The pool, the beach, and across a little bay in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf to some of the cool buildings in downtown Manama

Why on earth would we spend five days in Bahrain? From Yerevan we connected through Dubai and flew on to Manama, Bahrain, the island kingdom’s capital just off the Arabian peninsula. “Why,” my Armenian seat mate who worked in Dubai asked, “would you go to Bahrain?” And as Mark went through immigration when we arrived there the agent kept asking “But what are you doing here?” as if to say “People don’t just come here on holiday.”

There aren’t really many good reasons except the one that finally satisfied the immigration agent: this was Mark’s 118th country. It’s what we do. There was a U.S. Navy base here in the 1970s and I remember from those days that I was intrigued; it was supposed to be about the worst duty station you could draw. But mostly it was really just about checking off a box. We had (modestly) enjoyed the visits earlier this year in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Oman and figured this would be similar. On top of that our goal was to fly to Alexandria and oddly Bahrain is one of the relatively few places where you can fly direct. So we flew to Bahrain and spent five days in the Persian Gulf or, as they call it here not so surprisingly, the Arabian Gulf. Arabs and Iranians aren’t the best of neighbors, you see.

Here I am enjoying the pool

What’s there to do in Bahrain? Not much to be honest. Our hotel had a nice little private beach and a beautiful pool, so we could hang out there. We found an Indian restaurant we liked so we could go there a couple of times, which beat the hell out of the overpriced food available at the hotel. There’s a national history museum that was definitely worth a couple of hours. I mean, I’d never heard of the Dilmun civilization, but now I know a little bit about it, especially their mound burial practices which made up a big part of the exhibit. And I learned a little bit about pearl diving, the mainstay of their economy over a few centuries until oil was discovered.

Otherwise, not so much to do, nowhere near as interesting as the other Gulf states (which weren’t really that interesting). The hotel was beautiful and a lot cheaper than it would be most anywhere else so that was nice. But in contrast to our stay in Dzoraget a couple weeks ago where Mark was bored while I found it pleasant, this time Mark enjoyed being laid back and I was bored. That’s OK, from here we’re off to Egypt where there should be a lot of interesting things to see.

That’s our hotel. I found the architecture a little austere, brutal even, though Mark liked it. That building in the background is interesting, though. It was reasonably close to our beach and at one point when I was lying there reading a book on genetics (A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived) that I was enjoying I looked up and thought “Oh my god, that’s a double helix from some DNA!”

The cool skyscrapers across the bay from us in twilight

Another cool new building

And another shot of the pool, the beach, and the city. See, I told you there wasn’t much here.