zondag 13 september 2015

Our winter bucket list: 10 things to do in Qatar

We`re finally emerging from months of dreadful weather and I can`t wait for winter in Qatar... Qatari winters are actually more like Belgian summers: with average temperatures of 25 degrees celsius and occasional rain showers it`s the best time of the year for outdoor trips. Last winter mr. Blueberry was a newborn so apart from a trip to the park and an outing to the beach (Yes, I actually went to the beach with a 5 week old...), we hardly went out. There are some exciting things to do and to see here that I haven`t been able to yet and I am really longing to head out there and discover those remaining treasures! 

Here is our winter bucket list... 

1. Zekreet 

Zekreet is located on the west coast of Qatar and apparently there`s a lot to be seen there: it has an archaeological site (Woohoo!) with a fort, a film set in which an authentic Arabian village has been replicated, a beautiful beach and an oryx reserve. The oryx is a desert animal and very much cherished in Qatar. Ever took a closer look at the logo of Qatar Airways? That`s an oryx right there! 

2. Purple Island 

Purple Island is actually one of Qatar`s greenest spots with a large mangrove forest. `It owes its name to the ancient purple dye producing site that was situated on the island, which existed thousands of years ago. The purple dye was produced from a species of sea snails. This dye itself is special in that was only used for clothes worn by the ruling classes, and the elite.` (1)  
It`s located near to Al-Khor, a small town in the north. A trip there sounds quite adventurous: to get to the island you need to wade a little through water between the mangrove trees! After being stuck inside for such a long time I definitely need some excitement! (I just have to figure out how to get Adam to the island, lol!) 

Mangroves near Al-Khor. 

3. Banana Island

After an adventurous trip it`s time to relax! Banana Island is the perfect place to do just that! It is an artificial island just a short boat trip away from Doha. It`s got hotels, restaurants, spa`s, swimming pools, ... It`s more of a holiday resort, but if you make a reservation you can head out there for a day trip. The island welcomed its first guests last year and it`s nothing short of a wellness paradise. Want to take a look? You can here

4. Aquapark 

I`ve been wanting to go to Aquapark Qatar since... Forever! But 3 things were working against my plans of heading out there: I didn`t have a burkini, Ladies Day is every Tuesday (When my husband is out working which leaves me without a car.) and apparently they close for winter... I even read a couple of days ago that their last Ladies Day of the season is this week! This week?! The logic of their opening times is really beyond me, but I still hope to head out there soon... 

5. Shahaniyyah - Camel races 

At Shahaniyyah there is an actual camel race track! I can`t wait to take Adam there for a good old Arabian camel race! 

6. Dhow trip 

Dhows near the Corniche. 

A *dhow* is an authentic wooden Qatari fishing boat. Travel agencies organize dhow tours and it`s one of those typical touristic things here that I haven`t done yet. I`ve also been told that if you`re lucky, you might actually spot some dolphins out at sea... Seriously, folks, Qatar has dolphins! 

7. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum 

I heard about this museum before, but it wasn`t until I read last month`s *Time Out Doha* that I discovered it`s really worth a visit! 

Time Out Doha about the museum.

It`s basically a collection of historical and cultural artifacts of Sheikh Faisal himself, but there`s a lot on Qatari culture and heritage and that`s what I`m most interested in! The longer I live here the more my fascination for Qatari culture grows so I`m really eager to learn more about it!

8. Al Wakrah Park 

Al Wakrah is a little fishing town right outside of Doha, but it`s not that far from us. We`re basically living on the way from Doha to Wakrah and I`ve been there regularly for both the souq and the beach. Some of my friends also used to live there, so I am quite fond of the place. I recently discovered that Wakrah also has a park and I hear it`s really family friendly and close to the sea/beach, yay!

9. Falcon Souq 

I`ve been to Souq Waqif many times before, but what I didn`t know is that there`s a Falcon Souq nearby! As the falcon is the number one Qatari pet, I`ld like to check out the stores with falconry equipment and of course the actual falcons... 

10. Al Thakira beach 

We love to go to the beach in the winter and BBQ. You can mostly find us at Al Wakrah Family Beach or at Semeisma beach, but this winter I want to head a little more north and discover a new beach. Qatar has a very long coastline and has many beaches, so why particularly this one? Well, apparently there`s a lot of bird life going on there and you can spot flamingo`s... The only time I saw flamingo`s was in a Belgian zoo, so seeing them in real life, *in the wild*, seems like enough reason to head out there! 

Wow, it`s going to be a busy winter! :-D 


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