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Archive for December 2017

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When we landed in Doha last year, things started to take off- We were on a different plane.

A masterpiece of spirited adventure can be captured in this iconic image of  the invincible Land Rover--- Day Trip  to an Archaeological Site  


The name itself , Land Rover, overtly reflects and recognizes the quintessential  zeitgeist of British indomitability.  That  basic and hardy expression of  simplicity is the key to the vehicles longevity and ours. It goes where roads and maps don't. It survives where other cars can't. 

The austere feeling- of -every -bump- or -jolt in the road,  however, was a far cry from the privileged life of excess and access Sarah, Pam and I enjoyed, glamping around the globe this year; especially in Doha, our home base that served more as an aircraft carrier where we could fly off  on a whim on "missions" to Cape Town, Dubai, the East Coast of America including Oyster Bay, Long Island , the southern half of Britain---- and our favorite place, we refer to as Headquarters, Arundel,which remains a continual source of inspiration and renewal. 

The hotels we stayed at we literally "inhabited"  as they  provided a level of service  matched only by our accustomed standards of excellence onboard Crystal and Cunard.  So, we did a bit of gentrified sailing--- crossing the Atlantic onboard the world's last oceanliner, Queen Mary2 on our  NY to SOTON  voyage. Margaret, Pam's good friend, got voluntold she was joining us and added immense value to the novelty.

We needed a city center for our urban life in our host country of Qatar. The Shangra-La  hotel was our first stop in Doha and it was luxurious but not in a"blingy"way.  The Ritz Carlton and The Mondrain  were impressive day trips but  a bit over the top.   We finally  settled into  a quotidian lifestyle of restaurants--Quick Bites and Cuchina along with  gym access at The Marriott Marquis, in West Bay. The doorman, Goodluck (yes that's  his name) greeted us each day. Grant, The head Chef cooked for us. Osama  ran the health and fitness club and pool area. Amenities alone were not enough. We surround ourselves with new and interesting people with everyday epiphanies and  occasional serendipity.

We made the daily 15 minute commute where we lived at  The Pearl, an artifical island of  over 32 kilometres but we worked it out mid rental agreement,  that it would have cost us $12 a day cheaper if we checked in at The Marriott Residences. The  food, would be included too. 

This was one of those "hashtag first-world problems"--living at The Pearl a beautiful residence but more like a movie set- Lights, Camera Doha! 

We leave  this "Earth on Mars"  happy accidental city, that could be imagined anywhere  but  was created  here in the bare desert.  

We leave  in two days. I'm reminded of that Arnold Schwarzenegger line in the movie Terminator "I'll be back".

Here is a trip report with links to videos, photos and impressions of  our last 365 days:

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The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the main mosque in the Sultanate of Oman. It is in the capital city of Muscat. I am glad I was able to pay a visit to this magnificent building that dominates the Muscat skyline. The dome and the main minaret are the sites chief visual features. So are the varied gardens--- including these happy marigolds.

 The chandelier above the praying hall, 14 meters tall,  is bellissimo; made in Italy by Faustig. It is the worlds largest chandelier.

The prayer carpet  covers the floor of the prayer hall. It contains, 1,700,000,000 knots, weighs 21 tonnes and took four years to produce, and brings together the classical Persian Tabriz, Kashan and Isfahan design traditions. 28 colors in varying shades were used, the majority obtained from traditional vegetable dyes.

 It is the second largest single piece carpet in the world. This hand-woven carpet was produced by Iran Carpet Company (ICC) at the order of the Diwan of the Royal Court of Sultanate. The carpet measures over 70 × 60 meters, and covers the 4,343 square meter area of the praying hall.

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The Qatar National Day marks the largest national march in the history of Qatar to commemorate the National Day today,  December 18th. Apache, F 15-QA and French Rafale made passes along the main grandstand corniche.

The holiday gives a sense of national identity among locals and expats and gives an appreciation of Qatar's heritage, tradition and vision for the future.

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The celebration leading up to the Qatar National Day on December 18th, kicked off  this weekend  at Darb El Saai. Here is complimentary ticket to cool with complementary  mojo on take off: Demonstrating the benign Classroom and Simulator training on Boeing's AH-64 Apache Helicopter and F-16QA Fighting Falcon. This leads to the Live Action Follow-On training  in The United States.

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