Apparently, I now like to do Active Things in my Active Wear. Some might even want to call me athletic after all the scuba-diving and bike-riding lately.
With our imminent departure from Bahrain looming on the horizon, and the unlikely possibility that we will ever return, we have been thinking about all those ‘things we haven’t done,’ which always comes up at the end of a contract. This month in the Time Out Bahrain, they listed 102 Things to Do in Bahrain and Auntie L decided we should try some of them. First on the list- a bike ride around Bahrain.
Uh. What? Come again? This island is not really made for bike rides. In fact, I’ve only ever seen two types of people riding bikes here- racers, decked out in their tight unitards, aerodynamic helmets, and dark sunglasses, racing the deserted streets from the International Circuit to the beach, and gardeners and car washers, weighted down with buckets and tools, going from one house to the other, working hard for their money.
There are barely sidewalks. There are no real parks to speak of, and there’s an awful lot of sand.
Really? A bike ride?
Well, color me surprised. Auntie L and B, between the two of them and B’s working phone, made the arrangements with Hessa from Global Wheels for a 3 1/2 hour bike ride, starting at the Bahrain Financial Harbour. I admit, this did give me pause because the Financial Harbour is directly downtown. Like, the middle of the city. But okay, I’m up for an adventure.
We met in the parking garage of the West building at 9:30am, picked our bikes and helmets, put a water bottle in our bags and set off. There were five of us, two other adventurers, and Hessa. We rode along the main highway for a few minutes then veered off towards the ocean. It was a beautiful day- blue skies, a scattering of fluffy white clouds, and a cool breeze. Even the traffic was pretty light that early in the morning. As we made our way towards the Bahrain Fort, I was able appreciate a road I’d driven a million times from a very different view point.
Our first stop was the Bahrain Fort. We stopped for a water break, then rode up and around the fort on our way back into the neighborhoods around Saar.
If you’ve read any of my previous traveling posts, you’ll remember that I’m not a good researcher. I honestly had no idea where we were going on this trip. I thought the Royal Camel Farm was on the list, and that was about as far as my knowledge of what was happening extended. So I was pleasantly surprised when our next stop was the tiny little shop of a local basket weaver. He had pictures plastered all over the shop of the items he’d made- baskets, fans, decorative wall hangings, bags, and even entire roofs, including his own! He showed us how they weaved the dried palm leaves- five on one side, four on the other, take the first one on the end, weave it under the third, pull it tight and do the same from the other side. Auntie L gave it a go and decided she would probably be setting up shop on the beaches of Florida, making baskets for the tourists.
We hopped back on our bikes and rode to the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen in Bahrain. Why, WHY did I not know about this place? The beach was clean and white, the water was cool and clean, and there was hardly anyone there! I made an immediate executive decision, sent photos to the Rugby Star, and declared we would be bringing the girls and the dogs back ASAP. Our group ate sandwiches, looked for seashells, rested our aching bums, and then got back to it.
It was time to start making our way back towards our starting point. We rode through a little village town, friendly people waving and honking as we passed. A sign pointed us towards the Bahrain Fort Gardens and I was pleasantly surprised to find actual gardens! I mean, rationally I knew there must be farms and gardens in Bahrain, as we have a Farmers Market and roadside stands and trucks filled with watermelons and pumpkins, but I had not yet seen one. We stopped off and tried a chili tomato which was delicious, I took a couple of pictures, and we were off again.
The final surprise of the tour was a small street we drove down with houses shaded by large, leafy trees (the first picture under Experiences is a photo of this street). The houses were mostly deserted, but had been painted by local school children. They were colorful and happy-looking places. You could easily picture a street of restored, traditional houses, serving as apartments or even boutique houses for vacationers… except the street wasn’t really in a desirable area. But it was beautiful. I didn’t get any pictures because we were sort of hurrying to get back on time. I may have to go back.
The ride back was a little hotter and a lot louder as people were out and about in town. A strong wind kicked up a few times and made the biking a tiny bit more challenging, but we all made it back. It was a surprising and wonderful way to spend a morning in Bahrain, and I would definitely recommend Hessa and her bike tour to anyone looking for something a little different to do in Bahrain.