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Sleepy Girl

My travel to Bahrain went as smooth as it possibly could have. The airports were all quiet, transportation was smooth, I had an empty seat next to me on the long flight, and I found Darren at the Abu Dhabi airport with no trouble. I think altogether it took about 19 hours to get door to door, but it’s worth it. Now that I’m back in Bahrain, it kind of feels like I never left. I was noticing things that have changed since I was last here—new construction and such. The dirt street outside Darren’s flat is slowly being paved. When I say slow, I mean they’ve paved about 20 yards since I was here six months ago. Ha! It does help, though.

As you may notice from the title of this post, it’s been a lazy day. I slept in and I’ve already had two good naps today. But that’s what post-travel day is for. I actually feel pretty good overall.

Let’s talk about food. If you know me, you know I love to cook and eat. We had brunch today at The Dome. This is the place near base that has the best latte I’ve ever had. It’s a restaurant out of Australia and unfortunately they are nowhere in the U.S. Great food, broad menu, and seriously good coffee. I had a large latte that did not disappoint. I followed that with a stack of banana pancakes, my first real meal in 24 hours. Plane food does not count as a meal. I requested vegetarian meals on the plane because something about airplane meat is not right. All I had eaten in 20+ hours was a tiny salad, broccoli, a few bites of bad pasta, water crackers, green beans, and cubed carrots and peas. I noticed the man sitting closest to me had a chocolate-dipped cookie on his last plate of food. Why didn’t I get a cookie? Requesting a vegetarian meal doesn’t mean I’m avoiding desserts. Odd. Then I wondered if the cookie was somehow made with a meat product. Yuck. Let’s not go there.

Big Men

I’m at the airport and there seems to be a large contingency of beefy, athletic men all around. Looks like the NFL combine is wrapping up and potential players are heading home. One poor fella at the ticket counter was having a hard time. The NFL booked his ticket and while he had a reservation, there was no ticket number on file. I’m sure he’ll work it out, but I felt for him. He was so polite and calm about the whole thing. I say put him on an NFL team and let him be a good example to people of how to behave.

Travel Day

Today is the day I start traveling to Bahrain. Always a bit nerve racking getting ready to leave. Everything is packed and set to go now. I’m ready to start my 20+ hour trek. Hoo wee.! 20+ hours of cars, airports, trams, tiny airplane seats, and lots of strangers. Time to breathe deep, calm myself, and prepare for lots of things over which I have no control.

No sweat. I got this.

Back to Bahrain

I’m getting ready to head back to Bahrain for a couple of weeks. I’m less nervous now that I’ve been there before. I’m excited that it won’t be 100 degrees with 90 percent humidity this time! I’ll try to post something new each day. I have a feeling this will be a busy, over-before-I-know-it kind of trip. 

Darren and me

My friend Cindy asked to see a photo of Darren and me. Here it is! We took this photo on our 14th floor balcony in Abu Dhabi on the last day of our trip. I hated to leave this sweet man behind in the Middle East, but he has a job to do and I’ll see him again soon. Seeing him half way around the world was a treat.

Home sweet home

I’m back in the U.S. I got home late Thursday night. The long flight from Abu Dhabi to Chicago was just over 14 hours. I spent the time watching five movies—Water for Elephants, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Limitless, Something Borrowed, and Green Lantern. I couldn’t sleep much, so the movies passed the time. I had a whole row to myself, which made the trip more comfortable. 

I felt good yesterday until about 5 p.m. I took naps on and off until 10 p.m. I was up until 1 a.m., then slept until 5 a.m. Today, Saturday, I feel sad and out of sorts. The trip abroad was such a good experience that I wasn’t ready for it to end. 

On a side note, the weather at home is great. It’s fall and I’m relieved to be out of the 100 degree temperatures. It was raining the night I got home and I was never happier to see water. What a beautiful sight—rain and clouds. Two things I hadn’t seen in a month.

 

Thorough check-in

I’m at my gate for my flight. I had the most thorough check-in and it was a neat process. The entire gate is enclosed in glass. To get in, I first had my documents approved. Check. Next I went through another security line right at the gate—xray and scanners and all. Check. Then I got in a third line where they checked me in and gave me back my ticket stub. Check. Now I have a seat and wait. It’s pretty cool. I’m praying for an empty seat next to mine on the plane. Everybody cross your fingers.

On the way here, the flight time was shown on my itinerary as 13 hours 55 minutes. It ended up being a 12-hour flight. The flight home is shown as 15 hours 10 minutes. I’d be grateful for anything under 14 hours. I’m getting more excited to step foot into my little house tonight.  

Empty plane

A quick note about our flight from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The plane was enormous – I’m sure at least 300 seats. There were maybe 40 people on the entire plane, including the crew. If that flight had been in the U.S., it would have been cancelled for lack of capacity. We had to photograph it to show how strange it looked. 

The coolest part about this flight—the outdoor camera. We had a take-off and landing view from the front of the plane. It was too neat. I’ve never seen that before. 

 

 

A day of gluttony

Wednesday was a day of luxury. We flew from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi in the morning. We rode in an Audi A8 from the airport to the Beach Rotana, where this whole journey began. Back to our fancy hotel. We checked into the hotel upstairs in the lounge. While we finished checking in we had a couple of cappuccinos. The sales director, Halim, with whom we had dinner a few times, booked our room for us. He upgraded us to the corner suite on the 14th floor. Our room had a vestibule, a dining room, guest bath, living room, and separate master suite. It was unreal. The bedroom had windows wrapping the corner of the building. Our balcony was long and wrapped around the corner as well. Talk about luxurious. I was almost speechless. 

After we got our things settled, we went downstairs to have lunch at the buffet. How I will miss the buffet. This time I made sure to try things I had not had before. We overindulged in desserts. There were these little bird nest desserts. From what I can figure, it was shredded phyllo dough with a sugary, cheesecake-type filling, dripping in honey. Absolutely delicious. We tried several other new pastries, also, including the dessert of the day—hazelnut fig pudding.

After lunch we took a two hour nap in our suite. Then we went back to the lounge for more coffee. I had a latte this time. We talked and laughed about how gluttonous we were being. But it’s not often we have days like that. To stretch out our limbs, we went for a walk through the mall. I bought a fancy pair of sunglasses. Darren is all about sunglasses right now and we found a Giorgio Armani pair  I could not resist. My indulgence for this trip. 

We met Halim back in the lounge at 8 p.m. He wanted to know how we liked our room. =) He’s a very good man. We told him he was very generous and thanked him profusely. We chatted for a while, then I excused myself to go call my sister. She lost a very good friend this week and I needed to hear her voice. When I got back to the lounge, Halim expressed his sincere condolences for the loss of Sammy. He said some very sweet things that elevated my respect for him. 

When we got back to our suite for the night, Darren ran me a bubble bath in the jacuzzi tub. It was heavenly. He put a good squeeze of bubble bath in the water and the jets made tons of suds. It was kind of funny—like one of those overflowing washing machine scenes from a movie. When the suds started going over the side of the tub, I emptied the water, crushed some of the bubbles, then filled the tub again. Ahh.

This morning, Thursday, October 13, room service delivered breakfast at 5:30 a.m., courtesy of Halim. We took another private car back to the airport at 6:15 a.m.. It’s time for this wonderful trip to come to an end and for me to come home to the U.S. Darren’s plane has already left for Bahrain. He’ll be home before my plane leaves Abu Dhabi. Right now I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my gate to open. I really need to just walk and stay upright until my plan boards. I’ll be sitting long enough then.

Goodbye, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. It’s been a wonderful month.

 

 

Monday’s report

Monday – my first day of the second part of my vacation. I slept in a little bit, then I re-shot some photography outside using one of Darren’s lenses. I learned some things on Sunday’s photo shoot that made me want to recapture a few villa photos. I think I get to bring home the fancy lens from Darren. He says he doesn’t use it here. It’s a great lens, but it’s heavy and it’s huge compared to my camera. It’s a funny sight. I would gladly get used to it, though. 

Darren worked in the morning, then he came home around lunch time. We hung out for about three hours, then we went back to base together. I sat in his cubicle with him for a little while, then we worked out. Keeping up with a Navy SEAL who works out twice a day is not an easy task. I’ve run on the treadmill three days in a row now. I’m proud of that, but I would probably give myself at least a day in between at home. AND I’ve been running 30 minutes at a time. At home I could barely make 20 minutes. So being here has helped my running quite a bit. It’s motivational when you are working out on a Navy base with lots of muscled men. I can’t look like a wimp!

I showered in the women’s locker room after my run. Darren got cleaned up in his locker room, then we walked down the street to The Dome. This is the restaurant we visited on Sunday with the great coffee. I had a small latte this time. It’s still the best latte ever—I have now confirmed that. For dinner I had spaghetti with roasted eggplant, red peppers, and zucchini, with a drizzle of olive oil and a shot of red pepper flakes. My poor mouth was warm and tingly from the red pepper flakes, but it was really tasty.

I’m starting to get sad about leaving Bahrain and Darren. Today is our last day in Bahrain. Tomorrow morning we fly back to Abu Dhabi. That’s a nice, short flight and we’ll get to spend the rest of the day at the Beach Rotana hotel where this whole adventure started. Thursday morning Darren goes back to Bahrain and I head home to the U.S. Sigh. Bittersweet.