Category Archives: Qatar

Qatar and South Africa arrival (QA/SA)

Doha airport in Qatar seemed pretty well organized, yet inefficient. To get to and from the plane to the terminal you have to take shuttle buses and they appear to be driving all around the entire huge airport every time. There is a terminal for arrivals and a separate one for transfers. You get a color coded boarding pass wallet but the principle is also explained no less than 17 times in two languages via intercom. Pretty much everyone had a connecting flight so we all got off at the next terminal (12 more announcements), went through security again and ended up on yet another shuttle bus back around the entire airport only to get on the plane right next to the one we just left…
We boarded from the back without groups which proved to be chaotic as well. But Qatar Airlines as such was great and the flights went by fast.

I arrived at 9am local time in Johannesburg. It’s 76 degrees here, blue sky, and everything is green. I am instantly in a better mood. The newly renovated airport is modern and plays good tunes over the speaker system, unusual but fitting. Not one slimy cab or limousine driver crossed my path. I always thought that all airports around the world had that in common. I arranged for a free hotel pickup (screw the roaming charges) and Thomas, the hotel receptionist and driver showed up quickly. The hotel is 10km from the airport but 30 minutes outside of Johannesburg, and it is beautiful. I decided to chill on my first day and this place is perfect for it. Right now I’m in a hammock, occasionally flirting with some ostriches nearby. There are other animals as well, guinea fowl, springboks and geese. I also have my first dog friend – Nibbles…a mix of some kind with wiry hair and incredibly bad breath. once you’ve pet him he will keep pawing you for more. There are 7 dogs on the fenced in area next door and all of them wanted to say hi to me. There has got to be a job for me I can use this skill for…

I met one of my tourmates already. She’s from England and this first leg of my trip is her last leg after traveling through the US, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia for 6 months. She says she’s not ready to go home yet although living out of a backpack for months can have so many ups and downs.
I also know Thomas’s lifestory now. He gave me a lift to the gas station where the ATM is and we ended up driving to the airport again to pick up a Dutch couple who was living in Johannesburg 36 years ago. Thomas is from Zimbabwe but after he lost his job at the Sheraton in Harare he had to come here for work. His wife and two kids are still in Zimbabwe and can’t get visas to join him. He sees them every two years as it is too expensive for him to travel back. When he does he takes a bus that needs 12 hours and is cheaper than the 2 hour flight which would cost him $220 roundtrip.

Thomas said that when last year’s World Cup tickets were first available nobody wanted them here. It took a while to build some momentum for them. For South Africans the tickets went for $18 – the foreigners paid $80. Pretty quickly though they were no longer available for the locals.

It is now 6pm and I’ve been to a shop to buy some fruit and veggies, I’ve booked a city tour for tomorrow and I’ve taken a dip in the pool (the ostriches were all watching, perverts). I can see a minor tan on my left arm and I’ve already showered twice because of sun lotion and pool water. I discovered small bottles of champagne in a vending machine (!) and I think I may have scared off a young geeky guy who is on my trip. Tonight is going to be a quiet night. I am no longer tired but I’m sure I will sleep well in one of my queen sized beds in the ginormous room that was given to me for some reason.

Doha airport (QA)

Wow, a cool brand new airport it seems, but you must take a transfer bus everywhere. They announce the correct terminal 12 times in English and Arabic while you pass desert and fancy Middle Eastern looking buildings (it’s dark, I can’t tell what they are) and you can see an impressive skyline.

9 more hours…