December 6, 2014
Bahrain bound!! Finally… after a very stressful morning in Cairo where I desperately attempted to change my flights from Riyadh bound to Bahrain bound… I managed to get on board a flight headed to Bahrain… did one of those “I’m not looking cuz I just can’t cuz this is going to hurt my bank account but I’ll hand over my credit card because I really don’t want to go back to Riyadh yet” moves…
Met up with a friend and spent 4 blissfully relaxing days in Bahrain… at the absolutely gorgeous Ritz Carlton Bahrain Hotel & Spa for the first few nights… and the last night at the Sofitel as there was a big international security conference in Bahrain and a triathlon that weekend so the hotel was fully booked for our last night.
Arriving at the Ritz for the first time on the trip was amazing… the roadway to the hotel bathed in purple light from the many lights strung above the road…
I was wondering if this was normal for the Ritz… (In Riyadh there’s beautiful lights everywhere, any time of year!)
But when I entered the lobby, I clued in as I saw my first bit of Christmas!!! And what a gorgeous display it was!!!! Living in Saudi, where Christmas is definitely not celebrated or seen in any way… no Christmas trees or Christmas lights anywhere… no aisles full of chocolates and candy canes and delicious Christmas treats… no carols and holiday music playing every where for months… no sign anywhere to indicate Christmas is coming. So I’d kind of forgotten that Christmas was less than a month away. Until I entered the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain and saw the 3 story tree…
And there were poinsettias everywhere!!! That made me happier than almost anything else I saw there that weekend!!!! My dad owns greenhouses back in Canada and grows acres of poinsettias every Christmas. So our house is always fully decked out with Christmas red and sparkly poinsettias… and when I walk out to the greenhouse at it is always a sea of red holiday cheer!!
So I was absolutely thrilled to find poinsettias here!!
Moving on. The weather was gorgeous. Sunny. Relatively warm… 20-25 degree during the day… little chilly for chilling on the beach, as I’ve definitely adjusted to Saudi temps and 20-25 is definitely not sit in the sun in a bikini weather anymore!!! Definitely doesn’t feel like it’s winter and nearly Christmas! Nothing like the nearly Christmas weather I’m used to!!
The beach at the Ritz is beautiful!! It’s one of the few hotels in Bahrain that actually has its own beach. And soft blue lagoon with pretty white sand…
Sitting on a lounge chair, listening to the gentle sound of little waves lapping on the shore line… sipping a ice cold G&T… feeling the warmth of the sun saturating through my clothes… it was wonderful!
And SO supremely relaxing!After 5 days of crazy rapid travel through Egypt and all the noise and commotion and history overload… it was the perfect way to spend the last weekend of my first week of leave out of Saudi Arabia! The last 5 months of living in Saudi have been really really good and I really didn’t feel overly restricted or at the end of my rope and really needing a break away from Saudi. But being here and being able to fully relax, I realized how much I did need the break away. And relaxing on a beach is definitely my ideal way to truely destress!!
And the beach isn’t the only gorgeous spot at the Ritz Bahrain… the pool area is amazing… there are a bunch of great restaurants and bars… and lovely garden areas. It’s just generally a gorgeous resort!
There’s even a pond/stream with FLAMINGOS in it!! Apparently at one point there used to be a lot of flamingos on the island, but now they’re nearly extinct on the island… but not here at the Ritz!
(excuse the flamingo selfie but I just had to :P)
Continuing on with the relaxing, a friend of a friend showed us around Bahrain and took us to heaps of lovely restaurants. It was wonderful to not even have to worry about how to get there and where to eat or anything like that! And every place we went to was incredible! An couple Italian restaurants, Masso and Oliveto’s, a steak house called the Meat Co, a Japanese restaurant: Mirai, and Villa Mamas, a traditional homey little restaurant that had probably the best Arabic food I’ve ever eaten in my life! And apparently Villa Mamas was started by a lady who even grew her own herbs and everything for the restaurant!
One of my favorite nights was at Olivetos… they had a great live band… I’ve seriously missed live music. Excuse the crappy quality of the video below… but the singer had an incredible voice!! And this is probably one of my favorite songs! Hadn’t heard it in ages either!
For the record, Olivetos is really pretty too… Huge bonsai trees set all throughout the pool in the center….
And finally… For the last night/day we moved to the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa Hotel… a really nice resort… but located a good 20km out of the city center so getting anywhere was a bit more difficult and definitely took a lot longer!! But the resort was beautiful… a lovely beach also and the relaxation just continued.
I saw one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’d seen in a long time… there’s nothing quite like the sun setting over the ocean!!!
So when I had to leave on Saturday night to head back to Riyadh to work Sunday… I was definitely disappointed.
But honestly, it was an absolutely wonderful first week out of Riyadh… and I can’t wait to see where the remainder of my 54 days of annual leave take me!!!! Home next?! And now I’m going back to Riyadh feeling refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvinated. Ready to take on Saudi again… the challenges and frustrations but also all the wonderful experiences and life lessons I’m getting! Plus I’ve got so many great friends there… so even though Christmas is coming up and I’ll be away from my family… I’ll have my Saudi family ❤
Next up on the blog… Christmas in Saudi?