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Published: October 11th 2011
We had only 22 hours in Bahrain, but it was plenty of time (assuming we were willing to forgo a bit of sleep) to see a few of the more popular sights.
We arrived late at night and by the time we got to our hotel (The Diplomat Radisson, close to the airport) it was after midnight. The flight from Kuala Lumpur was over 3,700 miles and took nearly 8 hours, but Gulf Air seems to be a nice airline and once the flight attendants knew I was a sister flight attendant, I received first class service, even in coach. It would be awesome if I could one day return the favor! The Gulf Air flight attendants are wonderful and their uniforms are flawless, right down to their beautiful hats.
After a short night, we were awake. MaryAnne had pre-ordered breakfast to be sent to our hotel room early (she is one smart girl) so we didn't have to waste time finding something to eat.
The first stop on our tour of the tiny Kingdom of Bahrain was the Tree of Life, something I had wanted to see since first reading about it a few months ago. The
Ahmad Al-Fateh Grand Mosque
One of the largest mosques in the world, it can hold 7,000 worshipers at once. This mosque is in Juffair, near the King Faisal Highway.
Tree of Life is a 400 year old North American mesquite tree that stands 32' high. It's located toward the south end of the country and took us between 30-45 minutes to get there by cab. Our cab driver, Abdullah, told us many people visit the Tree of Life and that he has been there many times. I was really glad we made the decision to go. I had heard it was not a pleasant place to visit and while I wouldn't say the surrounding environment was worth writing about, the tree itself was really special simply because it was there, on a sandy hill without another tree in sight for miles all around us. There is not a single water source available for miles and the climate in Bahrain is extremely arid. How the tree has lived for 400 years is a mystery scientists can't fully explain, except that North American mesquites have one of the deepest roots systems of all trees on the planet. The locals believe the tree is sustained by Enki, the mythical god of water and that it also marks the spot of the Garden of Eden. The Tree of Life in Bahrain is in
the top ten list of the most unusual trees on earth.
The high temperatures forced us back into the waiting cab more quickly than we would have liked, but not before we were able to take several photos. Abdullah even posed for a few and gave us a "thumbs-up!" He was really great.
On the drive back into the city Abdullah took us over the King Fahd Causeway to the Saudi Arabia border crossing. On the other side of the Causeway is a park-like area with shade trees and plenty of grass where we were able to get out and take a few more photos. The Persian Gulf is beautiful with turquoise water that sparkles in the sunlight. It is really a shame this part of the world is inaccessible to so many people. Tensions are high in Bahrain this year as anti-government protests turned deadly in early February when the local military used force to try to end the protests, but we were there during Ramadan and everything seemed peaceful.
Abdullah dropped us off at the Bahrain National Museum and we spent quite a bit of time learning about the history of Bahrain. For such a
tiny country, Bahrain is very old and some of the artifacts in the museum date back 9,000 years. Ancient philosophers wrote about the tiny island with its clear waters and beautiful pearls. The most beautiful pearls in the world come from the Persian Gulf and more specifically, Bahrain.
The hotel was just across the freeway so we hopped a few barricades and walked the short distance in less than ten minutes. Imagine our surprise when we were not arrested for jaywalking...which only means they didn't catch us. I'm sure it's illegal to walk on the highway in Bahrain.
After a quick snack in our room (no eating in public until 7:00 p.m.) we caught a cab to the spice souq. Only a few shops were open, and that was probably best for us as we both found many things we wanted to buy. It was in this souq we found the silk rug I absolutely had to have, and the antiqued brass astronomy globe that is extremely heavy and hangs from a brass chain that MaryAnne had to have (and I had to transport home through several security checkpoints with security guards who were suspicious about the heavy
metal ball in my suitcase). The shopping in Bahrain was really great!
Our flight to Dubai was early evening so we arrived at the airport with enough time to have dinner. The restaurant was quite formal for an airport and I think it was called The Sky Restaurant. Traveling with MaryAnne on a regular basis could cause me to become overweight...no dinner was complete without a bottle of wine and dessert and I happily imbibed in both. On to Dubai....
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