Souq Waqif

The main market. If you’ve seen a shuk (market) in Israel or any other Arab country: well it’s nothing like that.

However, if you’ve been to EPCOT then you have a pretty good idea what this is, just larger: everything is brand new but built to look a bit old. It’s all giant fancy stores, boutiques, art dealerships, and restaurants. It’s very nice though. The day we went it was still empty – like everything – but that’s because the Brazilians were just about to arrive.

Dhow Boat

Little wooden boats that were historically used in Qatar for pearl fishing. In our case, it was a two hour trip for seeing yachts owed by monarchs and eat really good food.

Like with most other things in here so far, there were more workers than tourists and no beer. But the food was excellent and it was a really nice and relaxing experience.

Dhow boats

Mexico vs Poland

A 0-0 tie in which Mexico was better and deserved to win. This is a terrible result when combined with Argentina’s loss to Saudi Arabia.

The match was held at the 974 Stadium, built using 974 shipping containers and will allegedly be disassembled and reassembled in another country. Mark my words: it won’t happen. It’s a very nice stadium though.

National Anthems before the match
Memo Ochoa stops a penalty kick by Robert Lawansowski and the crowd goes wild

Netherlands vs Senegal

Fresh(er) after a quick nap, we headed out to Al Thumama Stadium to watch Netherlands vs Senegal and then USA vs Wales. If this sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Originally we had plenty of time between both games but things got rescheduled after we purchased the tickets leaving us very little time to go from one game to the next.

This was a good match. Unlike past World Cups where I’ve seen Netherlands play, there were few Clockwork Orange fans and they were oddly subdued. There were lots of Mexican fans though. In a sad twist of irony, we had to leave a bit early while the score was 0-0 so we can catch the USA vs Wales game.

Netherlands won 2-0. 🤷

¡Nos vamos al Mundial!

It was a rough first day.

My flights were: AUS-DFW, DFW-LHR, LHR-DOH.

American Airlines was quick to mess with my plans by delaying the AUS-DFW flight. But only 10 minutes at a time so that I can’t look for alternatives before missing a connection. I made it to the gate of my connecting flight 3 minutes after it closed.

The saddest photo.

I was instead forced to stay the night in Dallas (not the airline’s fault of course, so hotel’s on me) and put on a flight that lands me in Doha with barely enough time to get to my first match with suitcase and all.

Thankfully, I went to the airport early and straight to beg to a really nice AA lady, using my best sad kitten eyes face 🥹. She got me on an earlier flight direct to Doha! That gave me enough time to go to the apartment, shower, eat, nap, then to the two matches! Sure, it was a middle seat all the way to the back in a 15 hour flight. But I was going to make it! No complaints.

Left to right: Marcos, very nice Qatar Airways flight attendant, and Fred – former player for San Jose Earthquakes and Bora’s close friend with the best soccer stories.

I was impressed at the big and modern airport. And most impressed at the speed and efficiency of immigration. Wow! Will everything in Qatar be this fast and efficient? (Narrator: no, it won’t).

The apartment we got is in a small building that is definitely not new in some random Doha neighborhood. It absolutely demolished my expectations though. It is simple with no luxury, but perfect: Large, comfortable, newly renovated. Two bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, kitchen, fridge, washing machine, TV. Everything looks fairly new. AC works like a champ. There’s several places to eat and buy groceries around it that are quite cheap. Everyone speaks serviceable English – probably better than Arabic.

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