Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Date Night in Doha

Since life is so hard here in Doha (kidding) we deicided to give ourselves a break, ditch the kids (also kidding) and go out for a good date night!

Okay who am I kidding?  Practically every night feels like a date night here with Zach 💗 We just needed a good excuse to go see a (mildly) overpriced movie! ;-) 

Luckily for us, there is a movie theatre right across the street from us in a City Center Mall-- yes the same mall that has our grocery store in it. Why do no American malls have these added benefits? Get on Doha's level Gelleria! Jk 

So like always we just went right across the street
Not sure what happened to my camera in these ones-- can I blame it on the humidity? Okay yeah let's go with that! That excuse will also bid well for explaining my fizzy hair hehe 
And yes! This is Zach wearing a jacket in the desert! Even though we are in Spring, evenings and still some afternoons here are pretty chilly!

Is it weird that I am already used to seeing dudes in white dresses everywhere? Haha 
The men here in white are actually all of the Qatari Nationals and quite proud of it. They say only real men wear pink but a dress takes it to a whole new level! Somehow this dress finally looks like a masculine thing to me----- except when you see them lift it to walk through a puddle or mud-- in those moments there is nothing that could make it look manly! 
Such a huge mall!
We got out tickets here at one of at least 6 open counters. The cool thing is they have an iPad where they let you select your seat before you go in. So convenient but also risky because you have no idea who you will be placed next to O_o   

Tickets were right at about $10 which I guess is normal for movie tickets now days -- nothing will ever compare to College Stations $4 tickets though ... Sigh..  
Another cool thing is that they show movies from all across the globe. Leave it to us to see a typical American movie but still! Cool to have the options!
Here are our tickets-- nothing too special there. 
Then when you enter you are immediately greeted by a much different smell than what you get in America! Don't worry, it's a good kind of different!! 

Instead of getting that warm, buttery smell of salty and delicious popcorn-- it smells sweet. And me with my sweet tooth wanted at least a pound of whatever it was I was smelling. 
Turns out, instead of having just your basic everyday butter popcorn, they sold two kinds. One was the classic, the other was the source of that delicious smell! Fresh caramel popcorn!! Mmmm! 
This is not your typical cracker-jack or Christmas bucket caramel popcorn though. It is a very thin layer of dark almost burnt tasting caramel. It sounds weird and no good but holy cow it was delicious!! I am pretty sure that Zach and I finished out whole bucket before the movie even started!!
When we ordered though, we were unsure if we would like the Qatari style popcorn, so we got some "Maltesers" as a back up plan. 
Turns out that they were both good and this date turned from romantic night out to fat slugs pigging out! 
Another cool thing was this room where you can put down all of your shopping bags, strollers etc while you watch the movie. I guess there must have been some sort of number system or something to keep things sorted and safe? Nice feature!
So cool to see movie posters in Arabic! (If this is even Arabic?? I don't even know??)
Zach hates when we ask people to take photos of us -- I don't! :) 
So anyways we went in and the layout was just like any other typical theatre. 
I talked Z into seeing Focus 😊
I always look forward to seeing the previews when I go to the movies so then I can choose what movies to see next. Oddly enough though, here, the only previews shown were of other movies currently playing at the theatre. Maybe they don't know which movies they will get until they actually get them? Not sure but it was definitely different. 

Another interesting thing that I hadn't considered until the movie started were the subtitles. Every movie, all throughout the movie had subtitles in Arabic and French. Another reminder that we are definitely not in America! I am just happy that they played the movie in its original language and that we weren't the ones having to read the subtitles!! 
Focus was a great movie, I would definitely recommend seeing it! After all who doesn't love a good Will Smith movie? 

Once it finished we came right back out the way we had gone in to the front of the mall. 
But not before we had a quick stop by Starbucks of course! 
Everyone look at how handsome my husband is!! <3
Hope you enjoyed our Date Night!

Shokran  & Gig Em! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Grocery Shopping in Qatar

One of the most interesting and practical adjustments that we have made since our move has been shopping. Specifically grocery shopping. It used to be so routine for Zach and I, Sunday afternoons I would decide on my meals for the week, write up a grocery list then head off the the grocery store. I would find everything I needed at my local ( and beloved ) HEB, spend my budgeting amount without even having to calculate anymore then head back home. When I would pull into the parking garage I would give Z a call and he would come right out and help me bring the groceries up to our apartment.

So simple and easy. 
It became like clockwork for us and we loved it 

Moving here has definitely put an interesting spin on this routine for us. 

I still plan out my meals but have to be very loose with them. You see the grocery stores here don't exactly carry the same products from week to week. In fact the grocery store is nearly completely different from one trip to the next. Not only what items they have in stock but even where the items are located on the shelf! ( not to mention the items that they just don't carry at all)  I thought I was totally nuts at first but it turns out to be a normal thing and so I have had to learn to just sort of go with it. 

Once I finish my intended grocery list, in stead of jumping into my car, now I literally just walk across the street to the "City Center Mall". 

And yes,  the grocery store is literally INSIDE the mall.  Very weird, I know. 
But man what a beautiful mall it is! I don't mind this at all. :) 

I go up some stairs...
Across a main hall 
And there it is, Carrefour! One of (if not the) biggest grocery store in Doha! 
Now I related the first grocery store I went into (the Hypermarket by our old hotel) to a Super Walmart but this one is more like a Super HEB (is there such a thing?)   It is definitely higher end than the other and carries everything from produce to appliances and clothes.
They also have incredible customer service here. It is almost overwhelming at times when you just want to randomly browse around. 

When you walk in, you first pass a counter with tobacco products, then some premade fresh meals and as you can see here, fresh flowers. 
Next, there is a counter with every kind of nut and dried fruit your heart could imagine. They are sold in bulk by weight as well as prepackaged. 
Then the store opens into tons and tons of fresh produce! 
Some sold by weight and some prepackaged. 
Compared to American prices, these are pretty competitive. Many things are priced right about the same although certain, less popular items here are priced a little higher. Milk for example is priced higher here as well as things like maple syrup (which isn't sold at all at Carrefour!). 
They also sell more exotic things that you could never get at your local HEB. For example, banana flower. What in the world do you make with banana flower anyways?
You can get many of the same fresh herbs, even a full out plant if you are into that. 
This is a perfect example of how the assortment varies from week to week. Last week, I got a whole bunch of limes and planned another recipe this week with lime as an ingredient, but low and behold, every kind of lemon you could want and not a single lime! Guess I wasn't the only one who panned them into my menu this week! 
That little green guy in the middle there is a pear! Not a lime! 

Like in America, you grab plastic bags to fill with your selection of fruits and veggies. Here though, before you leave the produce area, you go up to a weighing station like this to get each bag weighed and a sticker with the price and bar code stamps on the outside. This way when you check out, it is super quick and easy. 
Although they don't have any pork, they make up for it in fresh seafood! 
Don't worry, you can also get it prestripped and cleaned!

Cream cheese was also on my list. Is Philadelphia "cheese spread" the same thing? 
Not so fast, they have a whole wall of cheese spreads to choose from! 
And what is Labaneh? 
I am sure by this point you can imagine how lost and confused I look wandering each week at Carrefour. I am not sure if I will ever fully warm up to some of the strange things I see there. 

In America you have like 37 different kinds of peanut butter, this week at Carrefour you get either chunky or creamy. 

Last week they had only Nestle Tolhouse chocolate chips, this week only Hershey's. Totally luck of the draw! 
The smallest bag of sugar I could find was like 5 lb. So embarrassing to walk out of there with! But omg it was only like $2! 
Finally, when you are ready to check out you go to one of the literally 75 lanes. 50 of them being open at all times making there NEVER be a line to wait in. Then, just like HEB, they will bag up your groceries into your cart for you, but beyond that, they will even unload your groceries onto the belt for you! 
Here is my 3 man team of helpers lol 
Then when you are all finished...comes the weirdest part.

Now of course if I had a car it could be different, I would simply take these down to it and act like a normal human. But as many of you know, Z and I opted out of the whole car situation so I take my cart and go right out into the mall. 

Literally walk through the mall with a shopping cart. 


Then if you recall, the grocery store is second level so I have to get on an elevator with my grocery cart. 
(they have those cool grocery cart ramp like escalators too) 

Then I walk out of the mall with my cart   Yes! Out the front doors of the mall into a swarm of people ! 

I continue to go across the car drop off area, down a ramp to a sidewalk where I walk literally down the road with my groceries. 


My most embarrassing moment 
Every week. 
On repeat lol 

Don't believe me? 
I had Z come take photos when he came to meet me today 
Luckily, at this moment the cars had just cleared but normally I am walking in front of like 4 lanes of cars staring at me. 
And when the sidewalk is bumpy I take it to the road. 

Walking down the road with a grocery cart. 


Okay then I get to our building and Zach comes to meet me and helps bring them up. (When the groceries are too much the doorman will take them up on a dolly for us) 
We leave our cart on the sidewalk outside.

I know what you are thinking-- I must be a horrible person to do such a thing but Carrefour actually goes around the town every evening and picks up carts from all around! 

Isn't that wild? 

I just had to share. :) 

Hope you are are having a much less embarrassing weekend than me!! 

Shokran & Gig 'Em! 

New Site: One Thousand Joys

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Al Khor: No Woman No Cry Land

This past weekend we got a call from our friends Firas and Myriam to go on an adventure! They knew of a town called Al Khor with beautiful beaches about 20 min from Doha and wanted to take a little cruise up there to check it out.

At the sound of a beach, we were in! So Friday morning (work week is just Sun-Thurs) we got up and just as we were putting on our swim suits we saw that it was not so beachy of a day. The weather was more mild ( about 70 degrees) so we decided to still go but more to explore instead. 

It is wild how just a 20 min drive can take you so far across Qatar. I always forget just how little this country really is! 

So off we went! 

I can't forget to mention how scenic drives through Qatar are either. We got to see the city where the FIFA World Cup will be played. (don't let its beauty shock you) 
We saw the arena used for the World Handball Championship last month. ( actually a pretty cool stadium! But man was it smack dab in the middle of no where!) 
And alas, we had made it!

The city gates of Al Khor! 
Inside we noticed one thing right off the bat.


Yes men. 
All types of men! Fat men, skinny men, tall men, small men -- they were everywhere!! 
But you know what we didn't see? 

We passed the city mall, little strip centers and still NO WOMEN. 
It was very strange. 

So we did as planned and continued to explore a bit. We drove by the coast and it was definitely not any sort of exceptional beach so we decided to try and grab a bite to eat.
Firas had the idea to go by one of the "beach resorts" in hopes of finding both the beaches seen in pictures as well as some food. It was a neat idea, one that I would have never thought of! 

The resort he found was beautiful. 
Lots of pictures of the king and his son. ( pictures of these two are literally plastered every in this country!) 
A quite large cafe with the sky painted on he ceiling. 
Then out the back there were tons of pools and places to lounge. ( you can see here that the weather just wasn't lending itself to swim trunks and bikinis ) 
Some dorks posing on a bridge 
Can someone please help this girl with her unibrow? 
Then beach! 
Total empty without a single footprint. Ahh it is like fresh snow that no one has touched and you cant help but jump in! I threw my shoes off and went to frolic -- the others let me have my moment then we headed back up to the resort. 
Since we werent so sure how reasonable the prices on lunch here would be we opted to check out the Al Khor Mall! 

On our way we saw this Qatarian McDonalds-- two stories?? .. Must have an elevator, who in their right mind wants to walk up stairs when you have  a Big Mac to chow down on?! 
They also have delivery! For those who don't want to even risk having to walk up the stairs lol 
The mall was nice and quite populated 
Starbucks is always cool to see in different countries 
Then omg again with he stairs! As you can see here, for Qatarians the true purpose of stairs is for sitting. Escalators are for cramming yourself into to go up lol 
Notice all of the MEN! 
It don't take long before the MEN factor started to get to Firas and he suggested we get the heck outta there and go eat somewhere normal. lol 

Turned out to be a great option because back in Doha there is a delicious coffee, "sweeties" and "beekies" ( aka desert) cafe. It is called Cafe Vergnano 1882 and has the most DIVINE Caramel Macciato 
And Moccocino 
And gooey chocolate filled double chocolate muffins! 

Omg so we totally pigged out-- no judgement! 

I also love how they mark the plate with a "1882" in powdered sugar. 
It was such a fun day. I am so far over the moon and beyond thankful to have met Firas and Myriam. They are literally hilarious, totally adventurous and they might be the first couple we have met to actually love travel more than we do! Ha 

PLUS they are having their wedding ceremony in just about a month in ITALY. Way to one up us on every angle guys!! Haha jk y'all are the best 💕

On the way home we joked that maybe the people in Al Khor really do have it all figured out. "No women no cry" and they don't have a tear in sight! 

Shokran & Gig Em!