Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Al Zubarah Fort and Fishing Village

I have to say it - Fridays are just downright boring these days. For a long time they weren't. 
We would wake up early and look forward to exploring some new nook of the city. It seemed we always had something to do.
We enjoyed the relative peacefulness of the roads and it reminded us of Sundays growing up... no stores or shops open and that was just fine here. A family day with not too much of anything to do.  
But almost three years in and Fridays have become a thing of dread. I wait all week for Thursday night to arrive so we can casually slip in to the long-awaited weekend, but darn... Friday morning has become a big, soggy let down as of late. 
Get up...get ready...let's eat, and...umm (insert: thumb twiddle here) what? We need to get out of the house and go do something... anything. Anybody have an idea that we haven't done 100 times already?  And... Silence. 
We've just never quite established a routine for this one day of the week.... and yet, we have all the others covered so nicely!
But, alas, there is hope. We have discovered that a case of the Friday-boredom-blues can be turned around with some solid advance planning. Give it a bit of thought through the week, and stash away a few ideas for the weekend.
If we wake up with a game plan in mind,  things are more than okay again. 
Last Friday, we had a plan of attack.

Fort Zubarah
Get up (surprise ~ sun is shining!), quick breakie and dog walk, then off to explore Al Zubarah Fort.
First we had to find Al Zubarah Fort, which turned out to be pretty easy. There were some helpful directions online -- basically, you follow Highway 1 north for a long time (Al Shamal Road), turn off when you see the Zubarah sign, and continue west for approximately 40-ish kms, until you see the fort in the distance.
The drive took about an hour from our house. Not lots to see, but honestly, sometimes looking out at the Qatar desert nothingness as we drive along together (with some eclectic CD playing in the truck), reminds me of the Texas weekend drives we used to take, with no particular destination in mind. 
Al Zubarah Fort Entrance
 There is a long stretch on the way to San Antonio from Houston that must be a cousin to the drive to Zubarah. Nice memories. Lots of flat land to gaze out at and appreciate it for the wide open space that it is. I bet it's really nice at dusk.
 The Zubarah town itself  is said to date back to the early 1760's when pearl diving and trading were a booming business. The fort exists on the edge of where the town once stood. It is noted as an official Qatar Heritage Attraction that houses various artifacts, pottery and cultural displays, and encourages self guided tours through the property. It was built in 1938 on the ruins of an old castle, during the reign of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Qassim Al Thani. The fort was used by both the coast guard and military through the years,  until the mid-1980's when it was converted into a regional museum. There is no cost for entry and it is open to the general public.

Exploring an empty Al Zubarah Fort
 When we arrive at the fort, we are the only ones visiting, and we quickly figure out why. The security guard (who was mighty happy to see us... and, FYI, we read online before we went that it is nice to tip him before you leave) was speedy to inform us that the entire "artifact museum and display" had been removed from the fort a few months back while it was undergoing some restoration. (We hadn't seen anything about this online when planning the trip, unfortunately.)
So the entire place was empty. Not a table, not a picture, not a single piece of pottery or artifact. Nothing... but some dust and a few lonely birds on the rafters.
We were still able to take a nice walk around and have a look at all the rooms in the fort. The security guard didn't know when the historical pieces would be returning, so I guess we'll have to revisit some weekend down the road (a good excuse to go back). 
Ruins inside the fishing village
Since we had time to kill and it was a beautiful day, we headed eastward to check things out, and after a few minutes of meandering down the highway, we stumbled upon our real find for the day.
An old abandoned fishing village (we'd read about it online) was tucked along the shoreline not too far from the road. I recommend an SUV if you are going to venture down to check it out, as some of the sand it pretty loose.

external wall in the fishing village,
leading to the water
We quite enjoyed exploring the old buildings and ruins. Great setting and you got that feeling like it must have an interesting history. 

The one really disappointing thing was the state of the beach at the village... completely full of litter and garbage. 
There was also lots of graffiti on the building walls within the village itself.
I do hope that this fabulous little spot is restored and preserved before too much of it is lost due to neglect or vandalism... it would be a great attraction for both the residents and tourists in Qatar.

A room inside the fishing village
I would say that if you are planning a trip to visit the fort anytime soon (call first and make sure it's gotten the displays back!), also try to find this small village and take a few minutes to walk through its ruins - it is a worthwhile pit stop.  

E and the cannon at Al Zubarah Fort

Old Fishing Village (view from the highway)

1 comment:

  1. What a shame that the ruined village is not made more of it looks so interesting.