Bahrain – Muharraq & Manama

Even though we had PCR covid test results within 48 hours of entering Bahrain, we were still forced to take another one at the border (free, courtesy of the Bahrain government). None of us were supposed to leave the hotel until the test results came back and were posted in the contact tracing app, “Be Aware Bahrain”. However, once we found out that our Saudi app, Tawakkalna, would suffice instead, we left the hotel to catch up with Jamaal, an old friend from our contracting days. On our first full day of sightseeing in Bahrain, we made a beeline to Muharraq Island, which was the center of Bahrain’s glorious pearl diving era. In the 1930s, there were over 30,000 pearl divers and their base was Muharraq. The demise of pearling was two fold – the discovery of oil in 1932 and Japan developing cultured pearls in the 1930s. However, the impact of pearling can still be seen in historic old Muharraq which earned UNESCO world heritage status as a result. We wandered on the Pearling Path, visiting wealthy pearl merchant’s houses and museums. After spending the morning in Muharraq, we walked back over to the Manama side of town to check out the National Museum as well as sign up for a free tour of the Bahrain Grand  Mosque. In the afternoon, we got lost in the Manama souq area which was fun for a few hours. Since we had so much fun with Jamaal last night, we decided to link up at Bahrain’s restaurant district, Block 338, again for another night on the town. Eating and drinking in Bahrain is not cheap by any means but we did have a fun time. On our second day in Bahrain, we got up early to visit the central fruit and vegetable market as well as the nearby meat and fish markets. It was a colorful, chaotic and pungent affair, and we made it back to our hotel in time for PCR tests to enter into Kuwait, our next destination. After the test, we walked over to the old Portuguese Fort (Bahrain Fort), which is Bahrain’s second UNESCO world heritage site. In the late afternoon, while most of our truck buddies were heading out for an “all you could eat and drink” Christmas eve extravaganza, we joined Hugo, Tim, Dan and Renee at Yasmine, a Lebanese restaurant that whipped up a tasty Christmas eve meal. Tomorrow will be an exhaustive day as we will be exiting Bahrain, entering Saudi Arabia, driving up towards Kuwait, exiting Saudi Arabia and trying to enter Kuwait before midnight. This self imposed deadline is due to Kuwait changing its entry rules due to the omicron variant. Apparently, anyone entering after midnight on Christmas day has to quarantine for 10 days, regardless of covid test or vaccination status. Wish us luck that we can get to Kuwait before midnight tomorrow!

Bahrain officials asked us to pose for a photo of the first ever overland group to enter the Arab state Reunion with our friend Jamaal 1928 Chevrolet; Swiss Belhotel Seef in Manama Located in the historical center of Muharraq, the Khalifiya library was one of the first public libraries in Bahrain Mural painted on a school's gate; Muharraq Shaikh Isa bin Ali Mosque; Muharraq Facade of Bait Siyadi, an old pearl merchant house in Muharraq Located in the heart of old Muharraq, Busaad Art Gallery is worth a quick look Street art along the Pearling Path, Muharraq Island Muharraq's Pearling Trail is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to Muharraq being the main pearl trading city in the world prior to Japan introducing cultured pearls in the 1930s. There are many historic buildings dating from the Pearl era as a result Street art in the historic district of Muharraq One of 17 historical buildings along the Pearling Path Dan and Leanne relax in a living room of one of the historical buildings along the Pearling Path; Muharraq Abaya statue; The Pearling Path visitor center Bahrain license plate Not an appropriate name for a hair salon! Ceiling detail of the Bin Matar House, a museum in old Muharraq Carpenter at Al Darwasa Antiques, a traditional wood carving workshop in Muharraq Hand carved "Allah" sign; Muharraq Figurines of sailors on a pearl ship; Muharraq Pearl divers display in Muharraq Baking "khubz" (bread) in a tandoor; old Muharraq A cobbler in old Muharraq Shoe seller Beautiful dresses for sale; Muharraq Souq "I love Bahrain" flag; Muharraq View of Manama from Muharraq Island Bu Maher Fort Street art; Muharraq The biggest cheese stick in Bahrain at Southside Restaurant Statue of a pearl diver outside the Bahrain National Museum; Manama Sculptures near the entrance to the Bahrain National Museum Sculpture garden at the Bahrain National Museum Robby by a sculpture in Manama Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage building; Manama Marina Beach Garden Park; Manama Isa Cultural Center Al Fateh Grand Mosque 7000 worshippers can pray inside Al Fateh Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in Bahrain Chandalier hanging in the middle of the dome; Al Fateh Grand Mosque National library at the Isa Cultural Center; Manama A makeshift fish market in the downtown area of Manama Street mannequins Turkish lamps for sale at Bab el-Bahrain Souk Artwork on offer at Manama Souq Located in the heart of Manama, the Bab el-Bahrain Souq is a shopper's delight Tile detail of some furniture on display at the Manama Souq Ceiling decor at the Bab el-Bahrain Souk Wall mural; Manama Bab al Bahrain is a historical building located in the customs square. It marks the entrance to the souk in Manama Kilim rug; Bab el-Bahrain Souk Pillows for sale; Manama Souq Entitled "Sunshine", this lovely piece was created by artist Feryal Isshaq, a Bahraini artist "Golden Eyed" painting by Feryal Isshaq We really liked Feryal's artwork on display at the Manama Souk Dolls dressed in traditional Bahraini clothing Mixed spice display; Manama Souq Ratna eggplants for sale; Manama Souq Little India wall mural; Manama Flowers for sale outside Shri Krishna Temple Shri Krishna Temple was established in 1817 in Manama Manama souq gets a lot of foot traffic once the sun sets Pasta, dried fruits and nuts for sale; Manama Souq Spices on display at the Manama Souq Souq scene at night Posing in a "I love Manama" sign witih Jamaal at Block 338 (Bahrain's restaurant district) Central market scene; Manama Bahrain Central Meat Market A butcher smiles at the meat market; Manama Cow heads at the meat market Recently slaughtered goats for sale; Meat Market Pillows for sale; Ramez Discount Store Central Fish Market in Manama Stingray for sale at the fish market Vendor cutting up fish at the central fish market in Manama Clams for sale at the fish market Vendor showing off how big his prawns are; Fish Market It was sad to see so many sharks for sale at the fish market in Manama Bahrain has over half a million migrant workers who hail primarily from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Fresh produce for sale at the Central Market; Manama Fruit and vegetable section of the Central Market; Manama A man inspecting lettuce at the central market Traditional dhow on display at a roundabout; Manama Bahrain Chamber of Commerce Qal'at al-Bahrain (Portuguese) Fort, a UNESCO world heritage site Arched entrance to the Bahrain Fort Arabic inscriptions on a well display at the Bahrain Fort Bahrain Fort covered passageway Flagpole at the Bahrain Fort with Manama in the background Christmas eve dinner at Yasmine, a Lebanese restaurant Christmas decorations; Seef Celebrating Christmas in Manama with Tim, Hugo, Renee and Dan video lightboxby v6.1

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