The cruise ship I am working is cruising around the Middle East and a stop that we have frequented a few times is Manama, Bahrain. Having been there a few times, I think the best way to see this city is through doing an excursion. A lot of places in the world you can explore on your own, but for this city, I think a bit of guidance is favourable.
I only really came to this conclusion after my third visit here, which turned out to be my last, so I’ll tell you about the things I did that perhaps you can do if you really don’t want to book an excursion.
Firstly, you should know that from the port into Manama it takes 1 hour. They say it’s 45 minutes which it would be with no traffic, so just assume an hour to be safe. The cruise line will provide shuttle buses to the city, so you don’t have to organise or pay for anything when it comes to transport.
The buses drop you off in the main square by a KFC. This is an easy meeting point because if you get lost and you need to find your way back. All you have to do is go and ask for directions to the one KFC in the city.
Just to the left of the bus station, through the archway of a white building, is a market place. It is a market where you can haggle and it sells a multitude of things, from clothes to spices, but it is in air-conditioned shops. The colourful clothes are very tempting and although I’m not the most excellent cook, I was drawn in by the spices.
There are a lot of Tailor’s around here, and as my most worn piece of clothing is a tailored jacket which I had made in Vietnam, I thought ‘why not get another one made?’ I weaved in and out of the tailor shops trying to decide what item of clothing I wanted to have made and which shop I wanted to make it. What made my decision was whether I liked the shop owner or not, so after going into about 12 shops and talking to various people, I finally decided on a shop which was called Faisal’s and this happened to also be the name of the owner. He was easy to talk to and spent his time talking about what it was that I wanted. I am a sucker for a tailored suit but don’t actually own one so, I thought this was my chance. Faisal talked me through the different materials I could have, and the advantages of them all. To have trousers, a jacket, a skirt and a shirt made, it was £100, which is a fantastic deal when you think that if you brought an untailored suit from Zara in the UK it would most likely be a lot more than that.
I put the order in for my suit during the first visit to Manama, so when I went back the 2nd time I could try on and see if any adjustments had to be made. My second visit was a week later and It did need adjusting slightly, the shirt was a little loose and the skirt was too tight so, I left it with him to make the adjustments. Another week passed and my suit was ready to wear. I am so happy with it as it fits perfectly!
If you are only going to be here once, then I wouldn’t recommend having anything made because although they can ship it to your home address, it might not be perfect. You could probably do it in two visits if you asked for something to be made the first time you were here, and then for your second time here, you would have to try it on as early as possible, so the seamstress has the best part of the day to make any changes and then pick it up just before you need to leave.
All that shopping can make you hungry so a brilliant place to eat in Manama is called Charcoal Grill. This is located in the main square where the coach will drop you off, you can’t miss it. Although from the outside it looks like a fast food joint, don’t be fooled. They serve the most incredible local cuisine here for local prices. I usually try a new restaurant every time I’m in a place but, all three times I was in Manama I ate here because it was so darn good.