Advantages Good nightlife and pearl shopping
Disadvantages Not much there for tourists
I may well be horribly biased but I think this is a fantastic place. After all I was born in Bahrain, but I hadn’t been back for at least 15 years when I visited family friends for a week last summer. It strikes me that Bahrain is far from an up and coming tourist destination. I had great time, but I was with a resident.As far as background goes Bahrain is a tiny island in the Persian Gulf. It’s not particularly famous for anything other than it’s new and relatively liberal monarch, it’s spats with Qatar and it’s pearl fishing. It’s mainly desert or city, there’s not much else. But for me the place has character. Again this may be being among friends and to tell the truth I’m having difficulties thinking of things for tourists to do.
The best sight I can think of is the royal palace built out in the desert by some particularly batty ruler. It’s apparently based on Windsor Palace and is quite something, rising as it does out of acres of sand. This alone, however, does not a tourist destination make.If you get the opportunity to stay with any expats I would urge you to go. The best bits of Bahrain are known by the locals. The boat club, for example, where my friends had a beat up motor boat and we went out wake boarding on the high seas. You apparently find dolphin in these parts but I didn’t see any, though I looked really hard.
The souk is nice, but not worth the airfare. You can wander down alley ways in-between stalls selling just about anything you could possibly want. The gold souk is particularly famous. I felt a bit intimidated, though. For women conservative dress is a must and you don’t see many women out on the street, apart from at dusk when they all come out for their evening walks, heavily veiled, and look like a herd of black ghosties in trainers. This means that you are surrounded by Arab men who are not exactly welcoming. I wished I’d taken something other than jeans to wear.The night life in Bahrain is surprisingly good. They get a lot of American Marines in the clubs so ladies be prepared to get hassled. My favourite was the warbler which had a sort of sports theme and a truly excellent in house band. The clubs also do ladies nights where women pay a small fee at the door and then get their drinks free all night. Be warned, though, the reason the clubs run these nights is to attract the marines.
All in all Bahrain is the sort of place where you need a local guide. Surprisingly some of the poorer areas are the prettiest as the more traditional houses are still around. Don’t go for the beaches, though, as pollution is a real problem. My parents loved living in Bahrain. The expat life out there is a particularly good one. As far as holidays go, however, there are more exciting places I can think of.
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