How did I land in this alternate universe?
5 minutes prior I digested seeing authentic gondolas and pristine canals inside of a Middle Eastern mall.
Then I heard men crashing into what was obviously a hockey rink wall.
But 2 minutes prior to that I spied a ferris wheel and go kart racing. In the same mall. The mall with a monstrously-sized Carrefour and fast food joints and lovely restaurants and VIP bathrooms – don’t ask – and whimsy pink chairs and parking attendants who readily wash your car and the mall sits a few hundred yards from the Over The Top, epic-awesome, balls to the wall Torch hotel and a few blocks from an exotic-looking soccer stadium being built for World Cup 2022.
Being in The Villagio in Doha is like seeing what Tony Stark would do if given free reign to design a mall.
Our friends suggested we visit this Venice-themed mall. Given it’s a 40 minute walk from the manse we hopped on over during our 2 day in Doha.
The impressive backdrop of the 1,000 foot tall Torch hotel (which does in fact replicate a torch, with fire-like lighting topping the torch-shaped architecture) and one of the massive stadiums being built for the World Cup sets the tone for the place.
On walking inside you are met with a collection of gondolas – similar to Venetian gondolas (go figure!) – and a clean, pristine canal (probably much cleaner than in Venice) which runs in between stores.
Bridges give mall goers crossing points in certain spots. And the aforementioned whimsy chairs appear beside the canal at one particular point. By the VIP bathroom. Very Important Pooper?
The Hockey Rink
For reasons unknown, photos and video of the hockey rink are prohibited. Believe me. It exists. In the middle of the food court. A minute away from the Venetian style canals and gondola rides. Yes rides are offered for a modest fee.
Kelli and I spied a minor league hockey match going on. Looks like some skilled Qatari slapping around the puck these days. I imagine they did not practice much in the 125 degree conditions during hotter months in an outdoor setting.
As our heads were spinning I found it comical to stumble upon a ferris wheel, go kart track and mini amusement park. In the same mall.
Being far from tacky, this meld of luxury, opulence and “let’s just throw a bunch of fun stuff inside an air conditioned place for when temperatures reach 120 degrees every day” type attitude makes for an enjoyable, fascinating, truly one of a kind mall that has not been replicated on God’s green earth.
From the second floor faux store fronts eerily reminiscent of Venetian architecture and design to the blue skies and light clouds painted onto the ceilings in select spots to healthy-sized food court and requisite mall shops, this place has a charming quality to it.
Factor in the convenience of being able to step inside a human pop-sicle factory when Satan himself would bitch about the heat and humidity and ya got an epic spot well worth a visit when you happen upon Doha, Qatar.
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Have you been to Qatar?
Or the Villaggio Mall?
If you want an entertaining audio book listen…..