So I'm currently in the Paris airport hanging out for a few hours until my next 10 hr flight to Dallas, and another 4 hrs to San Diego.
I am still on cloud nine after being able to see Ryan for a few days :) I couldn't tell anyone or post on social media really for gov't security reasons.. top secret! But, excited to share everything with you guys now and give advice to anyone traveling to the Middle East in the future!
So I went to visit the hubs in Manama, capital of BAHRAIN. Bahrain is a small Arabian country on the west coast of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. Being close to Saudi Arabia where alcohol is illegal, most people come to Bahrain on the weekends if ya know what I'm sayin.
It is HOT. Like smack you in the face and make you close your eyes when you go outside hot.. you know?
From extremely hot in the summer months (like 150°F !!!!) to like 80°-90°F in the cooler months which they call "good weather." It was over 100° every day I was there and everyone was like "you came when it's starting to get nice!" .... what.
Anyway, Bahrain actually has a US Military base there where people are stationed and live there for years at a time. We have a few friends stationed there now. Bahrain is known for their markets where you can get cheap(ish) gold, custom tailored suits, and handmade rugs. None of which we got :/ lol
The country is pretty small.. it's an island and you can pretty much do all the "tourist" stuff in one day if you wanted to.
Al Fateh Mosque
The Mosque, also called the Great Al Fateh Mosque and Islamic Center Al Fateh, is the biggest Mosque in Bahrain which can hold up to 7,000 people at one time. It is free to the public on weekdays (Sunday-Monday), their "weekend" is Thursday-Saturday, and a tour guide will tell you history and the religious background of the mosque and muslim culture. They will give both men & women dresses to cover up with and women a scarf to do your headdress for you.
Very amazing experience and would definitely recommend visiting with respect to other beliefs and cultures.
Royal Camel Farm
This was by far my favorite of all the places. I mean baby.. camels... Need I say more?? We had a driver from the hotel take us to the Royal Camel Farm (after going to the Tree of Life - see below) kind of last minute like I guess we'll go there and it was THE BEST. There were hundreds of camels! Again, totally free to the public. You just drive up and walk in and go hang out with these camels lol. There was no other people there when we were so the camel-keeper (??) let us feed some baby camels (9 months) and took us to see a newborn camel (a few weeks old)!!! Who actually started walking for the first time when we were in the pen! It was so cute with little peach fuzz everywhere and went straight for the mama camel to start nursing. So freaking cool.
Tree of Life
So I found this attraction online and was fascinated by the story! Basically this tree is over 400 years old in the middle of NO WHERE in the desert and no body knows how it is still living, because there is no known source of water.
That is exactly it too, we went about 45 minutes through the desert passing only industrial factories and oil factories to get there and see this amazing tree alive and well! We were the only ones there and it was very cool to take it all in.
The Gold Souq
The Bahrain Gold Souq is a marketplace known for their gold shops, custom tailored suits, and handmade silk rugs. They have literally anything you could every want to buy though. A whole indoor mall as well as the small outside shops that we walked around in. Gold is everywhere. Like full streets of different gold shops next door to one another. Everyone was super nice too, telling us where to go for the highest quality gold and anything we were looking for. We didn't end up buying anything, but it was definitely cool to see the major shopping area.
So Ryan had already done research and talked to fellow friends who had stayed in the area so he knew he wanted us to stay at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain. It was sooo gorgeous. Like breathtaking. The hotel has a fitness center (men & women work out separately in Bahrain), spa center, 7+ restaurants, pool, 3+ bars... all INSIDE the hotel. We basically didn't have to leave if we didn't want to. Also, if you are an AMEX Platinum card holder, you have access to a special elevator to take you up to a secret floor with free breakfast, lunch snacks, appetizers, and happy hour every day! We utilized this perk the most.
THE MEAT CO.
The Meat Company was by far one of the nicest dining restaurants I've ever been to... no lie. We ordered a appetizer platter (where you choose 3 of any appetizers) which included beef carpaccio, scallops with mushroom risotto, and the ribs. I totally thought since it was a 'choose 3 kind of deal', they would be smaller versions of each... lol NOPE. I was totally full after just the appetizers. We went on to split a chateaubriand steak (Ryan's favorite) with potatoes and veggies, and a bottle of wine of course. If I wasn't about to roll out of the door already, Ryan ordered the dessert TOWER. Like not one dessert, ALL of the desserts haha. omggggg. So good though. 10/10 would recommend if you're ready to $plurge.
The Foundry is a super hipster restaurant is another good steak place. Kind of hard to find because it is a small door on the outside then you enter and go up to the restaurant through an elevator! The top is all open windows with a cool view of the city. Their happy hour is 2 for 1 cocktail drinks which we took advantage of ;) before ordering another chateaubriand steak, side of asparagus, and side of jalapeño mac-n-cheese (highly recommended).
The shawarma alley is a whole street of restaurants that specialize in shawarma. Think New York pizza spots... a greasy slice of amazing pizza. This is like shawarma alley for Bahrain. So good and so bad.
Despite the extremely hot temperatures, it is respectable to be covered up. I saw a range of people wearing the full covering niqāb, or face veil, to casual going out attire, like jeans and a cute top. Men almost always are in suits or dress shirts, no matter the heat index. It was important for me to be respectful of their culture, and not die in the heat.
flowy / loose / maxi dress / anthropologie / free people were my jam ... outfit details below
So happy I got the chance to travel to Bahrain (and to see my husband on deployment!!). It really gave me a better understanding of their culture and respect of their environment. Everyone is SO nice! The customer service pretty much everywhere we went was unreal.. I felt like a princess!
Highly recommend visiting if you get the chance!
Thanks so much for reading and please fell free to reach out if you have any other questions about traveling to Bahrain or the Middle East :)