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In early April, my trip to Arabia was only for one week. I will try not to do long trips in future. Even with only 9 days of travel I still missed my daughter’s 8th birthday. That’s not a good feeling!
I started my trip with 2 days at an international workshop. I was an invited speaker, I was on the scientific committee and I moderated one of the two panel discussions. This is the first time that I’ve been that involved in a workshop and it was an enriching experience. I was also the only woman involved in the technical program and at times my abaya and hijab felt restrictive but the men were respectful and welcoming towards me.
I took a relaxing weekend in Bahrain, where I did some of the things that I’m not allowed to do in Arabia; I swam in the hotel pool in my bikini, drank wine, had dinner with a couple, walked alone around Manama, went to a cafe and used the hotel gym. The highlight of my weekend was the temporary exhibition at the National Museum on Berber women of Morocco.
Back in Arabia I experienced my first sand storm. The wind was so strong that I was nearly lifted off the ground. My lips were coated in fine sand and me colleagues laughed as the wind tore at my abaya and hijab. After another couple of days working in Arabia I flew to Perth.
I hate the accommodation in Perth. It’s overpriced, run-down and depressing. This time I booked a room at a B&B in Fremantle and hired a car from the airport to drive there. The overall cost was less than a room in Perth and cabs but it allowed me some freedom and enjoyment that I wouldn’t otherwise have had.
I booked the room using Booking.com and upon arrival at Perth airport I found several missed calls. I discovered that the room was double-booked at 30 Arundel St and that the owner had booked me into the B&B next door (Fremantle Holiday Accommodation) instead. Upon arrival, with his instructions, I cancelled 30 Arundel St and paid him the fee for Fremantle Holiday Accommodation instead. Neither would then issue me with a receipt which was dodgy and made it difficult for me to make a claim from my work to cover the expense.
I headed up the coast with the hire car, stopping at several beaches and enjoying a coffee from a cool coffee bus at North Fremantle beach. After strolling along part of Scarborough Beach I headed back to Cottesloe Beach so that I could sit in the pub and watch the sun set from over the ocean.
I dined at Cott & Co. Fish Bar with flambé prawns, salad and a negroni cocktail in which the waiter decreased the alcohol content because I was driving. I was unable to get a table in the window but I still had a view as the sun set behind the clouds. After my meal, I sipped a cup of lemongrass tea and read A Man Called Ove. I stifled my laughter and after a while the waitress came and asked what I was reading and if I was enjoying it, later a waiter brought me a candle to help me read more easily in the dim lighting.
My room in the B&B didn’t have a window, which was a bit claustrophobic but otherwise was very comfortable and the other guests were quiet. My business meetings in Perth the next day went well and before I knew it I was on my way back home to my family and celebrating my daughter’s birthday.