Happy New Year!

Trip Start Jan 01, 2009
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Where I stayed

Flag of Bahrain  ,
Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy new year, everyone! Now, back to my life ...

Somehow our 35 minute flight from Doha to Manama, Bahrain took up most of our day. Once we were up we checked out the buffet breakfast at our hotel in Doha. It was magnificent! They had delicious pastries, fresh fruits, cheeses, cold cuts, smoked salmon, etc. And once we were seated with our stack of chocolate-filled baked goods a server asked if we wanted to order anything else! So I added some scrambled eggs.

After I ate as much as I could, we finished packing our bags then checked out of the hotel and waited for our ride to the airport. Once at the airport we were quickly checked in for the flight and then we did a little duty free shopping. We found some tobacco for Wolfi's new shisha and I got myself something to remember Qatar by.

Our flight was incredibly fast in time, but seemed to go on forever. Mostly because of the three drunk guys sitting in the seats directly behind us, still drunk from the night before and talking loudly and vulgarly.

The flight hosts served us a snack while other passengers boarded. Then we were lifting off and just as the plane started to straighten out from lift off, the pilot got on the PA and announced we were 80km from Bahrain airport and would be landing shortly.

Once back on the ground on the small island kingdom of Bahrain, we got instant visas at the passport control and continued out the doors and into the sunshine. We got a taxi driver instantly; a small Arabian man wearing the traditional long white shirt and red and white headdress. He was a sweet little old man until he started driving. Then he started shaking his head at other drivers, making "tsk" noises at them, and mumbling Arabic in an angry tone. At one point a massive SUV pulled up into the left turn lane beside us and pulled into the intersection, on a red light, and nosed the SUV into our path. He told us this is the problem with the Saudi drivers. The light turned green and the Saudi SUV zoomed off in front of us. We passed it moments later, as the sweet old man was also hard on the gas pedal.

Our hotel is nice but far from all the action. After we checked in, we decided to go for a walk. I had picked up a map in the airport which was very useful. We headed towards the souqs that looked within walking distance. In fact it took us almost an hour to walk to them, but it was an enjoyable walk.

The souq in Manama is completely different than the wonderful Souq Waqif we so frequently visited in Doha. Here, the souq has none of the style, flashiness, or appeal, but it has a ton of character to make up for it. The narrow lanes are already made tight with the stands of goods overflowing out of the shops onto the pavement, and once you add the crowds of people it becomes pretty challenging to navigate through.

We got pulled into a few shops. One man grabbed Wolfi and dressed him in the red and white head scarf. He even put on the long white shirt. Then he got me all dolled up too, and then tried to sell us the clothes. We laughed and asked exactly what we should do with the clothes once we bought them. If it was a few dollars I would have been more willing because at least they would make fun costumes when the opportunity arises. But he wanted 19 dinars, which is about 60 CHF for the two outfits. Yikes! But since he took a few photos for us I decided to look around the store and find something a little more usable to buy.

The shops here are more for the locals. There are certainly the tourist shops, but in the lanes you see spices, nuts, vegetables, cheap everyday clothing. The smells are wonderful. Doha smelled of fruity smoke drifting from shishas, but here the souq smells of rich and flavourful spices and mystery food being cooked just out of our view.

We spent a considerable amount of time shopping before our bodies were done with walking. Then we made the long walk back to our hotel. I barely made it!
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TL on

Nice digs guys!

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