The U.S. Consulate over here had given expats the go ahead on traveling to Bahrain. The protestors have now centralized themselves in the Pearl roundabout (the city center) and have done so rather peacefully the last few days. So, Jamie and I decided to go ahead and head over to Bahrain for the day, Saturday, February 26, 2011.
We usually work on a Saturday, but I had a scheduled day off and one of the Princes cancelled all schools and government offices because the King was coming in from his successful heart surgery from the USA. Interestingly, the cancelled all schools in the Kingdom, which meant a day off for Jamie too.
Bahrain only takes about 45 minutes to get to from our villa. Most of this time is spent driving on the causeway, the bridge they have built from KSA to Bahrain. It is a nice 4 lane highway, but you obviously have to stop several times for customs to get out of Saudi, customs to get into Bahrain, and insurance to get into Bahrain for your vehicle. Many expats and Saudis go to Bahrain for the shopping, pork products, and alcohol. There is actually a nightlife there, and their weekends are the same as the rest of the world (Saturday and Sunday).
We know of some people who "pork smuggle." The grocery stores and butchers there will simply label your pork product as "beef" if you tell them it is for the "bridge." Jamie and I didn't chance this. A very select few people will also bring in alcohol and even Christmas trees (which they have to tell the border people are "patio trees").
We had wanted to go to this restaurant at a place called The Country Club, but we could not find it on our GPS. Instead, we followed directions for a place called Ric's Kountry Kitchen, a pretty well known restaurant that caters to expats. We got there early enough for breakfast and has some delicious pig (sausage and bacon) to go along with some biscuits and gravy.
It was still early, but we thought we'd hit up City Center, a rather nice mall closer to downtown. It is complete with a very nice movie theater serving "pizza cones" (yes, literally a pizza inside of a cone) and even a water park. We shopped around for a little while and finally decided to watch "The Tourist." It was decent. Angelina Jolie was nice to watch although for some reason, so just doesn't do it for me.
After the movie, we hit up this steak house at the mall, then headed back across the causeway to KSA.
Overall, a great little day getaway that we'll definitely need to start doing more often. Many people even go over there for evenings.