QATAR BLOG DAY THREE – MONDAY JANUARY 29
A NASTY CASE OF QATAR

I lost a Carrefour this afternoon. Not a rubbish Carrefour Metro, but the biggest shop in Doha.

It began at the finishing line when nobody told me that the press bus was leaving for the hotel. The first thing you should know about journalists is that ? like a gossipy bunch of lying thieves with dictaphones, there is no honour amongst them. The first I saw of the bus was the back of it disappearing down the road. Nothing for it but to find a taxi, but I was some way from central Doha.

I could see the Carrefour, which I knew had a taxi rank, from some distance away. I hiked across, taking a short cut across a building site where the workers laughed at me (Builders have laughed at me my whole life ? like lions picking out weak gazelles from a herd, they can tell I?m easy pickings).

My mistake was to lose sight of the Carrefour, and I found myself on the wrong road, a kind of Qatari version of the South Circular. With angrier, more fatalistic drivers.

I eventually realised I had left the Carrefour far behind, but help came in the form of a hard-bargaining taxi driver who pulled up and said his name was Dave, even though it quite clearly wasn?t. He took me back to the hotel for 50 Riyals. I reckon I could have had him down to 35, but he could see the desperation in my eyes.

Some of my readers (hi mum!) and work colleagues, not least the one who chose to spend a day in the Cycling Weekly office scouring through back copies for old race reports above four nights in the Doha Ritz Carlton, have been emailing to ask more about the accommodation. I?d be only too pleased to expand, given that it is unlikely I will ever experience luxury this profound again in my life.

The lobby is a cavernous space filled with hotel workers whose job is to stand there and wish you a good morning, afternoon and evening. It?s impossible to walk from the lifts to the dining room without meeting at least one.

When I arrived in my suite, there was a personal message to me on headed notepaper from the hotel manager. The main room is how mine would be if I had done a bit better in life, while the bedroom is so comfortable it seems a shame to sleep in it. The bathroom is bigger than some flats I?ve lived in.

There’s a fruit bowl, but I can’t eat any of it, because it has been made into a sculpture which looks nicer than the fruit would taste.

And there is a walk-in mini bar.

Only kidding. But I?ve suggested one on the feedback form.

DO BUILDERS LAUGH AT YOU? CONTACT US ON CYCLING@IPCMEDIA.COM