Three a Day is Enough

Three a Day is Enough

Arab headdresses on sale in Qatar.

It's now day five of my visit, and I have settled in. Getting around now is no problem with the metro, and my accommodation is handily situated.

Heading towards games everyone seems to take the metro as it is fast and convenient. Five of the five stadiums have one nearby. The three that don't all begin with Al, Al Bayt, Al Janoub and Al Thumama. So when you are planning to get there the Al stands for "Always late". You will have a bus journey from the metro and then the traditional 15 minutes walk to the stadium.

On the way back this situation is a recipe for disaster. Everyone is funnelled away from the stadium, but in the same direction. On the way to the games people's arrival times vary from 4 hours before the game, afterwards everyone leaves at the same time. I figured out from the very first match that it made sense to find an alternative way back. I have heard of people waiting for an hour and forty minutes after the match to enter the metro. I found there were bus services to several destinations, these included some of the fan villages and Souq Waqif, an area fifteen minutes away from where I was staying. Ideal.

Budweiser Zero.

The organizers also provide a bus after the game to the next game. I had read about this service, and then seen that they were not going to do this but I saw signs on day one indicating this would be in place.

I took this bus after the Argentina v Saudi Arabia match, heading for Stadium 974 to see Mexico v Poland. I wanted to get there as soon as possible as I was meeting an old Mexican friend. Whilst on the bus I received a message from him saying that one of his group (there were five of them) wouldn't make the match as his flight from Dubai had been delayed.

The dilemma now was that they did not want his ticket to go to waste. The tickets are mobile, but his ticket could only be sent back to the person that purchased the ticket. Yes, you guessed, that's me. So I asked him to do that. Whilst on the bus I had already started talking to some Mexicans, and then found that one was looking for a ticket. So we had two problems. The first was the ticket, the second was the exchange of money, because no one carries money these days.

I by now was aware of major problems with the ticketing website, but reassured my new Mexican friend that I would sort the ticket. My friend, Manuel who had the ticket, however, sent me a series of messages saying that the app does not work, and that he could not transfer it. I had a solution. They would go in the first check point together. Then Manuel would walk him to his gate, scan the ticket in, and from there he would just need a photo of the ticket to find his seat. Easy.

Drinks in hospitality.

When Manuel, eventually arrived, there was less than an hour to kick off. He started telling me that the app did not work, I told him not to worry I had it sorted. Then he exclaimed it's working and stated that he wanted to send me the ticket. I said there was no need. But he clearly did not want any responsibility. So he pressed the button to transfer the ticket to me.

Remember, I already know the app does not work properly, but Manuel was happy. So I now waited to receive the ticket….. nothing came. Thankfully I received an email advising of the transfer and with this headed to the ticketing centre, where I explained our dilemma. They understood and gave us a paper ticket with the details of the seat, block, row, seat, written on by hand.

That sorted the ticket. Just now I am still waiting for my money, but I may have found somewhere to stay in Dallas in four years time!

Mexican fan in Qatar.

The ticket arrived in my account at 7 am the next morning, 12 hours after the game.

I knew that messing about with tickets would be a problem. So was pleased that I had all my tickets in my name on one account. Lesson leant.

Next day I was at Al Bayt and then Al Thumama. I got the Stadium to Stadium bus and arrived in plenty of time. For this game Spain v Costa Rica I was invited to Hospitality by a friend. So I sold the ticket I had on the FIFA resale site. Food and drink was freely available, no prawn sandwiches in sight. My friend mentioned that he was going to the next game immediately after this one!

As I had two drinks, I immediately got on the FIFA website. As I had sold my ticket for this game I could buy one for the next game.

In order to make the last game of the day, we left 15 minutes early. We headed for the taxi rank, on the way we saw locals offering us a lift for the price of 200 riyals. We declined and decided to go to the official pick up point. When we got there it was chaos and time was ticking. We were going to get an Uber but there was a five minute wait. With time of the essence my friend just decided we should take the first thing available to get on our way.

We were ushered into a taxi and his opening words were "I don't understand, but I'll understand when we get there". As we tried to check our arrival time and price.

Of course when we got there he showed us his meter and it said 475 riyals! 

Of course we were not paying that so he locked the taxi doors and phoned his boss.

974 Stadium.

We settled on the 200 that we had been quoted earlier by the first person we spoke to.

My next dilemma was the ticket. The purchase went through at 18.26, but the ticket had not appeared in my app. With last night's experience I knew exactly what to do. I logged into my account and took screen shots of the relevant information, and headed once again to the ticketing centre. They took some convincing but I had everything, and they and I knew the site does not work properly. They said I should log out. I told them that there is a risk with that and that I may not be able to log back in. Whilst they were watching I attempted to log out. It failed, it wouldn't let me. They immediately printed out a ticket for me.

Next I had to get past security I have had the same things with me at all the games, so I was surprised when they asked to look in my bag. In it was my phone, camera and a battery charger. They were not interested in them, they said there was something else in the bag. I dug deep and found a pen, an ordinary biro. I said I could see their  problem…" the pen is mightier than the sword" they laughed and let me in.

Three games in a day is hard work. Tomorrow I am on the move to the Fan Village.

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© Ross Clegg &

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