1 While in Doha, we went to visit the Souq Waqif. Souq means "standing market" and is noted for selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It also has a section for animals and pets.
2 We saw lots of birds for sale, such as these pretty parakeets. There was even a section, where experienced handlers exhibited their falcons.
3 There were many fruit vendors at the Souq Waqif. Here is a vendor selling small pear-like fruits, which seemed very popular.
4 These are dried limes - limes that have lost their water content from drying in the sun. These are used whole, sliced or ground, as a spice in many Middle Eastern dishes.
5 The Souq Waqif is located in the district of Al Souq, which is in the center of Doha. It is a great source for buying all kinds of spices, nuts and dried fruits.
6 As a top tourist destination within Doha, thousands of people from across the region frequent the Souq Waqif to purchase traditional goods. Here is a boat maker, and some of his boats for sale.
7 When I saw these oversized baskets, I thought they would be great to use as garden trugs at the farm, but then thought they may not be as practical as the waterproof plastic ones we already use.
8 I also spotted these charming and whimsical handmade toadstools.
9 After our visit to the Souq Waqif, we headed toward the desert. Many people camp out at the desert - we saw many tents set-up at various locations along the way.
10 We stopped here for a brief camel ride. These are dromedaries, or one-humped camels, which inhabit many areas of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
11 A full grown adult camel stands about six-feet at the shoulder and about seven-feet at the hump. These camels were very nice and friendly.
12 Camels are working animals with tasks ranging from transportation to load bearing. They are also quite fast - camels can run up to 40-miles per-hour in short bursts, and sustain speeds of up to 25-miles per-hour.
13 Here I am before I got on my camel.
14 Judy, Heather and Daisy mounted their camels and are ready for a ride.
15 The camels' thick coats insulate them from the intense heat radiated from desert sand. The temperature was about 80-degrees during our visit, but it gets much warmer in summer months.
16 And here is our entire group - it was lots of fun.
17 Our drivers are very experienced and skilled at dune bashing, so we decided to give it a try. Dune bashing is a form of off-roading on sand dunes.
18 Large sport utility vehicles are generally used for dune bashing. Before starting, it's essential to reduce the car's tire pressure in order to gain more traction on the sand.
19 It isn't easily seen in these photos, but there were some steep inclines in the landscape. Dune bashing is actually a lot like a roller coaster ride.
20 The desert is full of ever changing dunes. When dune bashing, the car weaves through trackless desert, tackling both low and high dunes at different speeds. Some of us were screamers, while others really enjoyed the ride.
21 Here are some of the tracks our vehicle left behind.
22 Some of the dunes were more bumpy than others.
23 Thomas took this beautiful panoramic shot of a dune. The darker section in the center is where water usually floods in from the Gulf during high tide. On this day, it was low tide.
24 Here is another breathtaking view.
25 After dune bashing, vehicles stop at the refueling station, where air is pumped back into the tires.
26 Thomas and Daisy posed for a quick snapshot.
27 And here I am - after "conquering the desert". It was a fun time for us all.
29 There were also many different breads to sample.
30 These are jars of labneh balls - creamy, fresh, Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt and preserved in olive oil.
31 In the back, there were lots of olives, and in the foreground, jars of feta, goat cheese and other cheeses - so much from which to choose.
32 There was also a variety of prepared salads available.
33 Here is another salad.
34 And, some vegetable and meat kabobs
35 This is the lunch plate of our friend, Marco Larsen. Everyone was quite hungry and ready for a delicious meal.
36 We attended an Asian exhibit at the Qatar Museums Gallery Al Riwaq, called "What about the Art?", a collection of contemporary art from China. This is called "Sculpting Contemporary Chinese Art History" with 600-odd clay sculptures displayed on sand-covered terraced mounds, including miniature people, and animals in everyday scenes, by artist, Hu Zhijun. https://www.qm.org.qa/en/project/qm-gallery-alriwaq
37 The exhibit was commissioned by Qatar Museums, and curated by Cai Guo-Qiang. It includes work from a group of 15 artists from Mainland China. This installation is by artist Liu Wei. It is a massive imagined city that includes bits of Western Civilization, made entirely of dog chews.
38 Here is more of Liu Wei's intricate work.
39 Artist, Huang Yong Ping's "Wu Zei" tackles the issue of environmental pollution. This giant octopus nearly fills the ceiling and winds its tentacles around the columns in the room with garbage stuck to the ends.
40 This is a look under the belly of the octopus.
41 This was a very interesting art piece - looking at it from the front, it is a peaceful landscape with mountains and trees, etc.
42 The entire work is illuminated from behind - it looks like a painting, but...
43 ... behind, is a mass of random pieces of trash, such as bubble wrap and scraps of string and paper.
44 All of these scraps of refuse were carefully placed together to form the beautiful landscape on the other side of the glass - it is quite an amazing piece.
45 This was also really interesting. Artist, Liang Shaoji, used 30-thousand silkworms over three-years to create this work. The worms spun their silk directly onto broken shards of mirror and glass spread carefully on sand-covered ground as well as onto plexiglass panels that frame the jagged glass pieces.
46 Artist, Xu Zhen, created this oil paint on canvas by squeezing it through pastry bags, and making scores of swirls. This one included shades of pink, red and orange.
47 There were also many paintings at the exhibit.
48 Here is a beautiful oil on canvas painting of vibrant colored flowers.
49 We then visited the Museum of Islamic Art located on an artificial peninsula overlooking the south end of Doha Bay. http://www.mia.org.qa/en/
50 Completed in 2006, the five-story iconic building was designed by architect I. M. Pei, and influenced by ancient Islamic architecture.
51 The MIA's collections represent Islamic art from three continents over 14-hundred years, dating from the seventh century to the 19th century.
52 Inside the museum, here is a view looking down at the cafe from the fourth floor.
53 The cafe is large, with many tables and lounging areas for visitors, and a giant fountain feature in the center.
54 Through the large windows is a spectacular view of the Doha Bay and the city skyline.
55 Above the curved double staircase floats this ornate circular metal chandelier.
56 An oculus, at the top of the museum's atrium, reflects the light from different angles of the dome. The entire space is filled with geometric patterns.
57 Here is a photo I took of our group from an upper floor of the atrium.
59 The restaurant overlooks the Bay through these massive windows.
60 IDAM is Alain's first restaurant in the Middle East. It opened in November 2012, and seats 60-guests.
61 This giant wall of shelves and books was eye-catching.
62 Chef Alain's menu includes Mediterranean cuisine with a touch of influence from the Middle East. This is sole with chestnuts.
63 Daisy's vegetarian dish was filled with vegetables, including ground up cauliflower on top - almost like a rice or cous cous.
64 This dish is squid - scored and cut over crispy rice and herbs.
65 We went back in the kitchen, and saw the chefs plating our desserts. These are cubes of chocolate mousse wrapped in chocolate shells and chocolate ganache with decorative gold leaf on top.
66 Fresh pomegranate juice served over ice
67 And, a pistachio combo - pistachio tart with a silver leaf garnish on the right, and a pistachio dacquoise with a pistachio mousse underneath.
68 This is a date soufflé served with a scoop of kefir ice cream. It was delicious.
69 Here is a trio of sweets - chocolate with a golden peanut, a chestnut with chocolate and caramel, and a meringue with marmalade.
70 Here I am in the back kitchen with Chef Frederic Laquemin and Chef Christian Julliard from IDAM.
72 While we were at the museum, I had the opportunity to sign the MIA guest book.
73 In the evening, we had dinner at the home of Muna's friend, Suzanne Kanaan, and her husband, Dr. Allam. Suzanne is standing above on the left, and Dr. Allam is seated on my left. Suzanne prepared the most delicious food. Everyone was so warm and inviting.
74 Thomas and Daisy
75 Some of the dishes included this one with lentils, herbs and crisp pita on top.
76 This salad included arugula with crumbled feta cheese.
77 Chicken kabob and lamb kefta, a type of meatball popular in Middle Eastern cuisine.
78 This is hamour, which is fish, with tahini sauce, lemon, pine nuts and parsley.
79 I am a big fan of okra, and loved this dish. The okra was stewed with tomatoes and onions.
80 Shrimp with a tasty curry sauce
81 Here are two versions of kibbeh - a vegetarian option made from pumpkin and the other with traditional meat. They were both fried. In the center, traditional spinach pies called fatayer.
82 Here is my plate - I wanted to try everything.
83 This was a chocolate mousse cake.
84 This is a shredded filo dessert called kanafeh - a Levantine cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup.
85 These were little fried fritters also soaked in a sweet syrup.
86 After the delicious meal, we all enjoyed some dancing and Arabic music.
87 It was so much fun!
88 After the lovely party, we all headed to the airport for the overnight flight home on Qatar Airways. We landed in Philadelphia and hopped on a helicopter to New York City. Here are Judy, Heather and Daisy on our helicopter.
89 Here we are as we approached New York City and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
90 The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge that connects the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
91 Judy captured this shot of the Statue of Liberty. It was a lovely trip, but it's always nice to return home.
92 And, this was our helicopter after we landed at the heliport in Manhattan.