And what do you do for annual Sports Day? When I asked this question in my Instagram poll, most of you replied that you’re planning to stay at home and relax. This is understandable, especially if you’re working full time (Qatar has very little public holidays compared to other countries!), but I’m here to offer you an alternative.
When my friends heard about my plan of walking 50,000 steps (or 38km) that day, they usually commented in one of two ways:
— Great idea! Good luck (while I stay home and indulge in a pot of chicken biryani 😉 )
— Walk?? But it’s so difficult to walk anywhere in Qatar!
Let me focus on that second answer right now (I don’t have any further biryani comment for now other than “good for you, it’s delicious!”). Qatar WAS a difficult place to walk. Note the past tense 🙂 When I moved here in 2012 this was one of the first things that shocked me. In Poland, you can walk basically anywhere. There are many places that are closed off for cars and you don’t even have a choice 🙂 In Qatar, I found the situation reversed. Having said that, the country came A LONG way since then and now it’s a completely different story!
Most major roads had undergone a “beautification” projects, part of which involved creating pavements & bike tracks, multiple public parks have opened. And let’s not forget about the amazing Doha Metro Project, which incorporates a whole pedestrian infrastructure.
Knowing all that, I was sure that I will be easily able to walk my way towards the 50,000 steps, my only concern being various construction projects around town, which could make this task more difficult.
HOW DID WE PLAN OUR ROUTE?
I started very simple, first I googled how many kilometers should I walk to finish 50,000 steps, and then tried to project this distance onto a map of Qatar.
So the initial plan was to walk from Fox Hills to MIA Park, and back.
What I did not anticipate was that the route will not be as straight as the map tells and I will reach MIA with 40,000 steps on the clock already. We had to modify our initial plan and in the end our route looked like this:
From our home in Fox Hills, we walked to Lusail Marina (we didn’t face much difficulties there, the only real issue being crossing Lusail Highway – it was a bit of a hassle to get on the bridge). If you live in Fox Hills, you will be interested to know that it took us exactly 1 hour to walk from home to Place Vendome, where the Promenade starts.
In the Marina, we followed the promenade (with a short coffee break) and crossed over to Lagoona Mall (there’s a proper pavement all the way, we had zero issues walking there.
After a breakfast break at Paul (I was wired and wanted to go with no breaks, but hubby needed his morning fuel 😉 ), we set off towards Katara. Again, there was a wide pavement (and a bike track!) along the way. Overall, the distance between Lagoona Mall and West Bay was the most pleasant part of our walk.
We took a detour inside Katara Hills to enjoy the greenery of one of our favorite parks, and emerged on the other side, crossing via the underpass to Al Qassar Metro Station. From there we walked through the 5/6 Park and further, to West Bay. There was a bike track all the way, in case you were thinking of having a family bike trip there!
Our first inconvenience happened when we walked from West Bay to Al Bidda Park – there is some construction along the way (I believe that’s related to next year’s Expo) and there was a distance that we had to walk on the road, because the pavement was blocked off by construction fence.
We then crossed Al Bidda Park (another very pleasant part of our walk) and headed to Msheireb Downtown for lunch. I love Msheireb Downtown but I definitely didn’t love it on the Sports Day! It was jam packed with people, all better known restaurants had long waiting lists for lunch and my sweaty and tired self (already had over 30,000 steps done at this point), did not appreciate the hassle. Luckily we know some hidden gems in the area, and we ended up snatching the last table in Anis (one of my favorite spots there, their tuna tacos are to die for!).
After lunch we crossed to Souq Waqif when trouble in paradise started. I’ve developed blisters along the way because I didn’t listen to my husband and didn’t wear sports socks (I am now admitting this major mistake in front all of you!). One of those blisters literally exploded while I was walking. This is initially not painful, but SUPER weird and uncomfortable. And then it starts to hurt! Luckily, this drama unfolded right in front of the pharmacy, so hubby got me a first aid kit, cleaned and bandaged both my feet. I had around 12,000 steps missing to my goal at this point and honestly thought I won’t be able to make it.
But I did 🙂
From the Souq I limped to the Corniche, because we decided to visit Box Park. This was when walking became difficult (not because of my foot this time – because of Corniche construction works). Luckily there was a passage for people to walk, but it was narrow and views were obstructed by the fence. We crossed to MIA Park, where we had to maneuver between cars parked literally everywhere, to get to the gate on the Box Park side.
Once we reached Box Park which was also crowded (although not as bad as other places along the way!), we wondered what to do next. With just over 40,000 steps done we had no idea where to go. 🙂 Hubby wanted to grab a coffee so I suggested we go to Desert Rose in National Museum of Qatar.
NMoQ is, in theory, very close to the Box Park. BUT you need to factor in the Corniche construction works. What was supposed to be a 15-minute walk, turned into over an hour (which was fine because we did need the steps). Once we reached the Museum, we realized we are running short of time and we need to make an impossible choice: coffee or finishing the 50,000 steps 😀
With heavy heart, we decided to ditch the coffee and made an attempt to cross back to the Souq. As a result, we got lost in the congested and dug up area behind the museum. 🙂 It would be loads of fun (I love to discover new places!), but my poor foot was seriously disturbing and all I wanted at that point was to finish the steps, lie down somewhere and not get up until the next day preferably 🙂
We finally reached the Souq and then, around 5:30pm, we met our goal!
This was super cool also because 3 years ago we had a 40,000 steps challenge and finished our steps at the exact same place – next to Al Mandarin, where we enjoyed a celebratory smoothie, loaded with ice cream, nuts, and shameless sugar in general.
WHAT ADVICE DO I HAVE, IF YOU’D LIKE TO TRY IT?
— Plan your route in advance. Take into consideration ongoing construction, location of bathrooms (important, yet very easy in Qatar 🙂 ) and things you’d like to see along the way.
— Wear comfortable shoes AND socks (so important), especially if you’re not used to walking long distances!
— Apply sunscreen! I forgot about it (what a rookie mistake to make!) and ended up with bad sunburn on my neck.
— Take a small backpack and pack the necessities (definitely water, some money, power bank, spare face masks, first aid kit).
— Plan your breaks carefully, and factor in a couple of stretches along the way, if you can!
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