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Bahrain, Middle East, Travel

Bahrain Eats and Nightlife

May 13, 2015

Bahrain

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I had no expectation of food in Bahrain, except that the original Ric’s Kountry Kitchen is there. Ric’s is an American Style Diner in Doha, which I tend to frequent on Friday mornings for Texas-style French toast and fake sausage. It feels like home in there. Needless to say, I wanted to go to the original one. Not only because it’s the original, but because they have real sausage and bacon! Yes, Bahrain has pork in restaurants. I ordered my usual, The Rig. The Rig is two eggs any style with Texas French Toast and two sausage patties.  Plus I got a half order of the biscuits and sausage gravy. Yes, my cholesterol probably went through the roof as I ate it all. Real sausage just doesn’t compare to the fake stuff we get here. I was in heaven.  So much so we went both Friday and Saturday morning. They also serve beer! Ric’s in Bahrain was great although the coffee was just as bad as in Doha. But if you want an authentic American breakfast Ric’s is the place to go!

Bahrain

People kept telling me there was good Mexican food in Bahrain. As a Texan, my ears perked up and I was on a mission to find it.  Two people had recommended Señor Pacos. My friend and I agreed that we needed to go. My friend that lives there picked us up and had invited a few of her friends. The decor was definitely Mexican. There was Mexican tile all over. I failed to get pictures as all I could think about was food.  I ordered the Enchiladas Suizas, which is sour cream and green sauce with chicken inside.  My friend and I split a pitcher of Margaritas. This was the best Mexican I have had in the Middle East. Also, there was a terrible cover band, but we danced anyway and had a great blast!

The party then moved to a great bar called, JJ’s Restaurant. Not much of a restaurant that I could see, but great dj. There was a small dance floor that we spend several hours on. For someone not living in the Middle East, this is just your basic bar. But we have nothing like this in Doha. We didn’t want to leave. My feet were killing me by the end of the night and that is always a sign of a good time.  We also went to a bar called Dublin’s the night before. Not great, but okay if you are nearby, but I wouldn’t seek it out. Also, avoid Match Point. Can’t say why but just take my word for it.

I really enjoyed my time in Bahrain and am already planning to return! Where have you been lately that surprised you?

Want to download this article with a walking tour? Check it out on GPSmyCity.

Bahrain, Middle East, Museums, Travel

Exploring the Bahrain National Museum

May 11, 2015

In my quest to visit more of the Middle East this year, I decided to go to Bahrain over the weekend. It is a very short flight. The airline website says it is 55 minutes, but the flight back was about 20 minutes. I wasn’t keeping track on the flight over as I fell asleep! A friend of mine who is also interested in exploring the Middle East came with me.

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We had both been told about the Bahrain National Museum and how amazing it is. We were not disappointed. This isn’t to say it is the best museum in the world, but when you live in a country with few museums and almost no local artifacts on display, this was a treat. The Bahrain National Museum was opened in 1988. It is a mix of history, archaeology and modern art.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the giant aerial photograph of Bahrain that was on the ground of the main floor.  It was very cool to see the scale of Bahrain. My friend and I walked around trying to find our hotel, but we think it was underneath a model display. The first floor had two temporary exhibits. One was on folktales and the other movie costumes from a specific designer. I don’t know who the designer was as I missed the label and the museum doesn’t have a good website. The permanent exhibit spaces on the first floor contained artifacts of the Dilmun civilization, which encompassed Bahrain and other Middle Eastern countries. Many of the artifacts were very old, but in very good shape. There were seals, pottery, coins, scrolls, documents and metalwork on display. Upstairs there was a life-size Souq with dioramas. While dioramas are no longer the norm in museums, they were great even if some of the mannequins needed a facelift. Look in the photo gallery for the poorly taxidermied cat! I think the dioramas worked because you walked through them instead of them being faced out behind glass.  It felt very real. There were two other galleries that were being renovated that looked intriguing. I will have to pay a visit the next time I go to see what becomes of them.

Outside is sculpture garden. It starts on the entry side and goes around the back of the museum to the water side. Some of them were huge. I am not usually a fan of sculpture but these were very beautiful and done in a modern style and seem to tell a story. Unfortunately, it was too hot to stand outside looking at them for too long.

Interesting story, my friend and I walked in the entrance and we were already hot from the 50 yards or so we had to walk from the cab. We commented on how hot it was to the guards at the ticket desk. When we asked how much, they said nothing because it’s hot. We were like okay, sounds good to us! Unfortunately, when we were leaving they were charging a family 1 dinar each for adults! We aren’t really sure why they let us in for free and I am not sure I want to know. However, if you get to Bahrain, make the museum your first stop!

Next post, Bahrain food and nightlife! Have you been to Bahrain? What was your favorite spot?

Middle East, Travel

My Weekend Getaway to Dubai

May 4, 2015

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After living in Doha for almost two years, I finally made it to Dubai two weeks ago. Dubai isn’t a place you probably want to go to by yourself for the first time, so I had been waiting to go when friends were. I also didn’t have a great urge to go as I have heard it isn’t much different from Doha. Well except that there is more to do, but it is basically more of the same.

Since I went with a friend who used to live there, I let her do all the planning and just went along for whatever she suggested. This is not my usual travel style, but this was also a get out of Doha trip not so much a sightseeing trip. It was also a short weekend getaway. I did enjoy my time in Dubai, but I won’t be applying for jobs there any time soon!

The first day, we went to Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall (by square footage). My feet hurt enough after to attest to it.  They have a lot of stores and restaurants that we don’t have in Doha, which is why many people go to Dubai just to shop. The biggest highlight for me was the bookstore, Kinokuniya. We don’t have many good bookstores in Qatar and not any that are large! This place was huge. Even bigger than a Barnes and Noble and the selection was better. They had all the classics. I picked up three books including A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe. Outside the mall is the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. I couldn’t get the whole building in the photo above. Just below the Burj is the fountains, which put on a show every hour. We didn’t stick around as it was getting crowded in the mall and it is best to see them at night. The mall also has an indoor aquarium! It has sharks, rays and lots of odd-looking fish I didn’t recognize. I could have stood there for hours watching them swim by.

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My friend kept talking about going to the Irish Village. I wasn’t sure what to expect, except that it was a bar. It was like going to Dublin in Dubai. You didn’t know you were in the Middle East at all, which was nice for a change. You can sit outside and drink beer and eat pork. There were also some lovely trees. Yes, I have been here a long time when I talk about the beauty of trees. It was almost too hot when we went, so I am sure the next time I go, I will be sitting inside.

The other highlight of the trip for me was going to The Music Room. We have limited live music in Doha and this was a great place to catch some local UAE bands. They were all covering British artists, which is some of my favorite stuff.  The quality of the bands was also great and a real treat for me. I will say the service was not great as all the tables had been reserved and they wouldn’t let us sit even though no one was there. We finally had to get a manager involved. The reserve table people didn’t show up until almost 11 and there was plenty of space. So my advice would be to book a table. Otherwise, it was a nice venue and with good music.

Hopefully the next trip to Dubai will involve some actual sightseeing!

 

Jeep, Middle East, Qatar

Exploring Qatar: Purple Island

February 10, 2015

Purple Island Qatar

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I am a big believer of exploring the country, city, state, etc. that you live in. Living in Qatar has been no exception. Last year, I went to visit Purple Island, and it was green and watery unlike most of Qatar. A friend of mine mentioned he had never been outside of Doha since moving here, so decided to take him.  Like last year, we have had a lot of rain this winter, and it was even more beautiful than last year. Purple Island is named because of the purple dye produced from a sea-snail, of which thousands of shells have been found on the island. Purple Island is surrounded by mangroves. This year they were even larger than last year. The water was deeper than last year as well. I didn’t see any crabs like I did last year, but this year we saw cranes and two flamingos! The flamingos were actually flying, which I don’t think I have ever seen them flying. Unfortunately, when they landed they were too far for me to get a good shot with my camera. Purple Island has an interesting landscape, and there is plenty to discover, and I am sure the next time I go it will look just as different.  This time, we also explored around the mangroves as we could see camps on the other side. However, it was pretty muddy, so we didn’t get out of the Jeep.

Purple Island Qatar

To get to Purple Island, you have to head to Al Khor and turn right towards the Al Khor hospital, after the hospital you turn right off at the now built, but not open Al Meera grocery store. There is also a tower if you don’t see the grocery store. You head down this road till you see a sign that says Flower Each Spring Camp, turn off-road here.  On this visit, there were also two Qatari flags marking the entrance. If you don’t have a 4×4, you will be okay if it hasn’t rained recently.  Although you will only be able to drive to the Purple Island entrance and not drive around the mangroves as we did. Make sure your car has good ground clearance. Follow the path made by other cars and you will see other cars at the entrance and a garbage bin.  From here you will have to get out of your car and walk about 1 km down the path to the island. There is lots to see along the way. Look for the yellow flowers along the path. You will also have to wade through water, so make sure you don’t mind getting your shoes wet. When we were there, it was about calf deep on me and it was cold! The water was moving swiftly so be careful.  Many people were bringing their children in as we left, so it can be done with children in tow.

Here are a few more images of Purple Island and the surrounding area. Do you explore your own country? Where do you like to go?

Purple Island QatarPurple Island QatarPurple Island QatarPurple Island QatarPurple Island Qatar