Arabian Bad Boy Qatar is the next country where I am to visit on a layover, and I am eager to see if the country is just another tiny Gulf nation, or if this Saudi rival is in a league of its own. At sunset I catch an Uber to my hostel, which is just three buildings in the middle of a desert neighborhood with a bunch of dudes just hanging out wherever there’s a soft surface on which to sit. I finally find the manager among them, who shows me my dark, cool room. Qatar is hot, and this is heaven. I can’t wait to sleep, but since my flight is early in the morning I have to at least do a decent job of exploring capital city Doha before I take off tomorrow for Iraq. So, I call an Uber and have him take me to an exchange in the downtown area.
My driver is a Pakistani man who has been living in Qatar for a decade. We dish over things to see in Pakistan, and he tells me how he prefers living here to in his home country. Qatar is much calmer, and even when there is traffic, he explains that no one honks their horns. I notice that when I get out on one of the busiest streets, where traffic whispers along like the wind. The desert feels like walking outside while it’s snowing when every noise is muffled, and in the souqs merchants barely speak above a yawn. I turn down one alley and come to a dozen shops all selling birds in cages, and every bird and owner glances at me and goes back to minding his own business.
After seeing the Qatar skyline, Al-Fanar Mosque and strolling by the many motorboats used to transport commuters to the business district across the bay, I decide it is time to grab dinner and go to bed. I find a shawarma place because at this point I am addicted to the stuff and need help. It’s full of locals and migrant workers, and I can only buy one thing--chicken shawarma with hot peppers--so ordering is simple. I down iced tea after iced tea as I have been sweating a pint an hour for the whole evening in this city that somehow gets hotter later in the evening. From there, I catch an Uber to my air-conditioned desert cell and fall asleep until my alarm awakes me at an ungodly hour.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.