Our Qatar Airlines flight from Melbourne to Doha left on Monday 5th September at 22:00. The Boeing 777 300 ER was jam-packed to the limit with its complement of 412 passengers. Tullamarine departure and bag-drop area was so crowded that the ‘checking-in’ process took forever.
We met up with our travelling companions, John and Janet Evans from Melbourne and at close to the appointed hour we were on our way to Doha, the capital of Qatar.
The flight for just over 14 hours was uneventful with our westward flight-path keeping up with the occurrence of nightfall as we crossed the Australian continent and headed across Sri Lanka and on towards the Persian Gulf.
We landed at Doha International Airport at around 04:30 local time on Tuesday 6th September.
What was supposedly a very brief stop at Doha proved to be much longer than expected due to our next plane to Budapest being held up because of some mechanical concerns.
We spent several hours in the vast Doha air terminal and after quite a deal of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ we eventually boarded our Airbus A320 and headed off for Hungary.
The aerial view we sighted around Doha was a bleak desert scene with a dominance of sandy barren waste with no signs of vegetation. The city of Doha is just like Dubai with gigantic sky-scrapers filling a void between the desert and the sea. The gulf countries are now feeling the pinch as their economies and subsequent wealth were created principally from ‘petro-dollars’. Qatar was previously categorised as the wealthiest country in the world on a per-capita basis.
Leaving the Qatar peninsula we then headed across the Persian Gulf taking a mid-course between Basra and Shiraz in Iran.
Our north-westerly path then took a distinct northerly turn towards Baku in Georgia so as to avoid entering into the airspace around Baghdad. From there on it was a flight-path towards Ankara and then across the Black Sea meeting land again just north of Istanbul.
Although it was too cloudy to notice we passed over the city of Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Snow capped mountains were partly visible through the cloud.
The air traffic in this region must be quite busy as on two occasions we were able to see close-by the condensation trails of other aircraft.
Our flight from Doha to Budapest took just under six hours and at this stage we were starting to feel the effects of limited ‘quality’ sleep and our body clocks telling us we should be asleep.
We acquired Hungarian forints from an airport ATM and the four of us then caught a taxi in to the centre of Budapest and we checked into our 1918 Art Deco Hotel on the banks of the Danube River.
In the late afternoon we wandered across the nearby iron Liberty Bridge and visited the famous Budapest market. This was inside a very large building and the wares on sale were principally fruit, vegetables and meat (processed salamis and fresh meats too) plus clothing and trinkets in the upstairs section.