Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Last Walk at the Ritz

Doing something ordinary can sometimes allow you to think and recall a great memory. This is happened to me this morning. It has been three weeks since we left Bahrain and I was standing at my sink in our little beach condo washing romaine lettuce.

Our view today out over the marina.
A couple of nights ago I used the last of my romaine lettuce cooking dinner for BHB and her family.  I have to say one thing I learned in Bahrain was how to make an awesome salad.  I was never a very good cook before.

There I am, standing over the sink, looking out at the boats in the marina, pushing bad leaves of romaine down the garbage disposal (a luxury we did not have in Bahrain).  I thought of Bahrain and my morning walks at the Ritz-Carlton.

One EXCEPTIONALLY enjoyable part of the Middle East experience was our membership at the Ritz-Carlton’s Royal Sporting Club. This resort was the “country club” for Bahrain.

We were given a family membership to the Ritz as part of the lease for our flat. The Ritz was located just across the street from our flat -- close and very enjoyable.
Beyond the Ritz's island and marina, the dhow fishing boats would go out at sunset and return at sunrise. This is the view from our flat as they were going out one evening.
This is a view from the windows in our flat of the King's Highway. We crossed this beautiful street to get to the Ritz each morning.
The Ritz had a wonderful gym, indoor pools and exercise classes. They also had amazing outdoor grounds. The resort is quite spectacular and we tried to take advantage of our membership almost every day.

Most mornings during the workweek, Hubby D and I would rise at 4:50 AM and walk across our street to the gym for a 45-minute workout. He used the elliptical machine and other gym equipment. I varied my workout from swimming, weight lifting and just walking the paths around the grounds. There was also a water aerobics class twice weekly and I enjoyed snorkeling in the lagoon a few times.

This is the indoor pool where I swam laps and took water aerobics.
The Ritz always has one table reserved by the indoor pool.  Who is it reserved for?  The King.

When we walked across the street together, the guards at the Ritz gate would greet Hubby D but only nod at me.  Only when I was alone would they greet me. In the Middle East it is not respectful to talk to a man’s wife if she is walking with him.

This is the gate to the Ritz complex.

My walks at the Ritz were definitely a highlight of my stay in Bahrain.

Many days, I would return to the Ritz after Hubby D left for the office to sit in the spa or take an additional extended walk.

My route from our flat to the Ritz took me past the Ritz fleet of limos, a long row of Lexus sedans, a Hummer RV, and a Rolls Royce.

Just inside the gates at the Ritz there is this strange forest of badly pruned trees.  I had to include a photo in this blog because I walked past it every morning.

Through the parking lot, I would pass the containers of bougainvillea and walk up to the entrance of the health club entering through brass-trimmed doors that were polished everyday.

There was a metal detector to pass through before reaching the foyer of the health club. Immediately inside was a beautiful flower arrangement that was changed ever few days.

This is the entrance to the ladies locker room and Hamam (Turkish spa).
After signing in at the desk, I would pass through the automatic doors, go past the hot tub down a stone walkway leading to the walking paths around the Ritz private island.

My good friend DW was a member of a  focus group at the Ritz to make some improvements.  One thing they added (that was a suggestion of the group) was a table by the hotel entrance leading out to the pools. They put this out early in the morning with towels, water, fruit and a map of the trails for guests staying at the hotel who wanted to run or walk for exercise on the trails where I also walked.
Another improvement suggested by the group was to label some of the trees.  This is the only tree that was native to the Arabian Sea coastline.

In case you can't read it, this one states that it "most likely" originated in Syria.  I thought this was funny that they could not find where it originated however when I did my own research the information stated the same thing. It is unknown where this tree originated but it probably came fro Syria.  LOL
I could never capture a photo of the whole tree that had good light because I never walked over to the island in the afternoon where the sun would be shining in the right direction. Living in the Middle East you learn quite quickly that the afternoon sun can be brutal.
This was the only plant labeled originating in North America.  It always looked like it was about to die. I think they were trying to tell us that the climate was too harsh for us.

From the grounds at the Ritz, you could see our building.
One spot I wrote about previously in this blog was what I called the bubble pools. This was my favorite spot to read the newspaper in the morning.
This was my view when I sat at the chilled pool.  
Another view of the chilled pool.
This photo was taken by mistake, however it shows the canvas Hard Rock bag I carried to the Ritz every day usually with my swim gear, a book or my phone and a bottle of water. The bag came with a shirt I bought for my granddaughter in Cozumel, Mexico at the Hard Rock Cafe. So I thought about ML every time I carried it.

There were several 3 bedroom villas for rent nightly on the Ritz property. This is the view out to the Arabian Sea between two of them.  
This is one of the villas.

There were several walls at the Ritz where vegetation was planted. These were quite stunning. 
Part of my walk took me by a cage with beautiful parrots.
The walking path also wound around the Ritz Marina.
The view of the beach was spectacular.
The Ritz was also beautiful at night.

The lights on the building would change for special occasions.  Theses are for the World Cup.
When there were nighttime events at the Ritz, they would cook outside.
There was a great sushi restaurant on the grounds of the Ritz between the large pools and the chilled pool.  I named it the Dragon Restaurant.  However I found out this is not a dragon, it is a swan. The bar was a replica of a golden swan ship used to carry the King of Indonesia.

For Bahrain National Day (December 16) and Christmas, the Ritz decorates the grounds. These umbrellas were installed over the entrance road last December.  Although it was stunning, we never found out why they used umbrellas. 

Part of the grounds at the Ritz was an island extending out beyond the villas. The walking paths lead you around the island and back to the Ritz. The island was my favorite part.

I could stand on the island and look out at the Arabian Sea for hours. Crystal blue waters with little ripples and far far off in the distance you could see the city of Muharraq.

Here is a video I took on my last morning walk at the Ritz. If you are reading this in an email, you will have to go to my blog page online to view the video.

On my very last walk at the Ritz, I searched for that perfect spot to capture my last selfie on the island. It took me several shots to come up with just the right one.

Far off in the background over my right shoulder you can see the Ritz and where we lived, Rasfa Towers. 
I say goodbye to my little island of palms in the Arabian Sea and turn to walk back home and get ready to board our plane headed for the United States. As I walk I'm listening to the composer James Horner on my earphones. The music playing on my iPod was written to mark the launch of the Spacecraft Enterprise in Star Trek 2.

It seems appropriate. I turn and begin the walk back to prepare to launch into a new adventure of my own.


As you can imagine, looking at Manama during sunrise over the lagoon from the walking paths at the Ritz was absolutely magnificent. I took this shot at 5am just three days before we left Bahrain and returned to the United States.

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