History, culture, camels…my afternoon in Bahrain chronicled.
The Maldives to Bahrain, with a few stops in between. It was an interesting route, one that would take me completely around the world in less than two weeks, but somehow it all made sense. Between every flight being direct (once I made it to the Maldives), the fact I was able to clean up some regions by visiting some “stragglers” I’d missed, and a convenient overnight layover in Kuwait, this itinerary was solid gold.
Bahrain was the last stop before heading home. I was tired, but happy; happy I’d succeeded to complete another fast-paced and jam packed journey, without missing a flight, or destination. I know I’m bound to strike out on these days, but so far, so good. Maldives to Sri Lanka to Bangladesh to Kuwait to Bahrain. It doesn’t seem like it’d make much sense on paper, but the itinerary turned out absolutely perfect and I bagged five new nations to my “country counting” mission.
*What I mean by “clean up some regions,” is to see the last country(ies) in a region that I’d been to previously. For example, while I’d been to India before, I had missed Sri Lanka. By seeing Sri Lanka, I’m finally able to say that I have “finished” that region. (Sri Lanka was taunting me!) Of course I’ll surely come back to many of these places and stay longer, but it felt good to be able to look at my travel map and see the entire region shaded in, and checked off!
Bahrain would be the quickest of all my stops. I wouldn’t even spend the night here. I landed at 10:15AM and would be wheels up at 1AM tonight. Would I have liked to at least spend the night here? Of course! But I work full-time and in my quest to see all 193 countries…soon…I have to use my days off wisely and strategically. Plus, I’d heard from fellow travelers that Bahrain can be enjoyed in just half a day, so if there was any place to see for just a few hours, Bahrain was it. Lucky for me, I’d find a driver who’d show me all of the important stuff in one afternoon.
Livin’ for the City (Centre)
The Le Méridien City Centre was a great pick. Not only was it extremely nice, but it was connected to the City Centre Mall, which was a nice surprise. I’d explore the mall later, but for now, it was time to hit the town. The clock was ticking. I was a little tired, being it the end of my journey and all, and that bed sure looked tempting…but I needed to see what Bahrain was all about. Out the door I flew.
Guess What Day It Is???
I love animals. All of ’em. Except spiders. They can die. So when I pulled up the trusty “Bahrain To Do” list on Google and say the Royal Camel Market was open to the public–and better yet, free to enter–I knew that would be my first stop. I hailed a car outside the front doors of my hotel and we were off.
There were signs all around that warned not to get too close to the camels. But I couldn’t resist. After all, they were out in the open. And I saw children feeding the behemoths, so that gave me a somewhat sense of security. I’m going in…
It was time to see more animals! Our next stop, the Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve. My driver joined me for a walk through the property. I enjoyed the giant bird house we were able to enter, along with the outdoor pens and a large, cooled, indoor viewing area with glass windows looking into the animals’ areas. The park wasn’t very crowded, which I liked; and I enjoyed strolling from exhibit to exhibit…it was very peaceful.
Boiling in Bahrain
It was a hot day, and this was only April. I couldn’t imagine what July would be like. Oh wait, yes I can–I grew up in Arizona. I don’t miss the heat. I ducked into a convenient store for some refreshment, and then it was back in the car.
Next up was a stop at the oldest mosque in Bahrain: Al Khamis. It’s considered to be one of the oldest mosques in the entire region, with its foundation believed to have been laid as early as 692 AD. Only its foundation, walls and minarets stand today.
There was only one other person exploring the property when I arrived; it was nice to be able to visit such a historic site without mobs of people interrupting my vibe. It really was peaceful. I couldn’t even begin to imagine everything that’s happened over time in the area I was standing. What a treat.
My awesome, albeit expensive driver wanted to take me other places, but I was fading fast. I’m always warn out towards the end of my trips and by 3:30PM, I was hot, hungry and a little tired. Okay, a lot tired. I wanted to rest for a bit and then go hunt for food in the mall at my hotel. That may sound super uncultured, but I was beat–a common theme on the last destination of just about all my trips–plus I wouldn’t sleep in a bed tonight; I’d have to leave for the airport later. My driver dropped me back at the hotel and I paid him, about US$140. It was definitely worth it, after all, he drove me all around the spread-out capital and accompanied me into all the stops. Manama is not a “walkable” capital.
After resting for a bit, I headed out into the mall for food, and ended up at a really cool restaurant in the middle of the mall–a courtyard out in the open, where I enjoyed fresh juice and the “Gulf Pizza,” with shrimp and greens. I even contemplated visiting the attached waterpark (I am such a sucker for a waterpark), but frankly I was too tired to have enjoyed it, maybe next time. Plus, my summer body was not ready. I do regret not getting to experience a Middle Eastern waterpark, but I was spent.
I was able to sneak in a 90-minute nap before packing up my stuff and heading to the airport. It was time to say goodbye.
Bahrain was clean, organized, and very chill. The city was spread out and you definitely need a car to explore. I wished I’d had more time to see the beach; we flew over some gorgeous waters on the flight in. There were some really cool looking buildings around town I wanted to get a closer look at too–with giant murals of people, royalty, I presumed. I would have liked to hit the waterpark, maybe another mall, and definitely a souk or two. But time was not on my side this trip. I do feel I got to see most of the highlights of Bahrain, and for this I am thankful. Until next time Middle East, I’ve almost got you covered! Lebanon, Syria, Yeman and Oman are all that’s left, and I’m busy planning those now! See you there!
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