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Qatar National Day Parade is something everyone should experience at least once. The last time I made the effort was 2010. Back then the parade was early in the morning around 7am if I remember rightly. And to get a seat you had to get there around 5:30am.

This year it was scheduled to start at 3pm. We left home and started walking at 11:30am. It should have only taken us 20 minutes to walk down from where we live, but with crowd control involving a much longer route it took us about 40 mins. Then an additional 35 minuets to find an entrance that we could actually enter, and clear security. Because there was only a short cue for the ladies security Vic was through in just a matter of minuets and was able to go searching for seats in advance of me getting through. My experience at security was not pleasant. Pushing, shoving, rude people. How I managed to stay calm I will never know. Being British I am accustomed to orderly well-behaved queuing. There was nothing orderly about this cue.

When I finally got through the metal detectors and was out of that horrible queue, the relief of being in open space again was overwhelming. I still had to have my bag checked, but I didn’t care now that I was out of that horrible queue. The police man checking my bag was very polite and he appologised for having to do it. I replied to his apology by saying it really wasn’t a problem and I could see he was having a challenging day. My bag only contained munchies for our long wait before the parade started, so it was a nice easy search for him. And that was that. I was free to walk around in open space. Phew!

Vic had gone ahead as she was through security a good 20 mins before me. But by the time she got to the seating (around 12:30pm) there was nothing left. But she had managed to secure a small space of ground in the shade of the seating where we could comfortably sit down and rest our weary legs and have something to eat and drink.

At 3pm we stood up and tried to find a spot where we could see the parade. We were in a group of people wedged between two seating stands. The ground was slightly raised so we could just about see the road through gaps in people’s heads. When the parade got under way properly around 3:30pm the view became a little more restricted with people holding up mobile phone (yup I was one of those), and placing babies on their shoulders.

The parade was a box ticked for a second time for me, and the first time for Vic. I’m still glad we went, but the crowds and the cues mean that we probably won’t made the effort again. We will leave space for others to go and enjoy instead.

If you are thinking about going along to see the National Day Parade 2018, then here is my advice; Leave home early, very early. We live near Rumailah Hospital and as soon as we left home we could see people parking to walk down from that location. We should have left home a good hour earlier to have stood any chance of getting one of the public (non VIP) seats. Make sure you take plenty of munchies and water as you will have a long wait, and perhaps a power bank as you are going to be playing with your phone a lot while waiting.

I decided not to take a camera this year. It was a good opportunity to test the camera on my new Samsung Galaxy Note 8. I am very, very happy with the Note 8’s cameras. The 2x optical zoom was a life saver yesterday. We were really far back from the action, and the 2x optical zoom got me just a little closer without using digital zoom. The images included in this post have not had any post production. They were imported into Adobe Lightroom, and with the exception of just one image that I cropped to make it level, they were exported back out again. No exposure or saturation adjustments. I am now very glad I upgraded my phone from my beloved Galaxy S7 Edge. I now have a camera I am very comfortable with, in my pocket at all times.

Qatar National Day 2017
The view you will get if you only arrive 3 hours early. I should have left an hour earlier and got a better position and possibly a seat.

I can’t remember the last time I went to an art gallery, but I think it was a school trip a German Encounters Exhibitionlong, long time ago. I had mixed feelings about attending this German Encounters exhibition because I’m not much of an artie, and I wasn’t sure if I would find a German exhibition particularly interesting. However after just 45 minuets of walking around the exhibits I was a total convert. A lot of the abstract paintings didn’t float my boat because well it’s just not my thing. But the photography was really, really outstanding and inspiring.

I enjoyed this guided tour as a part of the Honorary Cultural Ambassador training program so much, that I will be returning to the Fire Station independently next Thursday for the once a year Open Studio Night.

Open Studio Night at The Fire Station

There are 20 studios containing 20 different artists of varying types within the Fire Station. And on just one night a year they have an open evening where you can visit the artists in their studios to see what they are up to and have a chat with them.

Just being in the Fire Station itself, without even seeing an exhibition is a lovely way to spend time. It’s a peaceful place with much to see. If you like taking photo’s this is a fabulous place for you to get some quality snaps.

All the images posted in this article were taken on my Galaxy S7 Edge. I will need to go back with my Sony a7 to get some better photos in and around the Fire Station soon.