Bahrain: Manama, Muharraq island. 10.02.2011
Travelling alone on this trip, I wanted to see more of the Middle east; this time Bahrain, a tiny country situated on an island in the Gulf that links with Saudi Arabia by a 26km causeway.
After a couple of stop-overs (England and Qatar), I finally arrived at Manama, Bahrain.
Sometimes I get this kickass feeling arriving countries were I don’t have any expectations at all. Theese trips usually ends up really great, and Bahrain is definitely one of them!
Arriving at my pre-booked hotel in the middle of the bustling old souq made my first impression really great!! I coulden’t wait to explore this amzing city with all it’s smells, sounds, architecture, culture and not to mention the curious multi cultural people of Bahrain!
Walking around the extremely crowded souq, located in the heart of the city made my day! I really enjoied looking at all the traditional shops selling all kinds of spices, fabrics, kaftans, thobes, handicrafts, souvenirs, dry fruits, nuts, and any other thing you can imagine. Not to mention the Gold souq were all the gold is hallmarked and pure, consisting only of 18K and 21K. (10K and 14K are not usually acceptable as ‘gold’ jewelry), including the Bahraini pearls are really one of a kind. They are not cultured but natural and are actually the only natural pearls in the world today.
In between the walk I enjoyed the amazing good food from this region, you just have to love this place!
A visit to the Al-Fateh Mosque (also known as Al-Fateh Islamic Center & Al Fateh Grand Mosque) was a must to experience! The amazing architecture both inside and outside was really great. As this mosque is the largest place of worship in Bahrain and capable of accommodating over 7,000 worshippers at one time, you can just imagine. Learning a bit about religion from my cool guide made this visit perfect.
A trip to the Bahrain National Museum and learning about the regions history was really interesting.
This is definitely the best place to see the history of Bahrain from the stone age, through ancient civilizations and up to the pre-oil period.
In between sights I just had to stop by the Bahrain World Trade Center building. A crazy architecture wich is the landmark and a symbol of the region’s fast growing economy. It includes a five-star hotel, dining and office accommodation.Cool stuff!
Qulat Al Bahrain Site (Bahrain Fort), a really boring place, but a great view over Manama. It’s an Islamic fort dating back to the 16th century A.D.
A highlight of my visit was definitely a trip to Muharraq Island.
On my long walk on this city-island I was struck by how different this place was comparing to Manama (Bahrain Island). With its old buildings and atmospheric back streets I really got a feeling for how the old cities in the middle east used to be.
Having a coffee at a run down old coffee shop, just looking at people playing games and doing their daily stuff was great, and since I could’t see any other tourists anywhere the whole day I felt really privileged being here.
Some of the stuff I saw on Muharraq Island:
-Shaikh isa Bin Ali Al Khalifa House. Built on an air conditioner way of Arabic architecture in the end of the 18th century.
-Shaik Isa Ben Ali Mosque.
-Muharraq Dhow building yard.
-Qala’at Arad fort.
Coming back late at night from Muharraq island I saw plenty of police and army sorrounding Bab-Al-Bahrain, gateway to the old Souq and my hotel. Thinking nothing of it I manage to sneak my way to the hotel. The next day it was packed with police and army everywhere, and again I manage to sneak my way thru, grabbing a taxi going to the airport. Apparently the Bahrain riots started the day before and some people was already killed..scary stuff!! Luckely I was on my way to Qatar (next blog) just before all hell broke lose!!
I really love this tiny country. The friendly people, the sights and with hardly any tourists to see, it’s a perfect setting for anyone looking for a slightly different place to visit.
My tips to other travellers:
Muharraq Island, Al-Fateh Mosque, The Old Souq and the food!
Cheap for middle east standard.
My hotel was midrange: Oriental Palace BD19/night
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