These words were uttered by the barman at the Doha Business Class Lounge- and of course madam was only too happy to drink champagne, instead of sparkling wine! The lounge was enormous and offered fabulous food and drink. We spent our time like Ancient Romans lying on the couches and showering ( and eating and drinking) ..probably the Ancient Romans were not that into showering after a long flight or a bit of conquering. Just saying.
But it was not without some dramas. Initially we were going to spend our 20 hours visiting Doha which we had to have a visa for… Ahh!!.. but dear traveller, you could not get a visa before 30 days of travel.We had been travelling for months, so I had to apply with my trusty ipad 30 days before, on this antiquated application system embedded into Qatar Air. Surprise , surprise it would not accept my highly attractive passport photo-the one that makes me look like and escaped mental patient out on an evening spree. I travel with my ipad only. Well there I was half way through this cumbersome application and there was no way I could minimize the photo on their system.I am sure all you computer nerds could do it, but I was unable to progress…so no visa for Doha.
I am posting totally random photos in this post of our trip as photos of the Doha Airport are not that riveting.
Sagrada Familia Barcelona
Then I foolishly thought I will contact them…uh-uh…you can not contact them. They never answered the phone in Madrid( the only office in Spain) and never, never replied to the emails. They just sent me these standard replies..”Thank you for your email. ” “Our staff are processing this” Liar Liar, pants on fire! This was from the customer service department, or Lack of Customer Service as I like to call it. Weeks went by and still no response.Then I sent a fax, -no reply-and the day before we left Barcelona mysteriously our visas were granted.
Girona-the Jewish Quarter
Our first flight from Barcelona to Doha was held up by hours because (and I find this hard to believe) the ground staff had lost the paperwork! Things were not looking good. Their partners are Sri-Lankan Air and I think we were on that section. They took to poking us to feed us on the 6 hour journey, just as we had gotten to sleep. We arrived in Doha super jet-lagged and disorientated from the poking.
Then we had to clear security to GET OFF the plane, as obviously everyone had found a bomb on board. The full catastrophe..belts and shoes off and my knees that go BING had to be checked. We stumbled into the Business Class Lounge and then foolishly thought we would use our hard earned visas to check out Doha. There was 3 hour bus tour that sounded fantastic, which was booked out at 7.00 am!! But Hey you can catch a bus to the Souk instead. Through security yet again.
Poblenou Beach full moon
Then we were blasted by the super hot temperatures.. I thought I was on Mars and after 5 minutes ( sweating profusely and swaying in the heat, mixed with jetlag) of waiting for the bus that might arrive in the next hour, we decided to call it quits and crawled back into the safety and air-conditioned comfort of the lounge. Joy of Joys..through security yet again.
Feeling a bit miffed by this stage. I was hoping they would have offered me a camel or a diamond by now, for all the inconvenience. I forgot to add that after our visa kerfuffle I was sent copious apologies, – and I WAS expecting a camel as an act of good faith. Nothing- we couldn’t even get on the bus tour! Then I discovered afterwards they offer free hotel accommodation to entice the tourists in! We did not get such an offer.
Bussaco Palace..OMG is the spelling correct?
However the Business Class Lounge made up for the disappointment. We found the ‘quiet area’ where there were rooms with lounges, showers and food..did I mention champagne..
To summarise the trip..and I would really like to hear other seniors opinions. so please comment.
- Driving was a huge hassle-as Australian seniors, we did not understand the tolls and it was very expensive when you added everything up. (tolls, GPS and insurance) Some of the narrow tiny lanes in the villages were almost impossible to navigate -It was far cheaper and stress free to use public transport which was very good in Portugal: and then there is Senior’s Discount which is 50%! I did hear some horror stories about the French Railways.
- Portugal is still cheaper than Spain, but prices are going up rapidly.
- Avoid major capital cities unless you like navigating large groups of European Bogans on their pensioner bus trips.
- AIRBNB is no longer the cheapest accommodation now they are adding all their extra fees.
- Favourite places..well Monsanto was up there as well as Bussaco Palace, Afurada the fishing village and the Stroganov Hotel and the dolmen in the middle of no-where…loved that dolmen…
- How does one ring Australia when using a local sim on a mobile and staying in an Airbnb with no landline phone? In particular a 24 hour secure bank or insurance number? I could not do it on skype or messenger on my ipad. I have since been informed that the Australia Post has a viable and good option.
- The crowds on the move are becoming horrendous and taking the pleasure away from travel. In the early 70’s it was just the adventurous hippy types and the very rich who travelled and now everyone is doing it. Cruise ships disgorge 1, 000’s at each destination, sometimes 3-4 ships at one time. It does not cost much for retired Europeans to take a bus tour to other parts of Europe , and they do.
The big burning question..is where to go next??Asia does not really appeal but I like to escape Australia in our winter..Any ideas?