6 Things to do in Doha

And here we go again, hello from Doha!

I have to be honest with you guys and tell you when I first arrived to Doha, I thought that I am going to get bored in here and leave very soon, but somehow this city has managed to change my mind. Just like any other city around the world there is a charming side to Doha, and i can say I was lucky enough to find that part and explore it.

Here I am writing this while enjoying my half hour bus drive to work sharing with you my list of the main 6 things I think you should do if fate ever brings you to this city. Hoping it will help you finding your own way to enjoy staying here in Doha.
1- Early morning breakfast.
This might seem common, and you might think that this could be done anywhere in the world, but trust me in here the options are endless! Mainly because of all the people from different backgrounds and countries who live here and have managed to bring with them all their authentic food which means you can be in so many cities all at the same time and the options vary widely from strict vegetarian to fish or meat.

My favorite place is a South Indian vegetarian restaurant Sarvan Bhavan! I simply cannot get over their food especially the vada, masala dosa and their fresh filtered coffee.

2- Night at the souq!!
Whenever you feel lonely at any time of the day just head to Souq Waqif, you will find shops that open 24/7 and you will always find people there. I always go to the same shop, Tajin, a Moroccan restaurant and cafe where I enjoy the Moroccan mint tea while smoking shisha!

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Sunrise from the souq with the spiral Mousque in the background

3- Wild Doha !!!
Not so wild though :p. For me the one and only issue with night life here is that the law requires that all the bars, clubs and I guess any restaurant that serves alcohol must close at 2 am! Other than that there are so many options! Basically each bar or club has its own atmosphere and regular crowd.
I suggest you try Lava club in Intercontinental Doha, and try the terrace at the Double Tree, those two are my favorite.
4- Late night – early morning walk
Recently this has been my favorite activity to do. And since my workplace is a walking distance from the Souq and Corniche I always find myself ending up walking there alone. Especially at this time of the year when the weather is so refreshing, nothing

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Sunset at the harbor

can beat this. Do this walk and you will see Doha like you never did before, I guess this is what helped me to fall in love with the city.

5- Shopping!
Well, just like many other cities shopping here is crazy! The number of malls and shopping arcades you have is uncountable! In every mall you go to you will find a couple of shops that you want to buy things from (at least that’s me, I am on my way to become my family’s shopaholic). So while doing shopping you would end up visiting 5 to 6 different malls going home with dozens of bags and yes and empty wallet and credit card!

6- Photography (to the photographer side of you)
It is true that I’m only an amateur, but I still like to go from time to time to take new pictures, try new features.¬†And here in I found so many places that you will never get over. Just for example if you head to the Souq I guess you would need a whole day and might not be enough to capture images of all the allies and streets there.

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Always carry your camera with you, you never know when you will find a cat waiting for a picture.

As I said these are my top favorite things to do in here, but there is still way more things to do, for instance going to Katara, or hiking in the desert and much more, have you found your top things to do in here yet?

Sincerely an orange,
KJ

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Moving to Doha

Marhaba from Doha !!

Moving to Doha! Sounds easy, no? For some people it is so easy, they get on the plane, sit for 5-6 hours or so, and they are in Doha enjoying their life one day at a time. Well, I wish I was one of these people.

Anyway preparing to move here took me a couple of weeks, the hardest part was to find out what to bring with me and what to leave behind. Believe me when I tell you, that it was not an easy task as I didn’t know what I would need here, how the weather is like, what I would not find here that I need to bring with me and so on . Personally, I searched and looked around the web none of the blogs that I came across had the information that I was looking for.

VISA

Issuing the visa will totally depend on your sponsor, the more they need you, the faster they will follow up with the authorities, and the harder they will try to get it as fast as possible. However, sometimes the process would still take some time. I personally was lucky enough to get my visa in one day, however one of my friends here had to wait 3 months till she got her! So if your visa is taking time be patient and don’t worry, it is just a matter of time ūüôā

PACKING

Summer is super hot, but I have to admit that it is not as humid as other gulf countries. I personally prefer the weather here rather than the weather in Dubai for example. In winter the weather gets cold during night times and early mornings so a sweater is needed. Make sure you bring a couple with you, and during some nights a light jacket would be a must. So make sure you get light clothes for summer and get ready for the heat waves, and don’t forget sweaters and light jackets for winter.

GETTING HERE

Don’t pay attention to any of the stereotypes that you here about the Middle East. People don’t live in tents and they are not riding camels and they also are not the characters portrayed with Jack Bauer in 24!! People are friendly and you will find everything when you arrive, everything is available at the airport. You can get your SIM card, exchange money and what have you. The only thing you won’t be able to get is alcohol, as here in Qatar in order to buy alcohol you will need to issue your own alcohol license which will allow you to purchase and enjoy your alcohol, a license valid only for you!

GETTING AROUND 

There are buses that have a schedule online and taxis that are available all the time. A subway is currently under construction.

“Karwa” is the official company that is monitoring all the transportations, taxis, public buses and even limousine services. All the official taxis have Karwa written on their doors. And when I say official I mean it, as you will find here that wherever you go and while waiting for a taxi, you will be approached by strangers asking you if you need a taxi. Be aware of scammers!

This is not an official transportation method and your safety now is in your own hands. That being said, there are some drivers who operate on their own and you’d find that some would actually be very kind and helpful, and would pick you up anytime of the day or night for that matter. Just make sure to ask your friends for a driver that they trust or deal with. Otherwise, always use a Karwa taxi.

Karwa’s official website http://www.mowasalat.com/en/portal

  

These are some of the basics things that crossed my mind, but feel free to comment below if you have any questions and hopefully I’ll have an answer for your questions ūüôā

Welcome to Doha, and enjoy.

Salam from an orange !

Kj

Hong Kong local and street food !

Well, living in Hong Kong was definitely a life time experience for me. Many things changed while staying there, what I eat, the way I eat and definitely the amount of food I take.

Before moving to HK , and naively whenever Chinese food was mentioned all what used to come up to my mind was sweet and sour chicken or sesame chicken or something close to that. Needless to say that by moving there I found out that most of what we consider as chinese food is actually not the real thing but an adapted version. And the adaptation differs from one place to another. As for example in europe it has a little western touch and in the states it is adapted to satisfy the local customers in there.

Egg puffs
Egg puffs

I won’t be able to write everything about Hong kong food, as I myself couldn’t try everything in 6 months. But I will certainly¬†¬†mention my most favourite food items. Either eaten in food markets or in the street.

For the street food my favourites are:

  1.  Eggs puff ( gai dan zai),  HK style waffles, double-sided grilled that is soft and chewy, that should be eaten only hot and fresh.
  2.  Fish balls, curry (ga lei yu daan),  made of corn starch and low quality fish. This mixture is shaped into balls to be deep fried and then served curry sauce.
  3.  Iced milk tea, it is nothing more than a strong tea, and the way it served it hot tea with ice and some ( or plenty) condensed milk. My favourit tea base was earl grey.
  4. Egg tarts, which is basically a puff pastry dough that is filled with egg mixture, made of eggs cream and cinnamon.
  5. Moon cake, is considered as one of the most traditional Hong Kong desserts as apparently there is a really deep ancient story behind these cakes that are exclusively made to celebrate for mid-autumn festival. Traditional Moon cakes have two stuffings, either red bean paste or lotus paste, whith salted egg yolk or two in the center.
  6. Egg Custard buns (Lai wong bao), which are steamed buns that is stuffed with custard, there is also another version that is stuffed with red bean paste which is as popular as the custard one.
Moon cake with two egg yolks
Moon cake with two egg yolks

Apart from street food, and on special occasions, I used to go to have a “family dinner” with the whole restaurant crew in one of the traditional food markets. Where you actually get to eat everything you could think of: from fried rice to duck intestine, and maybe some stir fried frog legs.

We almost ordered the same thing every time we went out. Century ¬†egg( thousand-year old egg) was a must, which is basically pickled eggs ¬†(just for couple of weeks) that is served with pickled ginger!! And this is considered as a delicacy. Hong Kong style fried rice, which had eggs, chicken or ham and definitely some scallions. Razor clams, (those are ¬†my favourite) but not my chef’s as he had to pay as these were quite expensive. These clams are cooked with some bell peppers and dark thick soya sauce. Fried soba noodles where also something important on that round table. Deep fried tofu and¬†deep-fried squid.

If you think that eating on a round table is a nice thing, you actually need to rethink as that is not so true at least not always. It is true that on round tables you can reach everything by just turning the glass center which rotates and makes it easy for everyone to reach, but the problem is  if the person in front of you was a chopsticks expert, and was eating in a speed that you have never seen before. If that person was there, that means he is going to eat so fast and he wants some from everything on that table. So while you trying to take some of the food and struggling with those chopsticks, he would be rotating that table non stop. Now the only way for you to eat that night is either to use your hand to stop the table from rotating, which is considered rude or simply attack the food and try to grab it before you find the center of the table moving again.

 

For more Information about HK street food follow this link for an article in HK magazine:

http://hk-magazine.com/restaurants/article/z-hong-kong-street-food

Cheers from an orange ,

KJ

 

 

 

 

 

Vienna: Sacher torte, Schnitzel, and Frankfurters.

Back in November of 2014, I had the pleasure of going to Vienna, Austria for a much needed vacation from work. And to this day I still wonder why I came back. Vienna undoubtedly ranks high among the most cultured cities in Europe. From its musicians, museums, and opera houses to its restaurants, cafes, and shops; everything in this city makes you feel alive. The focus of my trip was to enjoy as much food and culture as my budget allowed. I went to the famous Sacher Hotel Cafe, the well renowned Figlm√ľller¬†restaurant that serves the famous Wiener schnitzel, the Stephansdom, and countless other places. I visited several museums including the Belvedere (where I got the chance to see a temporary exhibition of famed artist Claude Monet’s work and of course the works of Gustav Klimt)¬†. Only one word can describe that place: spectacular. ¬†I also got the chance to attend a Strauss and Mozart inspired concert at the Kursalon. Best of all was when the opera singer started singing O mio babbino caro¬†out of nowhere as part of the last minute opera picks. Being in Vienna meant that I¬†had to go to the Vienna State Opera. And coincidentally the ballet Romeo and Juliet was having its last show that night. One other thing I do recommend is taking the horse drawn carriage tours through the city. They’re parked around St. Stephen’s cathedral and it’s a great way to unplug and put your phone away (sort of) and just enjoy your beautiful surroundings.

It is¬†pretty easy for a tourist to understand Vienna’s public¬†transportation.¬†They have one of the most complex public transport systems. You can take buses, trams, trains, and the metro; but best of all you never need to take a taxi because the other methods are so detailed and they get you everywhere. While the U-Bahn runs inside the city, the S-Bahn runs outside the city borders. and if thats not enough there are trams and buses running above ground.¬†Vienna also has a special train that runs between the city and airport. It takes less than 20 minutes and it connects you to other U-Bahn lines for intercity travel.

Shopping in Vienna is a true joy because everywhere you go you will find something you’ll want to buy. The shopping squares around the city are so beautiful I even enjoyed walking through on Sunday, a day where everything closes. If you’re looking to do some culinary shopping, Saturdays will be your best days to do so as they have weekly Farmer’s Markets with fresh produce and home made goods. I scored some black truffles at one of those markets, so keep your eyes open. The Naschmarkt is a treasure trove of shops and restaurants combined from all over the world. You will find every possible ingredient along with any restaurant whose food you might be craving.

Since I was there mid November I missed the Christmas markets by a week. But that didn’t stop me from searching for places that were selling ornaments. And I found this tiny shop that sold all sorts of Christmas tree ornaments. The lady there had every possible ornament you could think of. Fruits, vegetables, baby Jesus, adult Jesus, santas, snowmen, birds, bugs, and even pickles. It was a true treasure to have found a place like this. Ask the lady, she sure was happy swiping my credit card after I was done there. I even went twice.¬†This shop happened to be right next to the Figlm√ľller. I went there with a friend (aka, Chris) that was briefly working there. We ordered the only thing you should order there. The Wiener schnitzel.¬†It was so big, it was overhanging the plate. A true delight, I recommend you order some jam to go with the schnitzel. Now, I do feel obligated to warn you that the schnitzel is pork. So beware. I also treated myself to a lunch at this very cozy restaurant called¬†Zum weissen Rauchfangkehrer and I bet you’re thinking, WTF, well in english it means the white chimney sweep. It was the best restaurant experience I had had in a while. I ordered a set menu and you can find the courses and their pictures in the gallery below.

Sachertorte, contrary to popular belief, is not a dry crummy chocolate cake with jam inside. It is the exact opposite. But only if you eat it at the original Sacher hotel cafe. I went there one afternoon and the place was buzzing with people from all over. I ordered their foie gras terrine and although what i got looked like a dessert, it was a true masterpiece. The flavors were so well balanced and delightful i didn’t want to stop eating. I washed it down with a glass of prosecco, and then proceeded to order the sachertorte. It is served with the best whipped cream you’ll ever eat. I also ordered the sacher kaffee.

One last culinary delight I forgot to mention are all the frankfurters being sold out of tiny kiosks on every block. Any place you go to will have something delicious. Some are stuffed with cheese, some are sweet, some are salty. All i know is that these piggies will make you go to town. These kiosks exist even after all the other shops and restaurants have closed so you can get a fixin’ for your munchies. Ask my friend Chris, he’ll tell you all about it.

I’ve been to Vienna twice in my life and I sure would not hesitate to go again. That is how amazing that city is, not to mention Austria as a whole. My best advice? Get yourself a good map of the city and don’t stop walking around, because exploring a city is best done on foot and not inside a car or bus.

Helpful Website links:

Travelling to Hong Kong !!

CasewaybayI would say that I was quite lucky to be able to live in Hong Kong for 6 months in order to do my internship at one of the best fine dining restaurants there. In this thread I will write about the basic things you should know if you are just planning a visit, moving there, or you are already there and you need some guidance.

Hong Kong SAR

Hong Kong Special Administrative¬†Region of the people’s Republic of China.

Although¬†HK is considered a city in China, it has a different currency (HK dollar), different language (Cantonese as opposed to the Mandarin they speak in China), and you are required to issue a different visa. This means that if you have a nationality that¬†requires you to get a visa for HK and China before you depart your country then granting a visa for China doesn’t mean you are allowed to enter HK and vice versa.

In general Hong Kong is divided into 3 general parts: HK Island, Kowloon, and New Territories. HK Island is considered the Westernized area where most of the expats and almost all the rich people live. And as soon as you travel to the Kowloon side you will actually feel the difference and see more of the traditional chinese neighbourhoods.

As soon as you arrive at HK International Airport you can either take the MTR (underground)¬†or simply take a cab. You might save a little bit of money by using the MTR, but if you have heavy luggage or if you just had to fly for 11 hours to get over here then don’t worry about saving 100 HK$ which is around 10 euros and just get in the Cab. Be careful though, because here in Honk Kong there are three different colors for Taxicabs. Red operates almost around all HK, Green is for New territories and blue is only for Lantau Island. ¬†Most of the taxi drivers understand basic english or at least they know the names of the places in English. Also be careful about putting¬†any luggage other than a purse or back-pack with you in the cabin, anything else you better put back in the trunk or the driver will charge you extra.

Finding a place to eat should not be a problem, even if you are not ready to try any chinese food yet, you will find McDonald’s almost everywhere in HK. I will also write a later blog about food in Hong Kong and about some street food that you have to try while you are¬†there.

After you arrive at your destination, and in order to travel around the city, you either keep taking taxicabs (which could break your bank), or you get your Octopus card which allows you to take the MTR, trams, and busses. The plus side to this card is you can even use it to pay in most supermarkets. You can recharge the Octopus card at any supermarket, or MTR station.

Sightseeing. There are so many places you can visit in Hong Kong. From small temples to large ones, islands and much more. You can know about almost everything in the official discover HK website, where I will also write later about specific places that are a must to see.

The very last but not least thing that people want to know about is Nightlife. In Hong Kong there are mainly two places to enjoy the wild nightlife. LKF (Lan Kwai fung) in Central and Wan Chai, both of which are located on HK island. For sure there are other places but those are the main two. If you are looking to meet young crowds, locals and foreigners then LKF is your choice. There you will find countless clubs, bars and restaurants all in the same area. You will also find more people outside, rather than inside, on the street drinking and enjoying their time. However, if you fancy a more mature crowd, an escort, or a girl to take home then Wan Chai is the place to go.

There are so many websites for expats and for meeting people, two favorites of mine were:

Cheers from An Orange,

K