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..............Cindys Gallery - Photos of my Life
Don't Arrive on a Sunday
Another holiday begins, the plan is to end up somewhere remote where email is harder to rule the day. It’s a bit much when you have to go on holiday just to escape the email monster. We set off on the first leg to Singapore where we board our Qatar flight to Doha. We have a 12 hour layover in Doha so the plan is to overnight there. Now getting a straight forward answer to the simple question, can we leave the airport? Proved to be not so easy. Could we get a visa on arrival?, well Qatar airways said no, the Qatar immigration site said no. But people on the web said it was possible, ignore your direction to get off the airport transfer bus at "Transfers" and get off at "Arrivals". Just get in the queue at immigration and ask for visa on arrival. Now they did say you must pay for it with a credit card, cash is not acceptable. We were apprehensive, what if this Googled info was wrong or out of date, it was after all 1am and the thought of 12 hours in the transit lounge was not appealing.

Hotel A108 Qatar

Doha ally

We stood in the queue of around 300 waiting to pass through immigration, as the time ticked by you start thinking was this a good idea! Finally our turn to face the music. Everything was going well till they tried to process the credit card, "do you have any money on this card" the man in the white tunic asked. I can feel that sinking feeling creeping up from my feet, the card is not going through.

I have to say that on the whole immigration staff are the most unhelpful people on the planet, that’s on a good day. However when things are going wrong they turn into “Attila the Hun”. Cindy was told to go to the bank and pay for her visa there, I was taken to at least 6 credit card machines all refused to accept my card. You know that feeling when you holding everyone up and its now 1.45am and all the fun of standing in a queue has long gone. Just as I was hoping the ground would open up and swallow me I realized that other people had the same problem, it wasn't just me.
Finally at 2.00am we walked out of the terminal building to look for a taxi. My thoughts went our friends Chris and Paula Robinson who always have holidays that go wrong, they refer to it a "Robinson Holiday" well I had that Robinson feeling creeping all over me.

Park in Doha

Doha Street

We arrived at the A108 hotel at 02.15am, it was a nice surprise, very smart with nice Arabic touches. Breakfast next morning was excellent and cheap so I thought we had just had a brush with the "Robinson Holiday" nothing to worry too much about. Next morning we only had an hour or so to spare in Doha before heading to the airport, we went for a walk so Cindy could at least get a few pics of the place. As the hotel door opened we were greeted by a 40c breeze that said come outside suckers. At the end of the street we had to decide whether to turn right or left, both directions didn't have much going for them. Crossing a major road we headed for what looked like a small shopping center, it turned out to be a very rundown part of town frequented by guest workers. After a few shots we turned back towards the hotel passing through a small park. Cindy took some pics then came across an old Arabic guy sitting under a tree, she held up the camera and pointed to the man he smiled and she took his picture. When Cindy showed him the image he got agitated and wanted his picture back. It's a common belief in the Middle East that having your photo taken takes something away from you. Cindy just turned the camera off and showed him the blank screen and he was happy his picture had been given back.
A lunch time flight to Athens, overnight at the Sofitel then a 10am flight to Mykonos. Our ferry to Tinos had been cancelled but they booked us on another ferry plus gave us a refund. The "Robinson Holiday" was fading from memory, the guy with our rental car was even waiting for us when the ferry docked. I might add it was an aging Chevy Matiz in a delightful shade of bright green, we called it "Granny" as reminded us of a granny smith apple. Things were looking up, the house we were staying turned out to be a real gem with spectacular views out over the Med to Mykonos and Delos. All we needed now was to shop for some supplies so we drove the 4 kms back into Tinos. The main supermarket was closed so we walked around looking for a shop to stock up on food and drink. After about an hour and not an open shop in sight we began to get that sinking feeling. We could get souvenirs, religious artifacts, chocolate and cigarettes but food, no chance. We headed back to the house thinking we would go out for dinner and worry about breakfast in the morning.
That's about the time I looked down at the fuel gauge, it was very close to empty. Could we find an open petrol station on Sunday not a chance. Back at the house we now had a problem, no food and not enough fuel to risk going back into town. We had been so looking forward to the food in Greece and now it looked like going to bed with no food. The "Robinson Holiday" is back. Cindy found some pasta in the cupboard and a tin of tomatoes, I had prawn saganaki, Greek salad and a nice bottle of wine in mind. The pasta was food and it did fill a hole but what a disappointing start to our holiday. There was beer in the fridge so I poured a glass to drown my sorrows, it was strange tasting beer so I looked at the label only to discover it was alcohol free. Could I not just get something right. You Robinsons should be locked up, inflicting your syndrome on all and sundry

Stairs to our house

Oia at night

Monday morning, the shops are open the car is full of fuel and life is looking good. We did a huge shop making sure we couldn't run out, lots of wine. Note to self don't arrive anywhere on a Sunday it could spoil your holiday. On holidays like this I prefer to spend my money any from the big towns, it's the country folk who need our custom most. To that end we decided to drive up to some of the smaller villages on the island, find a taverna and have some lunch. Several villages were photographed and explored and although we saw several tavernas none appeared to be open. By 2pm things were getting serious, it wasn't that we couldn't find one we liked, we couldn't find any shops that were open. Then on a sharp bend a shop with the door open. Inside were 2 old ladies dressed all in black sitting chatting, they looked up with slightly puzzled look as we walked in. The shop sold lots of things, plumbing fittings, shoes, toiletries, tools, gas bottles and some food. Not the kind of food you could just eat, pasta, bags of flour etc. The only thing we could eat was ice cream, so lunch today was a Magnum Drumstick washed down with a bottle of very sweet orange drink, not exactly what I had in mind for a Greek lunch.
The villages feel almost deserted, there have been shops and restaurants but now sadly all shut, I fear for good. Greece is in a precarious financial position and it's not hard to see why, if the place was any more layback it would be terminal. The siesta is still alive and well and each day at 2.30pm everything shuts until 5.00pm. There is no such thing as a 7/11 store, you can't spend a dime during siesta, EVERTHING IS SHUT. That of course is not applicable on Sunday when NOTHING even opens. I was trying to think when the rest of the world gave up Sunday as a non trading day, it's been many years. To make a living these days you have to make the most of every opportunity. Let’s go somewhere quite, well we certainly did, the house we are in is really quite. I don't mean there’s not much noise, there is not a sound. Last evening I sat listening to an ant cleaning his feet, I didn't know ants made that much noise. The silence is deafening, much as you strain your ears you can't hear a bloody thing. I tell you its quiet unsettling been able to hear your heart beating in your ears. I suppose I will get used to it.
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