Watch this space for the new blog on Poland.
I THINK THIS COVERS A LOT OF THEM EXCEPT TO THE FACT THAT THE COUNTRIES MENTIONED ARE GENERALLY VAGUE. ITS NOT MY OBSERVATION THOUGH!
In this blog, I would like to add some of the best apps that will help your next travel, let it be leisure or business.
The list of essential apps on your phone:
Uber: The best taxi app that I have ever seen. Be in Berlin, Amsterdam, Mumbai, or Dubai the app works seamless. In Dubai you can even book a chopper 🙂 Careem is good to go in the MiddleEast.
Google Translate: Just download the app and the best function of the app using the camera to translate the words by pointing your camera on to the words or sentence is just amazing.
Moments is a great app to save all you photos on the cloud and you can save all the photos and don’t worry about your phone memory capacity. It can also share and create albums if you are in a group. No more sending pictures back and forth.
Booking.com has an app for mobile phone which is the best way to book your tickets. You can book hotels, hostels, or motels via the app.
LMT deals shows the best last minute deals in town but does not allow you to book in advance. It shows just the left over rooms for today or tomorrow. If you are a backpacker, give it a try. Not recommended when the city is full due to an event or a peak season.
Couchsurfing community is amazing. You can stay with another surfer and it gives you the amazing opportunity to stay with a local and learn local cultures and make new friends while you travel.
Backpackr.org is a great app if you are a solo traveller and looking to meet other travellers who are likeminded.
AirBnB allows you to book bed and break fast from your mobile phone. In most cases the rooms are cheap and its not a hotel, just a home away from home.
Google maps allows you to save your hotel. It is also a great app to show the categories of interest in your area. Say, if you are looking for a place to hangout or eat, it can show you the best places around. The google earth feature even gives you the freedom of virtually visiting the place before you physically go there.
Waze allows you to navigate in case you are driving and in most cases it has been accurate than any other inbuilt car navigation systems. The traffic is real time as the data is captured from fellow waze users.
Shazam can identify the music that sounds great and you have no clue of the language or the artist. Just save it to your Shazam and then listen it over when you reach back. Sometimes it takes you back to the trip or the good times abroad. On an iPhone you can just ask the Siri and it identifies your music via Shazam.
Skype would be great for talking to your friends and family.
Instagram will allow you to post the best shots you clicked.
Facebook live is a great way to show your friends and family in realtime as a video. The feature is available to most users by now and getting rolled out to all users in the coming weeks.
WhatsApp allows you to keep in touch with your friends and allows most people to get rid of roaming call charges. The voice quality is amazing compared to other VoIP applications. Though some countries like UAE has restricted voice calls on WhatsApp and you won’t be able to make calls.
Other local apps for laundry services can help you save time and money on the expensive hotel laundries. WashNOW in Qatar is a great example of a local laundry app like the Washio app in the US.
Other tips: Wallet on iPhone does some great job by saving all your boarding passes and invitations in one place. You don’t have to carry paper anymore.
I recently was trying to google before my Umrah by road from Qatar. It was found that most of the information are outdated.
BEFORE YOU GO:
Before you go I would recommend you check if you have a UMRAH VISA, the car is registered under your name with no hypothecation to any banks. If your car is hypothecated to any bank, you need to get a NOC from the bank. Most banks issue a letter on terms. Some banks like Khaleeji get a security cheque from a Qatari or you keep a security deposit of the amount you owe them, all depends on bank terms.
If you are on visit visa, you will need a reentry permit. Easily availed at any immigration service center paying 200 QR.
Make sure you do a car service and check all your tires, coolant, engine oils, belts, etc..
The less luggage you have, the more comfortable you are. You may carry some snacks and tiffin with sufficient water in case you got kids.
ON THE GO:
Distance to be covered is Doha to Makkah 1550 Kms, approximately takes 18 hours driving. Very straight forward; Doha to Riyadh via Hufoof. Riyadh to Makkah. Makkah to Medina is around 4.5 hours of drive around 450 Kms. Medina to Doha is 1800 Kms via Buraidah and Riyadh.
From Doha to Riyadh is pretty deserts with sand dunes on both sides. Riyadh to Makkah route has some mountains and ghat sections. Recently most of the ghat sections are modified to straight roads by crushing the mountains. You will have great views on both sides; mountains with black and red rocks, camels, farms, etc..
Our first destination would be Meekath at Taif.
It is always great to expect surprises on the express way.
Roads are good.
Never let your tank fuel go half tank, make sure it is always full. Refill petrol once it comes down to 3/4 the tank.
There are a lot of motels in between Doha and Makkah but most of them are either dirty or not at all maintained.
Better to keep a speed of 160 and be on the middle track as you would find Saudi cars flying on the left track. Trucks maintain a speed of avg 120 kph and it is advised not to drive on the right track in a lesser speed where overtaking by a truck are real cause of accidents.
Meekath for people coming from Doha is at Taif.
You have decent place there for shower and to wear Ihram. You can also perform your prayers at the mosque. Ladies will have separate entrance. You will be able to purchase items like belts, sandals etc.. from the stalls near by. There are also book stalls that give away free stuffs for better understanding.
ONCE YOU REACH MAKKAH:
Once reaching Makkah, be sure that you make your routes understood before entering tunnels. The city is accessed via tunnels and GPS don’t work except you have a tunnel mode in it.
Parking would be an issue and some hotels they charge for parking. The place near Masjid Haram would have little place to park your car. I advise that you park your car in safe custody and walk to mosque and back during the days you stay at Makkah.
Visiting places like Rahma Mountain, Noor Mountain, Arafa grounds, and other sacred mosque is sunnah and shall be done if you have a guide who accompanies you with a tour. They charge you from 100 SR to 150 SR. Most hotels arrange private people according to your language and nationality.
Make sure you wear throw-away sandals when you go to the mosque as I have lost my sandals almost every time I kept it outside. You would be able to carry your sandals into the mosque and they have carry bags at the entrance.
In case of people with any disability or with children, there are porters who help you with Tawaaf and at Safa Marwa. They charge you 50 SR.
Basic OTC meds like painkillers, fever tabs etc..
Extra pairs of slippers.
A small bag that can be carried easily by having tied with you to carry money, mobile etc..
Best application for GPS would be “copilot”. Available on apple and android.
App called Umrah will guide you step by step with prayers and rituals.
Carry cash and not always depend on cards as most of them do not accept cards or Qatari Riyals. Better you have some Saudi Riyals.
Hotels range from 150 above and an average of 250 is tagged for a decent one. Booking.com provides good rates.
Zam sam water is available and recommended to be bought only from the authorized. They have special package for air carriage if in case you need to take it on flight from Doha back home.
MAKKAH TO MADEENA:
Makkah to Madeena is again an express way which usually is a busy road comparing to the other ones that we came across. You will find decent places in between to stop for prayers and food.
The radiant city or the Madeena-th-Nabi (pbuh) means the city of prophet.
Madeena has a lot of historic places and it would be better if you read a about the history before you come. Most sacred mosques in Madeena got some history and your guide should be able to explain them. Quba Mosque, Nabavi mosque, Qiblatain mosque and many more to visit and these are the oldest mosques in Islam.
Burial of Mohammed (pbuh) is at Masjid Nabavi. You must pay a visit. Quite often people become sentimental at this moment in time.
Again hotels are not that expensive and better you stay near Masjid Nabavi as there are certain times that women can visit the burial place of prophet. Its after Isha prayers till mid night and from Fajr till sunrise.