 p.m. As we had booked the Discover Qatar programme we were able to take advantage of a late check-out to fit in with our flight departure at no extra charge. We had absolutely loved our two night stay at the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel and can’t wait to return. The staff were all very friendly and helpful throughout our stay and assisted us with our luggage into an Uber taxi for the 20 minute journey back to the airport QAR 24 (£5).
We checked in for our Qatar Airways overnight flight to Kuala Lumpur and then glanced in the airside shops. There were no queues at security or immigration giving us ample time for a drink in one of the cafes before proceeding to our gate.
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