Mall, Meets and Museums

Middle East
October 3rd 2019
Published: October 3rd 2019
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Monday morning we relaxed in the hotel. About 1pm we requisitioned a car to take us out to the Torch hotel as we wanted to visit the Villagio Mall which is next to the Stadium and the Torch. We had a quick look inside the Torch which is an amazing building, then walked through the adjoining tunnel that connects to the shopping centre. This place is huge!! It is designed to mimic an Italian landscape with paintings of Italian type houses, a ceiling painted as a sky and a canal on which travel gondolas! We went first to an area called Gondolandia. This is a theme park aimed at children with rides, rollercoasters and plenty of electronic games. It is vast. We explored further and looked into one wing which contained all the expensive shops such as Gucci, Versace etc with no customers in sight. However, along another walkway, was a huge Carrefours supermarket and more accessible shops. Here there were many locals and several tourists enjoying the air-conditioned comfort and the various shops and restaurants. It was now about 2-30 so we decided to have some lunch. We settled on a place called Paul at which there were many customers, unlike some of the other eateries. This proved to be a good choice. We each had a gratin, mine a chiken and Fletcher had a chicken and mushroom one. These were very creamy and cheesy with potato and plenty of chicken. We accompanied these with a mocktail each and then went the whole hog by having an icecream sundae for dessert.

We then walked over to the stadium for the night's events.The early part of the program was taken up with heats and qualifying in the women's javelin, 200 and 400. The best result here was that Kelsey-Lee Barber qualified for the final of the javelin. . There was a break of nearly an hour before the "night session" started. This was dominated by the women's High Jump final which provided some close competition and amazing jumping, especially from the young girl Muchachik from the Ukraine who jumped two World Junior records, clearing 2-02 and then 2-04 to gain the silver medal. The winner, Lastiskene, from Russia, but jumping here as an Authorised Neutral Athlete, cleared 2-06 in an excellent performance. She didn't miss right through to 2-04 and claimed her third world title in a row. In the 3000m Steeplechase, Genevieve Gregson was 10th in a season's best performance, so she can hold her head high. The winner, Beatrice Chepkoech from Kenya, led from start to finish and was most impressive. The men's discus was won by the Swede, Stahl but Matt Denny from Australia was impressive finishing 6th with a PB throw of 65-43, another excellent performance.We returned to the hotel about 11-30 and went to the Irish Bar for a nightcap. One beer and we were back to the room and bed!!

Tuesday we stayed at the hotel for the morning and shared a Grand Club sandwich in our room for lunch. We took the early bus out to the stadium and along with Michael Berloff, we were alone. Michael is an interesting man, a QC from the UK who served on the Integrity Unit and among other posts was on the WADA review for the Essendon Footy drug scandal. He has lots of great stories. At the stadium few others had arrived but we met up with the Aussie and NZ ITOs in Helen Roberts, Brian Roe and Trevor Spittle. Had a great chat to them. And then what a night of Athletics!!

The early program saw us cheering on the Aussie High Jumpers with Brandon Starc qualifying easily for the final. Then after the hour break, during which there was only the Pole Vault warm up to watch, we settled in for some thrilling competition. The men's PV final was close and became a three way battle in the end. After 5-70 the field was reduced from 12 to 8 but the next height, 5-80 saw only three left in; Sam Kendricks , the defending champion from the USA, Lisek from Poland and the 19 year old from Sweden, Armand DuPlantis. At the next height, 5-87, Lisek and DuPlantis cleared it on their second attempts. All the pressure was then on Kendricks who pulled out a massive jump on his third attempt to stay in contention. He then soared over 5-92 on his first attempt to regain the lead. Lisek then passed while DuPlantis sailed over on his third attempt. At 5-97, Lisek missed his last two attempts and had to settle for the bronze but DuPlantis cleared and Kendricks followed suit.6-02 was a step too high for both vaulters so Kendricks won on a countback. It had been a see-sawing competition and very exciting to watch. The other highlight was the women's javelin final where Kelsey-Lee Barber was one of the favourites going in.The first rounds were dominated by the Chinese throwers with Barber in third, Then Hussong from Germany snatched the bronze medal position, leaving Kelsey-Lee lying fourth with one throw to go. What a last effort!! She threw nearly three metres further on that last attempt, stretching her distance to 66-23 for a decisive win. The other three could not match it and she won the gold medal!! All Australians were very excited.

We returned to the hotel about 11-30 and headed to the bar to celebrate. It was Ladies night and I was given five vouchers for free drinks, so we were able to toast the gold medal in wine and beer!!

On Wednesday, we decided that we would not go out to the track as the program was mainly Decathlon and Heptathlon first day and there were only one or two finals which we could watch on TV. We thought it was about time to visit some of Doha's tourist sites and learn more about the culture. We took a taxi from the hotel to the Museum of Islamic Art. This is a beautiful building, right on the seafront which contains an amazing collection of art, ceramics, calligraphy and artefacts from all parts of the Islamic world.Some of the exhibits date back to the 8th century and include some exquisite glass mosque lamps and vases. The geometrical patterns of the tiles and bowls, the colour of the carpets and scrolls are a feast for the senses. They had items from Iran, Egypt, Turkey, India and Spain, right across the Islamic world. They are all beautifully displayed. We spent a couple of hours there, exploring all the permanent galleries. We then went to their attractive ground floor cafe where we had some lunch, a spinach quiche for me and a chicken and mushroom pie for Fletcher. This was accompanied by the delicious lemon mint drink which we had found in Jordan and had been looking for here. This is refreshing but not sweet like other soft drinks. We then took another taxi to the Qatar National Museum. This is very new and housed in the most amazing building which seems to be made up of circular rings. Inside the displays are beautifully presented and follow Qatar's history from prehistoric times to the present. There are films projected on the sloping walls depicting aspects of past times, such as the pearl divers who were a major part of the early economy here, as well as how they lived as nomads in the desert. The displays of costumes, jewellry and the native animals were all interesting and we spent another couple of hours, fascinated with the various presentations. In the final room, an "art" film depicts the coming of oil which changed Qatar irrevocably and was mesmerising.

We returned to the hotel about 5pm and after a short break went to the Club Lounge on the Mezzanine floor. Yvonne had put us on to this as Fletcher was entitled to be a gold member because he has a Platinum American Express Card. He joined once we were here, but this was our first opportunity to avail ourselves of its hospitality. There was some great food, and, more importantly, free wine! We spent a pleasant couple of hours here, enjoying the food and wine and watching the events on TV. The manager of guest services, .Stravis, an Australian from Melbourne, chatted to us for about 30 minutes on a variety of topics. We eventually left and returned to our room where we watched the last few events before heading to bed!

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