A reunion in bustling Bahrain
Most bloggers would apologise for their absence at this point but I am really “sorry, not sorry”! I know I was missed because I received such beautiful, heartwarming comments from my readers wishing my husband and I a good time together. Oh and stats were booming while I was away too… thanks guys! Fox arrived in the Middle East 2 weeks ago and we spent some much-needed quality time together. There was some of this:
And some of this:
In summation, it was AMAZING. Although I have the duvet to myself again, I am feeling a bit sad since he left especially every time my eyes pass over my clothes drying rack and I see all of the t-shirts he forgot in my washing machine! Anyhow, the next few blog posts are going to be a bit cathartic for me, in order to ease the sadness so bear with me while I relive the past few weeks through my blog. In true Panda & Fox style, we spent most of our time adventuring, exploring, eating and laughing.
Fox flew from Durban and because he needed the ORIGINAL visa in order to enter Kuwait (the one I had to apply for therefore I had it with me in Kuwait… where is the logic?), we decided to meet somewhere and have a little getaway before I introduced him to my life in Kuwait. We both arrived in the small island of Bahrain and met in the immigration queue to enter this little country. I’ll spare you the details of our reunion but needless to say, the person behind us in the queue wasn’t impressed with us!
Of course, the one weekend that I decided to go to Bahrain, the weather was simply AWFUL. A heavy mist covered the country and heavy rains had left the roads flooded. We had rented a car in advance and immediately regretted it when we stepped out of the airport and saw the condition of the roads. Oh well!
With the weather being a hindrance, we abandoned our itinerary for the day and decided to eat our day away. A lot of our time in Bahrain was spent trying to navigate using google maps, who would tell us that we had “arrived at our destination” however, all we could see was roadworks and scaffolding.
Our first stop was the super cute Cafe Lilou for lunch. Of course we were way too hungry to take photos of our main meal but here is a picture of decadent dessert:
Just look at the lovely decor of this cafe:
After which, we promptly had a food coma and headed back to our hotel. I am usually more of a budget traveler but since Fox and I were reuniting after far too long, I splurged and booked us in at a luxurious hotel. The view from the Novotel Dana Resort looked something like this…
Our first day in Bahrain ended with a disappointing visit to the Manama souk where we found that at 20:30, downtown Bahrain basically shuts down… most of the souk stalls were closed or were in the process of closing up and the streets were super quiet. I was pretty surprised… in Kuwait and in Qatar, the souk is most lively between 8 and 9pm!
Anyway, we headed out to the Ritz Carlton for a late supper at this super funky Mexican restaurant called Cantina Kahlo. I highly recommend their mocktail margaritas which aren’t actually on the menu! (Side note: if you told me a year ago I would be able to afford a meal at the Ritz bloody Carlton, I would NOT have believed you.)
Day 2 in Bahrain seemed more promising as I looked out the window and saw clear skies. The morning involved a bit of beach and pool activity (of course!).
After checking out of the hotel, we headed for brunch at Riffa Fort. Brunch at Saffron was wonderful but the fort… not so impressive.
It was small with nothing much to see.
Disappointed again, we made our way to Al Areen Wildlife Park. For 1BD, we were allowed entry and after a few minutes I regretted our entry. This was no wildlife park, this was a zoo. Large predators like lions and tigers were crammed into tiny enclosures… it was awful. I was so sad!
Fox did get to hold a falcon though so he was pleased but I was most certainly not. As a person from South Africa, many school holidays were spent going on safaris and/or exploring game reserves. I grew up seeing animals in their natural habitat and I can’t bear to see large animals contained in small rooms.
Feeling a bit down, we headed to the famous Bahrain International Circuit with the intention of doing some go-karting but with the wind suddenly becoming very cold and intense, we decided to give it a skip. Fox got a chance to admire some fancy cars from a distance at the track but other than that, it was a fairly unimpressive attraction. I’m sure it’s wonderful when there is an event but when there isn’t… it can be missed.
With the weather acting up again, and our list of things to do dwindling at a swift rate, we headed to City Centre Bahrain to do some shopping. Since shopping is a legitimate Middle Eastern pastime (one that Fox LOVES unlike this panda) I decided that Fox might as well experience it!
But a mall in Bahrain is the same as a mall in Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and even South Africa so we just had a quick bite to eat at IHop and then just made our way to the airport.
I think Bahrain is best for a 2-3 day getaway when you just fancy a change of scenery and want to do nothing more than eat and relax at your resort’s beach. Or perhaps you just need your alcohol fix and can’t face the bright lights of Dubai so you head toward to Manama. Yes Bahrain has freely available alcohol and there are plenty of clubs and bars to keep you occupied if that’s your scene. People in Bahrain dress a lot less conservatively than they do in Kuwait as well so you can pack your shorts if you are headed there. I think I just had the bad luck to go on the one weekend that there was bad weather but hopefully I will be able to make another trip there during my time in the GCC.
Fox was completely underwhelmed by Bahrain (understandably so) and in a way, I felt like this worked in my favour. This meant that his expectations for Kuwait would be pretty low and that he might have a better time there! Did I mention how great it was to be reunited with my husband? In case it isn’t coming through, here is another pic to demonstrate:
Next post will detail Fox’s time in Kuwait so keep your eyes peeled!
P.S. The places I visited are all hyperlinked in the above post if you need more information!
P.P.S Visas to Bahrain are very easy to apply for and obtain via their exceptionally efficient evisa website whether you are a GCC resident or not.