Driving to the airport: The amount of construction going on in Riyadh is incredible. Look at all those cranes!
Bahrain has a reputation for providing all the guilty pleasures that don't exist legally in Saudi Arabia, and as such it's a popular destination for Saudi men on the weekends. Only a four-hour drive from Riyadh, Bahrain is everything Saudi Arabia isn't. The atmosphere is relaxed and social in a way that Riyadh definitely lacks. You can walk along the streets and see men and women talking together, some women covered and others in shorts and short sleeves. Since there are no restrictions on talking to the opposite sex, conversation just happens more naturally, meaning there are much more opportunities to practice Arabic. You can sit outside and drink coffee - a simple pleasure denied me here. (Coffee shops in KSA, aside from Starbucks, are men-only. Since malls are the domain of the women, with single men often getting kicked out, the men retreat to their coffee shops - virtually the only place where single young men can hang out.)
Bahrain also features - get this - movie theaters. It doesn't seem like such a big deal until you live in a place without them. At work, the teachers taking weekend trips to Bahrain get so excited about going to see a real movie in the theater.
As expected, the tight restrictions on alcohol and on mingling with the opposite sex explode in Bahrain in a shocking rebound effect. In Saudi Arabia, you can't look at girl's cheek, let alone her hair or her elbow. In Bahrain, every hotel doubles as a brothel, where you can bump into half-dressed girls every time you use the elevator. The nice hotels (by that I mean the ones with internet and air conditioning) are not for sleeping - try as he might, Josh was unable to fall asleep due to the pounding beat reverberating from the night club downstairs even though he was five floors above it. The hotels are also the source of alcohol, which is sold at the absolutely ridiculous price of $10 per beer.
Everything in Bahrain is expensive, from the taxis to the hotels and the souvenirs. Like everywhere, it has its pluses and minuses! I would be interested in seeing it sometime. For now, I have to content myself with Josh's stories and photos.
The history museum.
Clay grenades on display at the museum.
At the museum.
The Fort in Bahrain. The fort dates to about 2300 BC and marks one of the strongholds of the ancient Dilmun civilization, written about only in Sumerian cuniform texts. They have excavated only about 25% of the fort.
The architecture in Bahrain is amazing - like in Riyadh.