Home Stretch

Two countries and four days left on this trip. The travel gods have decided to give me a break and stopped screwing with my flights. The last two have been on time, with no medical emergencies, aircrafts on fire, or air traffic control issues. The only (minor) setback this week was my carry-on suitcase, which inexplicably now exceeds the maximum weight Qatar Airways allows in the cabin. Just like me, that suitcase has not found the motivation and/or opportunity to exercise on this trip, and it's starting to show. Checking it was a nail biter. After all that's gone awry on this trip, I was certain the travel gods had planned for me to attend my next meetings in jeans and t-shirt with no makeup on, but my suitcase and I were happily reunited in the luggage carrousel (travel gods: 'just kidding!').

It was my first experience with Qatar and they lived up to their reputation. I boarded the plane (a 787 'Dreamliner' - for a 35 minute flight!!) and was immediately surrounded by two extremely solicitous flight attendants. One took my ticket stub and guided me to my seat, while the other offered me the option of a hot or cold towel. Two more flight attendants joined them and before I even sat down had offered me dates, beverages, and would I like them to place my backpack in the overhead? It was nice in a slightly overwhelming way. The first class cabin had maybe 5 out of 22 seats occupied, so we had four flight attendants pampering us the entire time.

Upon landing in Doha I realized my original plan to get local currency from the airport ATM and take a taxi to the hotel wasn't going to work anymore, thanks to the bank forgetting to unblock my card for foreign ATMs (particularly unhelpful to learn this on Memorial Day, when the customer service call center is closed). However, the travel gods were in an exceptionally good mood. One of my fellow travelers kindly offered me a ride, the Ritz upgraded me to a suite I can't even describe - other than to say I would be happy to move in permanently - and I ended the night with a late dinner at Nobu. I thought the food was better at Nobu in Beijing, but the Doha restaurant is stunning.

Lessons learned today:

>> Maximum cabin weight on Qatar is 15kg

>> Bring more USD. If ATM card is screwed up again, exchange money instead

>> Law of Travel: after jet lag comes the crash (in this case, 9.5 hours of sleep!)

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