strivetoengage

Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving

Postcard 8 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller

From Bahrain Fort, my colleague and I went to our hotel, the Ramada in Adliya. I chose it because it’s close to Adliya (an excellent district for dining and people watching), it has a pool and gym, breakfast is included and so is WiFi, and it was priced very reasonably. The hotel has seen better days, the gym is the size of a hotel room so it would be uncomfortably intimate to use it with a stranger and the lobby is closed for renovations. My room did not offer sound proofing but I slept really well and made good use of the amenities, even if I did have to stand at the door to my room to get strong enough WiFi signal to talk on Skype to my family.

This place is so dilapidated that I think it will need to be knocked down

This place is so dilapidated that I think it will need to be knocked down

Excited at being back in Manama (capital city of Bahrain), I talked to my family then we set off to find my favourite restaurant. We walked past the lovely grounds of Gudabaiya Palace, past the old Palace, past girls’ Primary and Secondary schools, and through a rather run-down area that seems to house guest workers from South Asia.

Bougainvillea provide a welcome splash of colour in this region

Bougainvillea provide a welcome splash of colour in this region

Renovated and dilapidated side-by-side

Renovated and dilapidated side-by-side

This building is a Poet’s house and is in stark contrast to the dilapidated buildings that flank it. Imagine how lovely it would look if the whole area was renovated!

La Fontaine itself

La Fontaine itself

After walking through the run-down and at times smelly area, with twisting laneways, we finally found the delightful oasis of the converted courtyard home that hosts La Fontaine Restaurant and Centre of Contemporary Art. The centre is 150 years old and the only one of its kind throughout the Middle East. The property, belonging to the Alireza family, is very unique as it captures the grand essence of a European chateau, while retaining the charm of the fine, authentic Gulf Islamic architecture. It has been completely restored and renovated by French artist Jean Marc Sinan, who transformed a beautiful residential house into a distinctive, exceptional centre for art and leisure enthusiasts alike. It features a number of contemporary art galleries, an open-air amphitheatre, an exquisite fine dining restaurant, an exclusive spa, and a state-of-the-art Pilates & Dance Studio, the first of its kind in the Gulf region.

Wind Tower in La Fontaine Restaurant

Wind Tower in La Fontaine Restaurant

I first came here 2 1/2 years ago with my little brother for my birthday dinner. It was winter then and we sat outside by the fountain and delighted in the tranquil ambience and fine food. This time I saw the lovely complex by day and it was just as exquisite as by night. My colleague and I sat in the shade of a tree beside the fountain and enjoyed watching 5 different species of birds make the most of the oasis. I ate delicious sweet potatoes fritters for entree, a smoked salmon salad for main and a chocolate fondant for dessert (breaking my grain and sugar free diet!). I also indulged in my first alcoholic beverage since embarking on this trip, with a Bombay Sapphire G&T.

View across the inner courtyard towards the rear courtyard. Note the modesty shutters on the windows

View across the inner courtyard towards the rear courtyard. Note the modesty shutters on the windows

The area around La Fontaine has been allowed to become delapidated

The area around La Fontaine has been allowed to become delapidated

What sort of post would this be without a photo of a door?

What sort of post would this be without a photo of a door?

After lunch I sent my colleague to view the excellent Bahrain National Museum while I wandered back to our hotel and luxuriated in  running on the treadmill (impossible in an abaya), taking a dip in the pool then resting on a deck chair in my bikini with a book while sipping a G&T.

Sunset over Manama with the Royal Palace to the right and World Trade Centre in be distance

Sunset over Manama with the Royal Palace to the right and World Trade Centre in the distance

In the evening we wandered through Adliya and chose a lovely converted courtyard home which hosts Monsoon Restaurant. We were fortunate to be seated at the last table available in the outdoor section next to a cooling water garden that reminded me of the great water restaurants that we visited in Indonesia. I ate delicious gyoza and a refreshing Vietnamese salad of cabbage, prawn and grapefruit. As I wandered around after dinner looking for a quiet place to relax with a shisha pipe I was startled to find a pounding nightclub with women in strapless, thigh-length dresses which was in stark contrast to the entirely covered Arab women that had sat near us at the restaurant and to the ghost-like women that I see near my apartment in Saudi Arabia. I failed to find a quiet shisha lounge and settled for a soothing bath with my book instead.

Monsoon Restaurant, Adliya

Monsoon Restaurant, Adliya

My other posts so far on this trip:

https://strivetoengage.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/postcard-1-from-the-arab-world-a-female-solo-traveller/

https://strivetoengage.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/postcard-2-from-the-arab-world-a-female-solo-traveller/

https://strivetoengage.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/postcard-3-from-the-arab-world-a-female-solo-traveller/

https://strivetoengage.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/postcard-4-from-the-arab-world-a-female-solo-traveller/

https://strivetoengage.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/postcard-5-from-the-arab-world-a-female-solo-traveller/

https://strivetoengage.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/postcard-6-from-the-arab-world-a-female-solo-traveller/

https://strivetoengage.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/postcard-7-from-the-arab-world-a-female-solo-traveller/

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7 comments on “Postcard 8 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller

  1. Pingback: Postcard 9 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller | strivetoengage

  2. Pingback: Postcard 10 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller | strivetoengage

  3. Pingback: Postcard 11 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller | strivetoengage

  4. Pingback: Postcard 12 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller | strivetoengage

  5. Pingback: Postcard 13 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller | strivetoengage

  6. Pingback: Postcard 14 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller | strivetoengage

  7. Pingback: Postcard 15 from the Arab world – A female solo traveller | strivetoengage

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This entry was posted on October 27, 2014 by in middle east and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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