Since we only had two full days in Manama, we were up at a decent hour to grab some breakfast before seeing some of the sights. Just a couple of hundred feet from our hotel was the Bab al-Bahrain. Known as the 'Gateway to Bahrain', it was once the terminus of the customs pier which provided us some idea of the extent of land reclamation in the area. The Tourist Department and a souvenir shop were in the building now.
Adam: I thought of you when Steven popped into a tiny store to get a bottle of water and I saw these Twix ice cream bars. I love Twix bars but even I couldn't see myself eating ice cream before breakfast! Have you ever had one?
We didn't see many viable breakfast options so when we spotted Mickey D's, we ate there. (I am writing this post from Gondar, Ethiopia, and am practically salivating when I think of what I would do for a McDonald's fix right about now as the restaurant options in this town are few and far between!)
Coming from Egypt where we had seen very few modern buildings, few signs of any wealth or prosperity, no modern architecture and overwhelming poverty by and large to the skyscrapers and attractive architecture of Manama was startling.
I wasn't able to take as many pictures as I would have liked because, once we started driving to our first destination, my primary role was supposed to be the navigator and no longer the 'official photographer' on the trip. I wished you could have seen me trying to figure out where we were on the map and on the iPad - even though the dratted blue dot on that thing never seemed to keep up with where we were in real time - and telling Steven when and where to turn AND trying to sneak photos in focus, mind you, out the car window when I could! All that to say, I sure hope you like the photo of the Sail Monument!
We managed to find our way to Beit al-Quran which is supposed to house a large and striking collection of Qurans, manuscripts and woodcarvings. However, we discovered it was closed because it was Friday, the Muslim Sabbath.
We drove next to the Bahrain National Museum where we noticed the parking lot was partially covered to protect the cars and people from the summertime blistering heat where temperatures can reach in excess of 45 degrees Celsius.
There a number of cars with license plates that said ‘KSA’ on them which we knew to mean they were from the neighboring Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We had hoped to be able to visit Saudi Arabia on this trip but found out early on that the country does not allow non-Muslim tourists to enter.
It was so hot that Steven was very happy that I was able to get a decent shot of him right away so we could escape into the air conditioned interior.
'Angels and Demons'
I liked the 'Cattle' sculptures but felt sorry for the person responsible for having to dust the mirrored base!
I loved the intricate lacey design in the 'Coral Sea with Bird.'
This sculpture was titled 'Shell with Bird.' It was apparent that living in such close proximity to the Persian Gulf had strongly influenced many of the painters and sculptors whose works we saw.
For at least 7,000 years - probably for much longer - people have lived in Bahrain. For most of that time, they left no written records, no accounts of what they did or how they lived. All the time, however, they left records of another sort. Everything they made and everything they threw away, even their bones remained - subject to the ravages of time - to help archeologists of their lives and doings.
For at least 2,000 years, fishermen and hunters roamed Bahrain. Their tools and weapons made of flint survived. Elsewhere in these centuries, the first cities were being built, long distance trade was developing and the first ships were beginning to sail the seas. Some reached Bahrain and sherds of the pots they carried lie among the flint. (When I saw the word 'sherd,' I thought for sure it was a typo and that it was supposed to be 'shard.' I googled it and discovered that, according to wikipedia, i'n archaeology, a sherd, or more precisely, potsherd, is commonly a historic or prehistoric fragment of pottery, although the term is occasionally used to refer to fragments of stone and glass vessels, as well. Occasionally, a piece of broken pottery may be referred to as a shard.')
During the formative, early and late periods of the ancient Dilmun civilization in Bahrain, its residents began trading with others, the cities prospered and temples were built. Finally, wealth from the new incense trade financed the building of a new palace.