Just over a year ago, I spent two weeks in Rome with work. I had already fallen in love with Italy a couple of years before when I’d stayed on an Agriturismo in Tuscany, but this trip re-affirmed that this was a country that I had a real affinity with. The Italians have an almost unrivalled passion for everything and anything; they love good food made with simple and wholesome ingredients; their music is full of emotion (have a listen to this by one of my favourite singers Lorenzo Jovanotti Cherubini: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSea1YPxK1c), their wine’s alright and their countryside and cities are diverse and beautiful and remain relatively unspoiled.
Next up on the Italian wishlist is a trip to Venice. Mummy Bags and I were supposed to go a few years back but we never made quite made it there due to an unfortunate incident with a passport (don’t ask!), but we’re always talking about when we might be able to fit it in.
We needn’t clear our diaries too quickly however, because there is a little bit of Venice, right here on our doorsteps on The Pearl. Welcome to Qanat Quartier, or Little Venice:
I don’t think it’s an exact replica of the centre of Venice, but it is certainly reminiscent of it, with intricate canals positioned around squares and plazas, bordered by colourful Venetian-style houses. The Pearl website says that their aim was to create “a waterfront village reminiscent of the best of Venice and Amsterdam, but with a unique festival atmosphere of its own”, and dubs it “Venetian charm meets Arabian chic”.
It’s early days, and while the place is more ghost town than festival-like right now, there is certainly a lot of potential for this place to become one of my favourite parts of Doha.
Look how pretty it is!
At the Arabian Gulf end of Qanat Quartier lies the best beach we have found so far, and during Rich’s week off last week we spent quite a bit of time here enjoying the sun and the sea.
On one of these days, as the sun was beginning to dip behind the pastel houses and we were packing up our things to go home, we heard music and laughter coming from one of the streets behind the beach. Suited and booted businessmen and women were beginning to gather in their hoards, and we decided to get a closer look. It appeared that QNB were sponsoring an open house event to showcase some of the premiere seafront properties, and despite our completely inappropriate beach attire and a few dirty looks, we couldn’t wait to have a snoop around.
Lord Byles surveying his view from the roof terrace:
I have been looking at things a bit differently since I got to Doha.
Walking through Qanat Quartier alone with Rich the first time, not seeing a single other person but simply enjoying the sights and sounds and each other’s company was pretty special.
This video pretty much sums it up (brace yourself for a soppy but rather lovely 10 minutes).
NB. You will have to watch this on a laptop or desktop – I’m not computer-savvy enough to make it work on a phone I’m afraid!