Monday, February 23, 2015

Museum of Islamic Art

I can hardly sit still I am so excited that we are just days away from moving into our brand new apartment. I am just as excited that you guys like and support our decision, now all you have to do is come visit us at it :)

This weekend we got an invitation from the HR side of Zach's work to go to an impromptu dinner at the rooftop Tarrace at the Al Gassar Resort, ironically the "resort" we almost chose to live in! Even more ironic we received a second invitation from a coworker of Zachs to meet at the exact same place for dinner-- yes two dinners within two sectors of the same company at the same rooftop Tarrace on the same night.  Can you say awkward?! 

We went ahead with the first invitation and it actually turned out to be treat because we were able to spend time with both.  Even better, we rode to the whole thing with Zach's co worker Firoz and his wife Myriam (a couple from Lebanon that we have begun to spark a friendship with). 

(Here they are talking with Zach) 
It was an absolutely perfect night right at about 75 degrees with a slight, cool breeze from the elevation. Yes, a cool breeze in the desert, we were just as surprised. 
Most interesting if all was that there was alcohol?! Upon stepping off of that Emirates Air Bus I had officially kissed alcohol goodbye. Turns out I kissed too soon and it is actually fairly widely available here if you know where to go. There are ways to get alcohol permits and buy it legally for home use (if your home is in certain buildings) but even easier than that is getting it from s hotel like this one. Hotels have the unique privilege of serving alcohol first hand and it all became clear why all parties wanted to be at a hotel restaurant. 
The younger crowd (dinner invitation  #2) even went a step further and brought these Jell-O shots! I have never even had Pinterest worthy orange slice Jell-O shots like these in all of years of college and here I am having them in the alcohol forbidden land. What? 

As we spoke with the Qatari natives-- okay not totally native ( I don't think I have met a single one of those?!) but more native than us, we talked of all of the must see things in Qatar. When they mentioned the Museum of Islamic Art they said to go, order a nice coffee and relax on the couches by the window  and soak it in before you go to explore the museum. So of course we nodded and noted it in our mental checklist of things to eventually do. 
Then she mentioned that entry was FREE of charge. 
We decided at that point to go the next morning. :) 

Haha whoops! Did our frugality show? ...embarrassing.. 

Only not! We were pumped and ready to go! 

Side note: everything that we had read before coming told us that Doha is simply not a walkable city but that is completely FALSE. Side walks line every road and the city is layed out in a way in which it is easy to walk from one side to the other.  ( during the winter that is! ) 
So we did! It was only about a half hour beautiful stroll from our hotel.
AND you get to pass this! And the Souq! 
Soon we could see it and it's totally iconic shape. 
I never really thought the architecture of the Museum of Islamic Art was too special (especially compared to West Bay) but OH MY WORD just wait until you see inside! My mind has TOALLY been changed! 

Then omg walking up was HILARIOUS. First you go through these gates and up this massively long drive way completely lined with palm trees and a fountain of sorts running through the middle. At the top before entering you can lookout to the left and see West Bay then to the right and see acres of green grass. We sat on a ledge and looked across soaking in the beautiful of the city and fantasising of returning to this place to throw the football or play soccer. THEN out of no where a young guy came up to us holding out his phone. He didn't  speak a touch of English so we were all !?uhhh!!? And he was all lkdsjfhvlkjbkljdzfj,kgefer,kinsfokn so we kind of awkwardly got up thinking he wanted us to take a picture of him and his friends in front of the museum but he shook his head, that was wrong. He wanted a photo alright but he wanted it WITH ZACH!! Hahahahahaha omg it was so funny! I wish that I had captured the look on Zach's face at that moment. 
It may have been how tall he is...or the fact that we are American? Even the light skin we have heard is very well liked here. Whatever it was we may never know but I did manage to snap a shot on my own phone. 
What I didn't capture though were the moments after this, all of their friends came ( at least 4 more guys) and all crowded around to get a photo with Zach.  It was so funny and so odd. What a way to start a trip to the museum!

So they scattered and we decided we better go ahead in!
Whoa! Who would have expected that kind of entrance? 
Beautiful metal work hanging above the door. 

Then we went through a quick security scan and ... 


You walk in underneath a giant split stairway then it opens up to at least six story high ceilings and a window all across the back wall spanning from floor to ceiling with a breathtaking view of the West Bay skyline.

(View from above) 

My jaw                It is absolutely just one of those things you have to see in person. 

Once we regained composure we did as we were told and grabbed a snack to sit on a couch with a soak it in. You really need this time when traveling to the museum because it's magnitude will take your breath  away.

Funny side note - 
Noticed that on my can of Coke instead of saying "calories" it says "energy"   
Nice twist there Coke 
That reminds me of this other funny twist Coke pulled in an ad I saw on the street the other day .. 
"Sleeker and taller...the look everyone wants." Haha
HEY! Maybe that is why they wanted a photo with Zach! He is sleek and tall... Just me? Okay. 

So anyways we finished our snack and started exploring.
This museum has three viewable floors ( others closed off for who knows what) and the worlds largest collection of Islamic artifacts. 
The way it is set up is different than what I have seen before. You move through very dimly lit rooms with what seemed like a mixture of different pieces in each(mixture of time frames, origins and styles). The artifacts were cool to see but even beyond them (I know it is so terrible I moved right past the artifacts) the displays were gorgeous. They would have for example a huge five foot tall and one foot wide glass case with a tiny tiny maybe only inch tall jewelry box inside. It was amazing how the display itself would add so much prestige and grandeur to such a tiny little item. 
Every display has this effect and every display was different. Some rooms had two story ceilings with giant rugs on the wall others pillars glowing from below. Even full out chainmail armore on a chainmail ladened horse. 
We finished our visit with a step outside onto an open patio. Fountains all around and huge arches with a perfect view of West Bay behind. 
We soaked it all in.

I was just in awe. Beautiful artifacts, beautiful display and beautiful architecture. It was all art.  

"Art is the last from of magic that exists."

Thankful today for time to slow down and simmer in the moment. 
Thankful for a best friend that I call husband to simmer with me. 

Shokran & Gig 'Em 

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Apartment Selection!

And now!

For the moment you all have been waiting for 


Okay so it's definitely not THAT big of a deal but it is pretty exciting to have found an actual HOME here! ( especially since it looks as though we will be staying until Z finishes his project on Red Line North in 2018, three years from now!) 


....drumroll please .....



And now I know what most of you are thinking... What the heck?! Why didn't they choose number two and live on a resort? But don't worry, I can explain! 

First of all, LOCATION IS KEY! 

At this apartment when we walk outside, we are right in the thick of it! Across the street is the huge City Center Mall with everything from the grocery store to a furniture store and all of the clothing and food options a girl could want in between. 

It also ( as you can expect) has tons of taxis lining up all day long to pick people up and since we do not intend to get a car here, this works out perfectly for us! Not only that but one of Zach's new coworkers lives right down the road and has offered to grab Z on his way to work each morning so that is a blessing on top of everything! 

Even beyond the excitement, shopping and transportation, we are just a five minute walk away from the gulf and the long Corniche path along it. From this location we are so central to Doha that no matter where we want to go, we are about a 15 min drive away. 
Seriously, Doha is so pretty you guys   
And look at these hundreds of birds! What? Haha they all love to hang out in this one spot on the Corniche -- I love it there and think it is so interesting and fun but Z hates it because he swears we are moments away from getting pooped in when we go by lol 

From the resort you walk outside and there is nothing. It is totally closed off and you basically have to call a taxi in order to get one-- no people around, no where to go and walk to. Even the grocery store is a drive away and getting groceries in a taxi doesn't sound like much fun to me. 

Next, the feel of the apartment is just right for us. Number two, the resort used to be all hotel so it very much feels that way.  It has a very industrial feel to it especially in the bathroom where you feel like you are in a school locker room. Number one feels much more like a home 🏠💗 

School locker room-- yuck! (Resort) 
Luxury bathroom with shower and tub! (Our choice) 

Now I will say that it (#2) had an UNBEATABLE view but if you are going to live in Doha why not actually live where everyday when you walk outside it feeeeeels like it rather than just seeing it and feeling like you are in a compound instead? 

Finally the price, although it wasn't a very big jump from 1 to 2 ( and we actually ended up upgrading the room in the downtown location so they come out to be about the same) but having all of he bills included is such a nice perk. Especially since we are total budgeting nerds and thrive on knowing EXACTLY what our expenses will be each month so that every dollar-- heck every penny will have a name in our budget. ( PS HOLY COW NEXT WEEK WE WILL OFFICIALLY BE DEBT FREE!?? Student loans and all!!!!) 

And what do you do with your money when you are debt free? WHATEVER THE HECK YOU WANT so I think a camel race will be in our near future :) because I am a nerd and camels racing sounds totally hilarious and fun 😊

Oh yeah! And number three wasnt furnished so basically that was the end of that lol plus traffic and further away from everything etc etc no one picked that anyways lol oh AND this one (#1) is like fully fully fully funirnished like I am talking plates, sheets, shampoo, EVERYTHING! Which is so nice because we won't want to have to go buy all that stuff then throw it all away when we move again. 

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post, you saw most all of them last post but I do intend next week when we move in (WHOOP!) to send full apartment photos since we did upgrade since the last post and it is just so awesome and I am so excited that I have to document ! 

Okay love you guys!! Thanks again for following along with us! I am always so encouraged to hear that you guys are actually reading and actually enjoying experiencing this journey with us! So grateful for you and all of your kind words!! 💗💗

Shokran & Gig 'Em ! 

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

House Hunters International: Destination Doha

We have finally done it! We have found and signed on our brand new apartment!
Literally the second day we were here we started looking around for where we would like to live and even long before, back in Texas we searched online to get an idea of what the living situation would look like. Since here we have met with at least 8 different real estate agents and seen upwards of 15 apartments all over Doha! I have selected three different apartments from the three main areas that we were interested in living. 

One of these apartments is the one we chose. 
Can you guess which one?! 

So one of the most important things to us when looking was proximity to Zach's work. He drove around 40 min everyday in Houston to let me be close to my work so I promised him coming here that that would never happen again! Luckily Zach's work is literally right in the middle of all three of these! 

Our big priorities are:
Bailey        Open kitchen 
                   Large gym

Zach           Furnished

Both.          Location

So here is a map of Doha where I highlighted the three locations  that we looked at. 

Zach's work is in that area right behind number two. 

So let's dive in! 

The first apartment is in the West Bay Area or what you may think of as downtown or where the towers are. The one here is actually in one of the towers, right in the middle of the city. It is literally right next to "City Center" Mall the largest mall in Qatar. Also a short walk away from the Corniche, an 8 mile path along the gulf. 

This apartment was the mid price range of the three but includes all of the utilities in the rental price as well as twice weekly cleaning. It comes fully furnished and has two pools, a gym and steam rooms. 

Beds 1
Bath 2
Price Middle
Location West Bay 
Pros : Great location right in the middle of downtown 
          Fully furnished
          Open kitchen

Cons: Smaller Gym 
          No beach 

The next apartment number two on my little map is in an actual full blown resort. Two of the buildings are hotel two are residencies. This apartment is the highest priced, has a guest bedroom is also fully furnished and has the most incredible view of West Bay. It comes with a huge private beach, tennis courts, restaurants and multiple pools. It also has golf carts that drive you to the beach and back. Each car that enters must even talk to a guard before entering! 

Beds 2 
Bath 2
Price Highest 
Location private area 

Pros : Open kitchen
          Amazing View
          Fully furnished 

Cons: Highest Price
          Located away from all shops etc private quiet location 

The third apartment is located on the man made islands of the Pearl. This area is like its own community with its own grocery stores, restaurants and even movie theatre! The only downside is that even though the location is close, there is only one way on and off the island so traffic during rush hour can get pretty backed up. The great thing here though is that since they are islands, many building have heir own private beaches and there are larger private beaches for Pearl residents only. 

Beds 1
Bath 2
Price lowest
Location Pearl 

Let's take a look!

 Pros  Huge and high quality gym
          Private beach access
          Open kitchen 

Cons  Unfurnished 
          Traffic at rush hour 

So there they are! We can name hem downtown, resort and pearl.  What do you think we chose? What you choose?
I will post again soon to reveal our choice! 

Shokran & Gig 'Em!