The few pics I grab are aggravating in the extreme. The camera is refusing to turn on after being turned off unless I take the battery out each time, and during one such time I somehow disconnect the hinge that keeps the battery in place anyway. God damn it! I'm feeling so down about everything at this moment, and message Helen to tell her my camera woes, before making a concerted effort to at least fix the hinge back in place. I do so, and from that point on the camera behaves itself for the rest of the day. Fine. Good. Phew.
There are information points lining the route but I stop to read none of them. I don't feel particularly able to take in any history or culture, I just want to clear my head, get some exercise, kill some time, and see if I can get the hang of this 12mm lens.
In common with those other places, there's a long pedestrianised bit full of swanky looking eateries and stuff. I keep going to the end, where there's an art museum and sculpture park. I'm not going inside, but the park is nice enough.
In the terminal I take my suitcase to the business class bag drop, which is verrrry slow, and the service not that friendly. I am however given cardboard boarding passes, to go along with the version on my phone and the paper copies I printed out back home. These new ones come in a fancy wallet though, marking me out for the bourgeois fuck I am.
There's fast track boarding which is actually just a shortcut to the front of the regular queue, and the staff are meant to bark at the proles and beckon me forward instead. That's very uncomfortable. But this security aisle is clearly closing soon and there are only 4 people left in the queue so I am happy to wait for them to go through. A member of staff tells me I'm allowed to queue jump and I explain the above. Unfortunately, then someone else fast-tracky joins behind me so suddenly we're both being shunted through in front of the old woman to our right. Sigh.
The bag with all the camera gear sets off the alarm for secondary inspection but otherwise it's quick and efficient, unlike my attempts to find the lounge. I'm sure I read that the OSL lounge is the wrong side of some barrier, in a "don't go through too early as you can't get back out to the lounge" kinda way. So I walk around, failing to find signs to it, until I get a map that says it's beyond the customs barrier. Hmm, OK then. Turns out it is, but it's not beyond passport control. Right.
The world's worst theme park comes and goes, and then there's a big spot for wheelchairs you can borrow. That's very cool.
The gate says boarding, but nobody's boarding. There's already a fairly long queue at the fast track bit. I get some more exercise by pacing nervously back and up down the corridor. It really is nerves too. Why am I nervous?
On my third pass of the gate, people really are boarding and I stroll through, getting a personal greeting on the airbridge as "Mr Darren". I'm just behind Mr Pontius. He has a better name than me, but doesn't get a welcome back like I did. So there.
Onboard I walk to seat 3A and the nerves start to go away. There's a hard Brics amenty kit there already, plus blanket and cushion, big screen TV, all that jazz. I do like this stuff.
There's a bottle of water in the aisle-side armrest, which requires use of the controls to operate. The USB socket is for connectivity only, and doesn't provide power. This is enormously frustrating.
The vaguest memory of how the Russian alphabet works helps me navigate to the bit where I can put it in English, but wow this handset is sluggish and bad. If I had to guess I'd say it's some form of Android, but the touch screen really sucks and the software doesn't seem that much better. Nonetheless I manage to get Rampage going, just as they come hand me the booze and food menus.
Back watching the screen, Rampage is preposterous from the first scene AND with airline censorship making me laugh even more. Whoever they got to dub over The Rock whenever he swears sounds nothing like The Rock and should shut the hell up...except for how entertaining it is. Throughout the film I also find myself wishing that The Rock was always cast as a character called The Rock who referred to himself in third person the whole time. Can't really see a downside to this movie, or any of his others, were he to do that, can you?
With a plot thin enough that missing a minute here or there matters little, I'm able to mess around getting blurry unimpresisve photos of Norway.
Some weird fish thing as an appetizer. Dunno what it was, wasn't on the menu. This photo is terrible. The bread was nice.
This is more like it. It's Arabic mezze starter, and very very nutty. It comes with some out-of-shot mini pitta bread type things. Because there's three I think I'm entitled to say nom, nom, and nom.
The main is a fantastic chicken with rice, also Arabic so I'm told. Not really sure what's so Arabic about it.
"You asked for the cake, right?" I'm asked. "Actually I asked for the cheese AND cake, because I'm greedy" is my response. So here comes the cheese, and grapes, and quince, and crackers.
And then this magnificent chocolate cake with cream that's in danger of spilling towards me. During each course I've been topped up with champagne, so much so I fail to order a glass of port. Damn it.
Circling over Doha proper we land and I am still yet to receive a landing card to fill out. Surely there are landing cards required? Nope, apparently not. That's weird, to me at least. Anyway, as our descent gets really quite low the map on my screen suddenly turns into this, like, high-res scan of a military satellite map or something.
Doha Hamad airport isn't big enough for all the flights it serves, so a significant proportion of them just park up somewhere remote and you have to get a bus to the terminal. That's the case for us, and the bus takes TWENTY DAMN MINUTES because (a) it's a long way (b) we get stuck in a traffic jam. What? How is this a thing?
Inside the terminal, transfers is a zoo but no-one is heading to arrivals except me – but when I get there, there are tons of people queuing up. Looking confused works wonders, as a man sees my shiny wallet and says "business class? You can just proceed to the lounge sir".
Sure enough, there's a special business/first class lounge for arrival passengers with its own immigration desk. This is also where you pick up the voucher if you're staying in the affiliated hotel, and I end up being the only person in the queue not clutching one. Immigration takes a while though, but that's OK because it means I get to get connected to wifi plus talk to Helen.
Beyond the luggage carousels I fire up Uber and there are numerous drivers just a couple of minutes ago. The app does that thing where it says "Oh, you're at such-and-such airport, here's how things work there" and mentions east and west car parking. I see no signs to either and figure, y'know what, there's an arrivals lounge. How about I go there, get a diet coke, have a piss, and then ask someone where to catch my Uber.
The receptionist is hugely friendly and welcomes me to the arrivals lounge. Upstairs there is no-one. Not a soul. No staff, no punters, no-one. Just me. So obviously I wander around taking a bunch of photos of all the stuff.