Monday, 31 December 2007

New Year's Eve 2007

After not getting a visa to visit Iran over this Christmas period, I ended up staying here in Muscat for Christmas, then on the spur of the moment booked a trip to Bahrain. After all I won't be in the Gulf region forever, so I may as well see what's around here.

My first Bahraini purchase, after checking-in to my hotel, wasn't gold or pearls, both of which Bahrain is famous for, but was a pair of woolly gloves! Cold ? Not by UK standards, but I left 25⁰c, to arrive at 18 with a cold, cold wind - and it got colder as the sun set. Brrr.

It was great to be in a city that you can walk around, unlike Muscat which is NOT pedestrian friendly, and walked several kilometres over the 4 days I was there. Thursday afternoon was spent wandering around the souq. Friday afternoon, I walked over the causeway from Manama to the nearby town of Muharraq; wandering around the old capital and visiting an old Bahraini house, which was fascinating. Finally, yesterday I walked back to my hotel from the Grand mosque via a very cool restaurant where I had lunch, past the palace, through some seedy residential areas, and made a final stop in the Radisson for tea and cheesecake. Yum :-)

Saturday, I had taken the birthday cards that I'd received to open before breakfast, and received several texts throughout the day, which made me feel special. Thanks guys. After breakfast, I met with a private guide, a very nice Bahraini woman, and headed inland (although there's not really that far to go). I saw all the major archaeological and heritage sites, including the UNESCO listed Qal'at al-Bahrain (Bahrain fort). As with all tours I got mildly hijacked with a visit to a blind-basket weaver - as it was my birthday I bought myself a reed mat- and a pottery where I didn't buy anything.

Finally, yesterday I visited the Al-Fateh Grand Mosque. It's incredible as they give guided tours to non-Muslims, and was my first time in an Abaya and scarf... The abaya was a bit long and I nearly tripped over it several times. Oops. How do these women glide so effortlessly? Or is it just me who's a klutz? Our guide was terrifically knowledgeable, and had a fantastic voice; he sang the call for prayer and gave a translation. I've discovered that when I use the video part of my digital camera, I shouldn't turn the camera. I have a video of the guide chanting, levitating.

So now I'm back in Muscat, but you can check out the Bahrain pics on flickr in a few days time.
I'm looking forward to the year ahead, and the new challenges it will bring.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year. Sx


Anonymous said...

We'll see if it works!?
Job still great. Maybe nice opportunities. I'll tell you late. right now nothing. We'll see.
The sheeps are allright. People here love them and ask me about them.
I'll see for coming... first get holidays! Can't ask right now, but I keep this idea in mind.
Thank you for keeping in touch. Do you have any for an other jobin Europ. Maybe to soon to know where and how you gona go back...
Love and hope to red you soon!

askios007 said...

Just hopping through random blogs came across yours and was nice to read about your trip to Bahrain. I was born and lived most of my life there .. so always get a bit sentimental when I read about it. Glad you enjoyed your short stay there!

Nazu, India