A little sense of freedom is the ability to drive yourself somewhere. After a week of being chauffeured around we finally drove through the streets of Doha ourselves. While it seems simple, it is actually quite daunting for many reasons.
The very obvious is having a different, much larger car than what we are used to. Memories of driving my Pathfinder and Montero in Los Angeles quickly came back. We know basically where we are, but street signs are minimal, google maps isn’t exactly helpful here due to the city being a construction zone and other directional terminology is not as clear as we are used to. For example, to get to school it says take the service road not the exit. What is that?! Or these instructions coming from another source with a loss in translation :
- First right, at the T-junction turn right, second left, second right where you will see a mosque at the corner.
- We are at the end of that road on your right hand side
To ensure navigational success the night before I studied Doha’s map thoroughly and managed not to get lost to our destination. I will admit that I’m not sure exactly how we got back home though!
Now the question is if we will ever get used to the other chaotic drivers. It seems like everyone is driving according to their own interpretation of what the laws are. Traffic circles cause me the most stress because no one is abiding by the rules so forcefully ingrained in me by my driving instructor in Denmark. The common courtesy of allowing others onto the highway or noticing that someone has their blinker on to change lanes doesn’t seem to exist, or just ignored. Our worry is not us driving, it is everybody else around us.
But this is the only way to get around or we would be dependent on taxis or Uber, which we have become fans of. We have taken Uber a couple of times now and think it is the best way to travel if needing a ride. There is a lack of decent public transport here and basically no opportunity to walk somewhere, unless you are a gambler with your health. Polar opposite of what we were used to when living in Europe.
We currently have our international licenses and our Danish driver’s licenses, which we will be exchanging this week for our Qatari ones. We only need to take an eye exam which is so much easier than if we had our U.S. driver’s licenses, which is not recognized by the local BMV. A benefit of having the Danish driver’s license! By the way that was its own level of stress to obtain. The Danish exam was the most difficult written test and road examination I have had to deal with. Considering we both had been driving since the age of 16, it seemed like we were teenagers again having to prove to the Danish policeman that we know how. But that is thankfully done.
Next step is to purchase a second car… we haven’t had two cars since we lived back in Cleveland! The luxury?!