Day 15 – Bahrain

6 Apr

Pop quiz: whats the capital of Bahrain?

10 points if you said Manama. 5 points for saying anything at all.

Done well today, in all aspects except taking photos. Lazy morning in my private sauna and then on the private beach at Le Meridien, sister hotel to the Grosvenor. The complimentary car provided by the hotel to take me to the airport was a very nice BMW 7 series. Got an alert about an aircraft change for my flight with the awful Fly Dubai which meant I got in first on the new configuration and was able to pick a business class seat on my economy ticket, making it substantially less awful.

And then Bahrain. I’d booked it before the grand prix switched places with China and had too many plans in place to change once I found out about the swap. I now expected an overrun hotel and no possibility of upgrade.

First, I was met at the airport by the hotel driver who led me to a very nice Mercedes S-class AMG. First impressions of Bahrain are that it is very much smaller and denser than the other gulf states, but the car certainly wasn’t.

Then the hotel. Seemingly quiet. Maybe all the F1 people are at the track. Saudi Ferrari outside with the registration number “1”. Upgraded to a suite. Not quite the same level as the Royal Suite, but still very nice, especially as it’s costing me nothing but a few freely earned points.

And access to the Club lounge, also surprisingly empty, with excellent service, a perfect martini (first time on this trip that my instruction to make it with two olives has been correctly implemented), and the most delicious little canapes of steak with blue cheese, of which I had 8 portions…

Then a walk around Manama Souk. Like the rest of Bahrain, compact and densely packed, and with so many apparently imported workers that it looks and feels even more like India than Terminal 2 at Dubai airport does. So of course, you drive your car through it. I mean, it’s barely wide enough to walk through and full of people, but you’ve got a horn you can lean on and you’re not going to get hurt so why the hell not?

Some deafeningly loud traditional music going on. Today I learned that Bahrain’s traditional music is “whack a drum as hard as you can and scream as loud as you can in a confined space”, which some people, for example deaf people, might call charming.

In the souk you can buy everything from:


And it’s the middle-east, so you can also pick up your daily household needs such as: