Last (and personally) first Call for Manama

Today was a quite interesting day, because after a few month I had my first “first timer” again. We had been every week in Manama, but only a few hours so it didn’t worked out to go into the city and, at least once, we weren’t allowed to because of rumors going on in Manama (as seen on TV).

But today we decided that we have to go at least one time to Manama. So we went through the quite detailed passport-control (not used to it, normally you just walk out the ship) and took the shuttle which brought us directly to downtown Manama. The first impression of Manama was quite dirty, lot of unfinished or destroyed houses in the suburbs. In the city itself you could see a lot of empty Buildings which where also not cleaned anymore, so they where really dusty. But just going around a few corners, you encountered really modern and quite futuristic skyscrapers like the Bahrain World Trade Center with integrated wind turbines!

After the shuttle dropped us in the middle of the chaos, we went right into the big market-area with hundreds of little shops and alleys and even more smells and sounds. As we had no map, we just walked on (like always) so we suddenly ended up in the middle of a big crowd of men starting their prayer in the middle of the street. Actually, the streets where completely blocked by people praying so we really had to hurry up because they literally used every spot on the floor. The situation was quite uncomfortable and we had a bad gut feeling, because of some black flags on the mosques and everybody was looking strange at us (especially at my girlfriend) so we decided to head back to the market area. It felt like back then in Casablanca, when we got lost in the slums…

Because we had to wait a bit for the shuttle and we were hungry, we decided to eat something and ended up with KFC… bad mistake. Or is KFC everywhere on the world so bad? Actually we though about something local, but didn’t made it to buy something in those small restaurants which were looking like not fulfilling the basic hygienic standards…

When you travel around the middle east, especially in the Emirates, you always can see that rich and poor are living next door. But Manama was quite extreme, in one second your walking through a completely new (and empty) mall, the other second you are lost in areas you normally know from movies, where some CIA agents hunting terrorists… almost. Interesting, but a one time only thing….

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