Bahrain is the perfect intro to the Middle East

Exotic.Charming.Historic. Just a few words to describe beautiful Bahrain. For a gentle step into the Middle East I highly recommend the Kingdom of Bahrain.

I had a brief stopover in Dubai before my December 2016 visit to Bahrain but I wouldn’t count this as a true taste of the region. Friends of mine from India are living and working and invite me to come and stay.  It’s always the best way to see a country, with locals and friends. At times I even felt like I was in India, being surrounded by my lovely Indian friends and family, listening to Bollywood music and eating Indian food. But they made sure to get me out and about to see as much of Bahrain and experience this country rich in history.

Dubai to me is manufactured and I didn’t get a sense of what the culture of the country is. It’s largely an ex pat state and it is really built for tourists. Although Bahrain is also quite a transient place with 40% of their tiny 2.5 million population being made up of ex pats, they have made sure to stay true to the roots of culture, and incorporated the new well.

I want to share detailed posts about each of the main tourist sites I visited, but I shall share here just a few of my favourite photos shared to Instagram. Enjoy!

Really enjoyed experiencing some history of Bahrain today at Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House.

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The Manama Souq in Bahrain, wonderful place to enjoy some shopping and get a vibe for the old markets of this area. They’ve modernized it but the haggling and trading of the souq is still there.

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Standing in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Bahrain. Incredible structure.

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More sightseeing by car. Love this twisty office building near the Bahrain Financial Harbour and in the distance theBahrain World Trade Centre.

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Magical lighting brings the Bahrain Fort to life at night.

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Lion King eat your heart out! Being a kitty in the Tree of Life in Bahrain.

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The Bahrain Fort was the perfect place to finish my wonderful experience in Bahrain. Fortunately having gone to the National Museum the day before, I knew some of the fascinating history of this important site. The lighting was fantastic and I highly recommend going at night.

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The Tree of Life.

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Beautiful day for spotting some of the key sites of Bahrain. This is the stunning Grand Mosque. Look forward to exploring tomorrow.

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Afternoons in Bahrain. Taking in some culture at the National Museum. This is the beautiful view back over the city from the outside of the museum.

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Please do yourself a favour, head to the Kingdom of Bahrain and enjoy the laid back and chilled isllnd vibe of the Middle East.

Excited for my first proper stopover in Dubai

Dubai is an extremely popular stopover point between Australia and Europe. I can’t actually count now how many times I’ve been through the airport. I know the layout of the terminal rather well and I always make a beeline for Starbucks and a quick dose of FREE WIFI. But, I’ve never left the airport. However, now is my time! Next week I’m heading to the Kingdom of Bahrain to visit a friend and this time, I’m going to Dubai!

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Photo credit: Amar Saleem

My dad says “If you like shopping and you like sand, you’ll like Dubai.” Well, I quite like both those things so I should be sweet! But in terms of things to do, I had no idea where to begin.

For the past eight years, I’ve been booking my trips with a wonderful travel agent at STA Travel. Gerry is my human Lonely Planet. Any travel question I have, he can answer. So when booking my trip through him to Dubai, I asked “Any tips for Dubai?” The following incredible advice came through that I just had to share! It’s made me very excited for my trip.

Dubai is split into  four main areas:

DEIRA/BUR DUBAI

Deira is the bustling area near the airport and Bur Dubai is on the other side of Dubai Creek opposite Deira. These areas have the souks and the older buildings like the Grand Mosque and Bastakiya which is a restored heritage area. The little boats ( Abras ) which go to and from across the creek are a fun way to sight see.  The souks aren’t as interesting as say what you would find in Istanbul/Morocco  etc but pleasant enough.

JUMEIRAH BEACH

This is the playground of Dubai with big sprawling hotels and resorts and iconic hotels like the Burj Al Arab,  its worth a wander around here though distances are great and transport limited.

DOWNTOWN  ( This is the area on the bustling Sheik Zayed Road )

This is home to lots of the malls  like Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates ( The one with the ski slopes ) and the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa. Also close by here in the sea is the  Atlantis Resort built on the  Palm Jumeirah which has a great aquarium and waterpark if that is your thing.

DUBAI MARINA

This is the newest area with some wonderful new architecture and a pretty good paved beachfront walkway. It’s the main night life area for westerners.

Getting around is quite easy, the metro serves most places and there is a limited monorail but it goes out to the Atlantis and quite a nice journey, then there are local buses and taxis, I used to catch taxis all the time but the traffic over the years has become hideous and not just at peak hour when thousands of imported workers head off for the day.

If you take Dubai for what it is, it’s fine and fun!

The cheaper places to stay are in Deira and more authentic cheaper places to eat or the malls have what you would expect. There is a time out guide to Dubai which is good for insights into stuff to do,  he heavily advertised dune bashing/BBQ’s are fun but don’t think you are getting a bedouin experience!!

Jump in headfirst, ignore the bling and its not a bad stopover!

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After much deliberation, and of course checking with Gerry, I’ve decided to stay near the Dubai Marina. I think I’m always drawn to the water. No real plans are locked in but I welcome any extra tips of advice. I’ve got just two days and I can’t wait to see all that I can see. Watch this space for lots of Dubai insights and tales from the sandy lands.