On Saturday I finally got to go on my long awaited trip to Bahrain. To leave Saudi Arabia you need to have an exit & reentry visa, which you can’t get until you have your Iqama. I got my Iqama last week, & as this weekend was a long weekend, I decided to escape the bubble & head to Bahrain with a friend, Bex. We caught a taxi at 9am, & got to Bahrain over the causeway by about 11.30am, just in time for a yummy brunch at Jones the Grocer. Honestly- it was amazing. I had poached eggs on bagel, & it was so good.
Bex’s friend came to brunch with us, & he lives on a canal on Amwaj Island, & again, amazing. It was all manmade & synthetic, but still pretty. All the hotels close-by were named after Venice (Venice Grand, The Canal Regency etc etc) but it’s nothing like Venice. Both are stunning, but for very different reasons. We went for a swim in the canal for a bit (which it turns out isn’t that deep- less than two meters, which makes it way less scary), followed by chilling in the sun & having a drink of cider (oh how I’ve missed cider!), where I fell asleep in the sun because the cats woke me up at stupid o’clock on Saturday morning. After napping & chilling out Bex & I went to another bar called Dragon Bar, which was described to me as a ‘dive bar’. Clearly, I have different standards, because it wasn’t a dive bar. We only got one drink there before getting a taxi across town to Lanterns, where I’ll be honest- it gets a bit hazy. Bex & I met another friend Jo at the bar, & some of Bex’s other friends came to join us as well. We all had a really good evening (& the food was amazing, but not enough of it), before Jo & I got a taxi back to Saudi at 9pm.
Getting to & from Bahrain from Dammam isn’t difficult at all. On a good day it takes 45minutes, & there
are people who commute to work from Bahrain without too much hassle. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that everybody needs a visa to reenter Saudi Arabia, & if you get stuck out of the country, there is nothing you or anybody else can do to get back in to the country. They are very strict about that. The visas are issued in single entry, 3-monthly, 6-monthly or annual. I’ve gone for 3-monthly, because it is much better financially. It’s $US188 for three months, & very easy to renew I think. Just click a few buttons online & it’s emailed to you. If it’s not easy then I’ll get the six-monthly or annual. We’ll see. The visas used to be very cheap- about $200 for a year, but now it’s about $700+ for an annual, which is annoying for all. Thankfully- as with so many things here, visas can be put on a payroll deduction which makes it even easier (& kind of like you’re not spending money at all).
Overall, it was a very fun weekend, & I will definitely be going back to Bahrain in the near future.