It’s my first time to go to Bahrain and if you’re like one of our followers in Instagram, you’ll question WHY?!? Bahrain is super close to Saudi Arabia, so accessible and so convenient to go to. Well folks, EXACTLY. If I’m going out of Saudi Arabia I would like to go to a country that’s a bit far away from it and won’t remind me of the desert that it is. So I usually go to somewhere cold or somewhere tropical. So this is why I haven’t been to Bahrain. I think that it’s too much like Saudi Arabia only with the things that are not allowed here. Get what I mean? But during my weekend in Bahrain courtesy of Residence Inn by Marriott Juffair, I found out that I’m being judgmental of this little Kingdom and that I am so wrong in my presumptions. The Kingdom of Bahrain is so different from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia!
Before I start with the story of our journey, I’ll just get this out of the way: we’ll be publishing a separate entry on “Planning for Bahrain” which will answer questions on visas, budget, etc. so please hold your questions and do watch the blog for that. It will be published soon, we promise! Reina and I had a hard time with our visas because our iqamas (Saudi resident card) are expiring and it was only four days before our flight that we discovered we had to have an iqama that is at least 3 months valid to enter Bahrain. Chaos ensued and that involved a little bit of a snag in the Fly Nas counter in the airport (more on our dilemma on the “Planning for Bahrain” entry) but it was solved by the good people of Marriott and the marketing guys over at Fly Nas and we eventually flew on the 6:50 PM trip to Bahrain on a Thursday night.
The flight was quick: only 1 hour and 10 minutes. It’s our kind of transportation to Bahrain as opposed to road tripping to Al Khobar for four hours and getting stuck in the traffic of the Causeway for an hour or so. Road tripping or riding the SAPTCO bus to Khobar and going through the Causeway is not that bad if you’re with your families and friends though. Anyway, the Fly Nas crew inside the plane were friendly and courteous. I passed the time by reading their in-flight magazine which is published in both English and Arabic; it’s chockfull of information on the Arab world’s culture and their other destinations. We also browsed their Skysales, an in-flight shopping catalog that lets customers shop in sky high style. There’s not much leg room in their seats but that’s alright since the flight was so short. We barely noticed the seatbelt off sign after take off when we’re being told to put our seat belts again for the landing.
The Immigration in Bahrain was a breeze to go through. We just had to fill up the disembarkation card and line up. It was so fast and fuss-free! In this early point of our trip, I already noticed how much Bahrain was different from Saudi Arabia, or even just Riyadh. I laud the changes that are happening in the King Khaled International Airport but they need more improvement when it comes to their staff. In Bahrain, we were met with a smile from their immigration officer; in Riyadh, we were met with an arrogant “SO?!?” by one of the airport officers when we politely asked if we can go to the fast track lane because our flight is flying in 30 minutes (it’s not our fault we were delayed at the counter)! You see the difference? Anyway, so we were out of the Bahrain International Airport within 15 minutes.
Welcome to Bahrain!
We were met by our driver from Hertz. On the way to our accommodation, we were treated to a really nice view of Bahrain’s skyline. All their buildings are lit up in different colors and patterns. Their highways are wide and has snarls of traffic here and there but it’s generally fast and safe. I was mesmerized by the sights and scenes that I didn’t even realize that we were already in the area of Juffair, a suburban neighborhood of Manama, Bahrain. Juffair has seen a fast progress in its construction activities in the large parts of land reclaimed from the sea (so yeah, a few years ago, most of this area was water!). It has been absorbed by the expansion of Manama. Juffair is pretty much the hip and happening place nowadays!
Bahrain is the best weekender vacation spot for locals and expats in Saudi Arabia. Apart from the proximity, there are just so many things to be seen and activities to do in this country. You all know how small yet how progressive Bahrain is right? We’re impressed! This is Reina’s third time in Bahrain and she’s still equally impressed as I was because she’s seeing how fast Bahrain has changed over the years. And in a good way.
Residence Inn, our Home Away From Home
The Residence Inn by Marriott Juffair hosted our weekend stay in Bahrain and it was the most fitting accommodation because of its chill and youthful vibes. We were welcomed by their Marketing staff led by Ms. Rania Shoukair, Director of Sales, Ms. Joanna Baldoza, PR and Marketing Executive, and Ms. Vanessa, Front Office Supervisor (thank you so much, ladies!). Residence Inn Manama Juffair is designed to provide travelers the comforts of home: rooms that have huge, comfortable beds, fully-equipped kitchens, bathrooms with a separate tub and shower, complimentary grocery and restaurant delivery service, complimentary Internet (yassss!) and breakfast, and a convenient connection to Al Raya Mall! What more can we ask for right? Even just staying in this hotel is a vacation in itself already! No need to go out! Haha! But of course, an itinerary in Bahrain is a must and the staff of the hotel helped in planning it. They actually get to know their guests and customize accordingly. That is the beauty of Residence Inn Mix. Whatever we’re doing, whoever we are, we feel right at home at Residence Inn. Our needs, and even wants, are met! As bloggers, we need internet all the time and their complimentary wifi has helped us a lot in documenting our Bahrain weekend.
We were given a 2-bedroom suite in the 19th floor. The hotel has 24 floors and 80 suites. Our suite was gorgeous and spacious! It’s too much for the two of us but we’re not complaining! Haha! Because our rooms were on the opposite side of the suite, Reina and I tend to shout at each other! (We gave up on the first day and resorted to messaging each other in Facebook instead. Haha!)
The suite also has a breathtaking view of Bahrain, or most of the neighborhood and the skyline in its balcony. My room has glass walls that gave me a panoramic view of the sea and the buildings all around me. Even my bathroom has glass walls!
The great thing about Residence Inn, apart from the rooms and the furnishing, is their warm hospitality. We had a personalized welcome greeting card from the staff! It included bottles of water, pitchers of freshly-squeezed fruit juices, pieces of fruits and cookies! We felt so pampered and cared for.
As much as we wanted to enjoy our suite immediately, we were starving! The ladies had reserved a table for us at Fakhrudin Cafe inside Al Raya Mall which is conveniently connected to Residence Inn by a door. Literally a door and a short path and we’re at the mall already! This is an advantage for those who want to shop for groceries. For those who are too tired to cook (like us), then the restaurants in Al Raya Mall are the answer!
Fakhrudin Cafe is a charming restaurant that serves Lebanese food. Yes, we miss our Arabic food like that. Haha! Most of the dishes were familiar to us. Their food is freshly-made with the finest ingredients. Yum!
Our small plates of appetizers are composed of Vine Leaves, Hummus, Moutabal, Tabouleh, Fattoush, and Baba Ghanouj. These dishes are very popular here in Saudi Arabia too. Remember when we said we were a bit confused on what differentiates Turkish, Arabic, and Lebanese food from each other? Well, does it matter? Their food is good! And we can really taste how fresh the ingredients they used were. I have to admit that I’m not really a fan of all these greens but mixed together and eaten with their warm bread… oh my goodness! I was converted!
Just when we thought we’re done with the starter came the hot starters! Yes, the cold and hot appetizers were separate and we’re just really starting our meal.
I really loved the chicken wings and the meat pastry. They were flavorful and leaves a longing for more savory goodness in my mouth. They weren’t over-the-top appetizers. They were just right. I had to stop myself from eating more because they weren’t our main meal. Still. Yes.
This is it:
When I saw this platter, I thought “Oh, just meats. What can be so special about them?” I’ve had a hundred of grilled chicken, lamb chops, and koftas in Riyadh. How can these be different? Well, I have to tell you honestly that these are some of the most tender meats I’ve ever have in my life! Especially those lamb chops! I’ve been having dreams about this long after I returned to Riyadh! They’re so soft and well-marinated that I must have ignored the other meats in my plate haha! But seriously, they’re really good! I was patting myself on the back for not filling my stomach of the starters because I just have enough space for the Mix Grill.
I also very much enjoyed their Avocado drink. It was so rich and sweet and indulgent. Thank you for the recommendation, Ms. Rania! And thank you for such a wonderful meal Chef Robert!
The walk back to the hotel was a blur. Reina and I were happy and full that the next thing we know, we’re back in our rooms smiling non-stop! Haha! It was a very nice start to our weekend in Bahrain and tomorrow is another day. And what a day it proved to be!
Our Day 1 in Bahrain up next in the blog! 🙂
Residence Inn Manama Juffair
Building 894, Road 2414, Block 324, Al Fateh
Manama 76151 Bahrain [MAP]
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/// Residence Inn and Executive Apartments by Marriott in Manama Juffair Bahrain are offering all our readers, likers, and followers a special discount when you book! Just quote the code D3Q and mention Reina when you book via phone at +973-1-736-3999.
BD 70 nett inclusive of wifi, breakfast, and taxes for a one-bedroom suite at Residence Inn Manama Juffair or a one-bedroom apartment at Marriott Executive Apartments.
BD 90 nett inclusive of wifi, breakfast and taxes for a two-bedroom suite at Residence Inn Manama Juffair or a two-bedroom apartment at Marriott Executive Apartments
First floor, Al Salam Centre
Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Street (Tahlia Street),
Olaya, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
T: +966 11 217 1800
Fax: +966 11 217 1830
Call Centre: +966 9200 01234 (within KSA) | +966 11434 9000 (international)
Al Raya Mall, Juffair,
T: +973 1783 0383