Bill Watt is off to the World Cup in Qatar with his journo mate Bruce McDougall ... and, with a billion-dollar boat tossed in, it should prove to be quite an odyssey.
Here we go ... finally, after all the planning Bruce and I will soon be heading to the Middle East for football's World Cup.
It's already proven to be quite an adventure. There was the Socceroos' long, fraught journey to qualification, Covid worries, a Russian invasion of Ukraine and the last hurdle failure of Scotland (my country of birth) and New Zealand (Bruce's birthplace) to reach the tournament. The securing of tickets, including one agonising eight hour wait on-line, added to the crazy situation.
But with the help of good friend Varya, boss of fabulous travel group World Of Discoveries www.wofdi.com, we seem to have fallen on our feet and have a fabulous trip planned .. and, no doubt, a heap of unscripted mayhem. It should be awesome.
ARABIAN NIGHTS ... AND DAZE
We have a few days to burn in Dubai before the football action kicks off, and there's plenty to do and see.
We will venture up the crazily massive Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest man-made structure (which should be just fabulous for my vertigo) and, of course, we will hit other tourist sights including the souks (where Bruce's bargaining techniques will be tested), and no doubt sample a range of Dubai's food and drink (surprisingly alcohol can be consumed in a range of places). Meeting up with old friends is also on the agenda.
BILLION DOLLAR BOAT
We fly into Doha, Qatar's capital, a day before the Cup launches, and our accommodation should be spectacular. Somehow Varya has managed to get us a cabin each aboard the newly launched $US1.1 billion luxury cruise ship Europa World for our two weeks in Qatar. I'm looking forward to crash-dummy testing the dodgem cars on board but I'm not sure about the world's tallest on-the-waves water slide. I am also curious about our neighbours, who according to The Daily Mail, will include the wives and girlfriends (WAGs) of the English football players www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-11247549/Inside-luxury-1billion-cruise-liner-England-WAGs-live-World-Cup-Qatar.html. And, while much of Qatar is dry, the Europa World certainly is not ... thank goodness! There will also be city and desert tours, as well as football parties and Cup-linked entertainment. Oh, and I've booked a round of night golf, at the Education City Golf Club. https://www.ecgolf.com/. Golf under floodlights? Well, let's face it, my golf couldn't be any worse at night.
FESTIVAL OF FOOTBALL
Of course, football is the biggest item of the trip. We will go to all three of the Socceroos' round robin matches in Qatar (Australia vs France, Tunisia & Denmark), as well as other clashes featuring the likes of Brazil, Serbia and Canada. It will be a great achievement if the Roos manage to win at least one game and draw another. But, anything can happen. Let's hope the French aren't talking to each other, which happens sporadically in their footballing history. The Brazil v Serbia game should be a cracker, with one of my favourite former Newcastle United players - Alexandar Mitrovic - playing for Serbia as they challenge the Samba football kings!
ALL OVER RED ROVER
With the round robin games over we fly out of Football Central and head to Abu Dhabi for a couple of tourist days, before leaving the Middle East.
This trip is going to be a whole lot of fun. Join us for regular updates (well that's the plan), including what we have been getting up to; food, drink and hotel reviews; city write-ups and football match day reports.