Forts, camels, iconic beaches – Bahrain has received its fair share of fame and that too, for good reason. There’s nothing like basking in the afternoon sun at Al Dar Island or a day exploring the stunning landmarks. In the past, UAE was the destination to draw the most visitors but now Bahrain is making an effort to share that spotlight.
While I am a big fan of travelling in the off-season and reaping the benefits: cheaper air ticket, inexpensive hotels, and what not – I traveled to Bahrain during the summer. It’s not like I had a choice, though. Rest of the year, studies would keep me occupied so the only time I could go abroad was during the summer break. But as I sit here writing about my 4 weeks trip to Bahrain, I can tell you that if unlike me you have a choice to travel in the winter, don’t think twice about booking your tickets to Manama sometime between October and February. So venturing in the Arabian Peninsula, I was expecting what anyone who had watched Aladdin growing up would have expected; sand dunes, humongous palm trees, and Arabian wildlife.
As I boarded the plane, I could already imagine myself walking on sandy desserts and wandering in souks where vendors would rip me off for souvenirs or beautiful Turkish lamps. Stepping out of the airport and seeing masses of unfamiliar faces, I felt an up-welling of anxiousness in the pit of my stomach. It was my first time all by myself abroad, after all. However, as soon as I found the person who was there to pick me up, the nervousness was soon replaced by a very familiar tinge of excitement which I had been feeling ever since I had booked my tickets.
As I walked outside, away from the shade and under the sun, I realized what a big mistake I had made by not packing an umbrella (more on how I ended up spending 2 hours walking under the sun to get back to my apartment from work, later). The weather was excruciatingly hot, but since I was transfixed by the beauty of Bahrain, it didn’t bother me, much. Anyone who has traveled to the Gulf countries in the summer can tell you what a unique form of torture it is, but since I have my experience to reflect upon, I’d say, it wasn’t that bad. Just my first day in the country included a variety of different experiences but the most exciting one was getting my first ever Starbucks (Pakistanis can probably relate). The apartment that I lived in consisted of two bedrooms, a massive lounge, a kitchen, and two bathrooms, and I was supposed to share it with 6 other interns. The place was fine but it needed to be cleaned so we decided to grab some cleaning products while on our way back from the mall. It took us an hour, if not more to get our place to look clean enough to spend the next few weeks there. By the time we were done we planned to get food from a local restaurant. When we got home, all of us were too tired for anything else so we just called it a day and headed to bed. So that’s all about my first day in the Land of Two Seas. Stay tuned for some tips and tricks on how you can make the most of your stay in the Middle East. If you have already been to Bahrain, comment below to share what your favorite place was.