Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Big excitement this morning.

Big excitement this morning in our family.

Doug had just walked out the door to go to work at 6:20AM.  We get up at 5, work out at the gym, I cook him breakfast and he is out the door before 6:30 for the commute to Saudi Arabia from Bahrain.

I shut the door and went back to the kitchen.  My phone was flashing so I knew I had an email.  I pulled up the email and here is what it said:

Baby Bowlin Update

Having a different time zone is definitely one of the things I like least about being in the Middle East.

All I wanted to do was reach out and give Brittany and Randy a GREAT BIG HUG.  I wanted to pat Brit’s tummy and tell little Baby Boy Bowlin he was a very lucky little guy.

However it would be midnight in Florida so the virtual hugs and kisses went out to them instead.

I did however; grab my phone run out the door of our flat, fly down to the ground floor and rush out to the car where Doug was getting ready to drive away.  I held the phone up so the email told him the story.  He was very surprised and a huge smile covered his face.

I am sure Doug’s commute was much more enjoyable this morning. My morning is going to be spent thinking of something special I can do to celebrate this momentous event.  

But first I had a little cry. They were tears of joy!

It’s A Boy!  

This is going to be fun!


The ultrasounds during pregnancy are amazing.  

Does this mean he has big feet?
I think he is going to be a kicker.
Poor Brittany.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Perfect Souvenir

Today I made a trip into the heart of Manama to have my visa extended.  Every four weeks I must get a new visa.  Cost today was 60BD.  BD=2.36 US$.

When I apply for my Igama (a Saudi visa that lasts a long time) I won't have to do this every 4 weeks.  I am sure I will blog about that experience.

However, today in Manama I decided to do a bit of window shopping for an abaya.  This is the dress that muslim women wear.  I will need to have one when I apply for my Saudi Arabia Igama.

While I was shopping, I discovered the PERFECT souvenir to take home from Bahrain.  Arab salt and pepper shakers.

If you have been to my house, you know I have a small collection of salt and pepper shakers.  I have some antiques and a few novelty shakers.  These will be the perfect addition to the collection!

They even have the woman correct.  All the muslim ladies carry a purse on their arm just like the pepper shaker.  And, they all have heavy eye makeup as well.  It is just too perfect!

Aren't they cute?



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Greek Islands - just beautiful

Our next stop in Greece after Athens was the island of Mykonos. The drive from our hotel in the heart of Athens took us into the suburbs.  The port was very crowded and there really was not a system for passengers to load or unload the boat.  Everyone crowded around the entrance to the boat and tried to get on.  There were trucks, cars and motorcycles loading at the same time.  To say it was not safe is an understatement.

The port at Lavrio was very busy. 
This was definitely a safety hazard.
Our trip there was by high-speed boat.  That was interesting. It was a boat for several hundred people and it went really, really fast.  

Unloading on the other end was the same way as loading in Athens.  A big platform came down on the back of the boat and everyone fought to see who could be the first one off.
If you are reading this in an email, you can go to my blog and see a video from the inside of the boat with people fighting to get off. (Videos do not come through in the email.)

Doug and I looked at each other while this was going on and we knew we were thinking the same thing.... Jacobs would not approve.

Luckily we had a special driver waiting for us holding up our name on a sign and it was easy to see our transportation.
Our hotel sat on the edge of a hill and the view was wonderful.
Our hotel had an amazing view. Everywhere the scenery was picturesque. The first night in Mykonos we went to dinner in an area called Little Venice and watched the sunset from the prettiest seaside restaurant.  Again, the food was amazing.

After Mykonos we traveled to the island of Santorini.  Santorini was our favorite location of the entire vacation.  It was spectacular.

As we approached the port, again by high-speed boat, we could tell it was going to be a beautiful location. Cliffs completely surrounded the island.

Our hotel sat on the side of a cliff looking out over a dormant volcano.  The name of the hotel was Volcano View.  And, the view was spectacular. Every time we looked out, we were amazed.  Even Doug was spell bound.  He is not often in awe of a view, but this view really was unbelievable.

There is a video here that was shot at sundown from right in front of our suite.  If you are reading the email of this blog, you will need to go to the blog to see this spectacular view.  :-)

During our stay in Santorini we also had fabulous food.  Every meal was an experience.  Even lunches were unbelievable.  We tried to adopt the "Greecian" way to do things and even drank instant coffee made on our little hot pad in our room.  Instant coffee is THE morning drink in Greece.  YUK!  There are very few Starbucks in Greece.

One day we took a cruise on a catamaran around the island with stops to swim. At one stop we went swimming in volcano thermals.  That was a very unique experience.

At the end of the cruise, we were served a fantastic grilled seafood and lamb dinner and then watched a beautiful sunset from the water looking over the volcano. It was a very special experience.

On our last night, we had wine on our patio overlooking the Aegean Sea.  We toasted a successful vacation and agreed, we would happily come back to Santorini!
Our flight back to Athens was on Aegean Air, a “Southwest” type airline.  Luckily I thought in advance and reserved seats.  Again, it was a fight for who could get to the plane first.

Back in Athens, we spent another wonderful day and night exploring the Athens Flea Market, as well as the Psirri and the Playka districts.  When it came time for dinner, we decided to go back a second time to a restaurant we were at previously in Psirri.  It was just too picturesque and the food was fantastic.

After dinner, Doug decided we needed to experience Ozo at one of the “smoking” bars.  It was late, the drink was very strong.  Doug did not last very long after the first sip.  It was great to see him completely relaxed.  LOL

We are back home now and we have some wonderful memories from a very beautiful part of the world.  Doug and I agree that we would love to go back again.  It was a very unique experience and certainly worth doing a second time.

That is a sure sign of a successful vacation.  We would do it again!



Every sunset was beautiful, right up until the very last Athens night.  CHEERS!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Vacation

One of the goals when we moved to the Middle East was to be able to travel to places that are far away from the US.

We just returned from our first trip.  We traveled to Athens and also visited the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini.

Every sunset on the vacation was wonderful.  This was the very first sunset looking out over the roof tops of Athens from the top of our hotel.
It was a spectacular trip.  Doug has been working very long hours and the trip was a great opportunity for him to recharge.

Doug’s office was closed the last week of Ramadan for Eid al-Fitr. Not a lot of work gets done during this time. Taking off during Eids gave us a great chance to visit Greece only 4.5 hours away from Bahrain.

FYI -- Here is what Wikipedia says about Eid al-Fitr.

Eid al-Fitr "festival of breaking of the fast"), also called Feast of Breaking the Fast, the Sugar Feast, Bayram (Bajram), the Sweet Festival and the Lesser Eid, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The religious Eid is a single day during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. This is a day when Muslims around the world show a common goal of unity. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on the observation of new moon by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality. However, in most countries, it is generally celebrated on the same day as Saudi Arabia.

In Bahrain, Eid is a big party and all normal business shuts down.  Sort of like Christmas except it lasts for several days.

With the office closed for an entire week, we were off to Greece to do our own celebrating. Neither one of us had ever been to Greece. Doug has been all over the globe and it is fun to go somewhere he has not visited.

Cocktails on top of our hotel with a view of the Acropolis.  Spectacular!

Athens was so much fun and a truly great experience.  We spent an entire day visiting the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. The history was interesting however the climb up to the Acropolis was long and hard.  Very steep, very long, very hot!

The Acropolis was so much bigger than I expected.  I can not imagine how they built it.  The guides said it was not built by slaves, the Grecians paid workers to build it.
One of the best parts of Athens was the food.  OMG, we were shocked at how great the food was.

Greek beer is pretty good.  The wine is also nice.

One night at dinner we could see the Acropolis high on the hill from our table.

The Greek Salad was fantastic at every restaurant. We had some at almost every meal it was so good!

Next we visited the island of Mykonos and Santorini.  I will write about those wonderful islands in my next blog.