QATARBLOG: PART TWO
QATAR BLOG DAY TWO - SUNDAY JANUARY 28
It's day two of our stay in Qatar. Any traveller worth his salt knows that time differences don’t stop applying until day three, so by my reckoning I got up at five o’clock this morning. On the plus side, I should be drinking Cognac by four thirty in the afternoon.
The bad news is that Luc’s camera bag never made it to Qatar. While I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that our resident snapper faces adversity with a stoicism forged by countless Belgian winters, I’m afraid that separation anxiety is taking hold. It’s the closest I’ve ever seen him to a Big Brother-style meltdown.
This isn’t my first experience with lost luggage in Qatar. Last year, my clothes failed to make it to Doha. I didn’t even have enough in my man bag to go for the one-to-wash-one-to-dry approach to clean underwear, and I spent most of my stay wandering around the city’s air-conditioned shopping malls, wondering if 250 Riyals was a good deal for a pair of jeans.
Qatar Airlines have promised to send Luc’s zoom lens tonight, but I have decided not to tell him that’s what they told me twice a day, every day, last year. My clothes arrived at the airport the evening before we left, and I was able to go there the next day to pick them up, whereupon I put them right back on the flight to London.
While Luc is improvising with a disposable camera, things are progressing smoothly with the race. Regular visitors to the CW website will be familiar with the life-shortening, stress-inducing, friendship-threatening, vein-in-the-forehead-throbbing travails of our trip following the Tour France in a camper van last year. There’s none of that here. Every stage finishes in the same place – conveniently a short drive from the hotel. Rather than sleeping on a padded plank of wood, I have a huge double bed to myself. Crucially, there is no unidentifiable smell coming from below the fridge.
And best of all, the riders are wandering around without a PR goon to be seen. Normally, securing an interview with Tom Boonen will involve emails, telephone calls, messages, and personal debasement of some form or other. You will be ignored, strung along, and then told ‘no’. And then you have to say thank you.
Not here – I just wandered over to Tom this morning and asked him if we could have a chat. No problem. We meet tomorrow.
Mind you, if I had 10 Riyals for every time I’d been stood up by a rider in a hotel lobby, I’d have enough to buy a pair of jeans.
HAS YOUR BAGGAGE NOT TURNED UP? EMAIL US AT CYCLING@IPCMEDIA.COM