Until the very last minute, I had no idea if I'm going to Bahrain or not.
After my week in Turkey, I was invited by the same family to go to Bahrain and live with them for three months while one of the nannies went to visit her family. I was there from October to December, came back right before Christmas.
Fresh after Uni, didn't know what to do with my life and wanted to experience something new. My friend told me about this opportunity and I took it without thinking.
No, wait... that's a lie, we talked about it so much I thought I knew everything about that place.
I won't be writing about my experience with the job or the family which was overall good, I want to tell you what I've learned about living in a country so different from Europe.
Firstly, Bahrain is a tiny island right next to massive Saudi Arabia, there's a bridge connecting the two so some people go abroad every weekend or even every day.
Bahrain is a Muslim country but there's a lot of Americans and Europeans (especially British) who live there and mix the culture a lot.
Secondly, no tax and almost all of the money I made I could save. They provided me with everything. Whoop Whoop!
Clothes wise, I didn't have to wear a hijab or abaya, didn't have to cover my hair or clothes. But out of respect I was wearing long trousers and T-shirts or jumpers when the weather got colder (which was almost never). I saw some girls wearing shorts or skirts but didn't think that was appropriate.
Honestly, for the three months I didn't have much time off which wasn't too bad, I could go to the swimming pool or gym when the little girl was at school and I wasn't spending money which was my goal.
My Uni teacher after hearing of me going to Bahrain, he told me about his friend who lives there. She is also a photographer and one day she told me about an art festival where she was exhibiting her work.
The NEST festival was in central Manama, the artwork was displayed on the streets, walls, inside empty buildings, there was also an outdoor cinema. It was a great experience filled with beautiful and inspiring art pieces.
I walked around with the lady photographer, she introduced me to a lot of people, everyone was very positive and nice, a few even offered to show me around Bahrain.
Next time I had some time off I went to a small island for a music festival, with my new friend and her fiance. The place wasn't busy at all, probably less than 50 people but the atmosphere was amazing. A lot of international musicians performed as well as some local stars. It was still bright when we arrived so we walked around and took some pictures.
I met a Turkish family and they invited me to their home and cooked traditional food for me, I spent a few hours with them exchanging stories from our countries.
Funny thing about Bahrain is that no one walks, even going to a shop which is located 5 minutes away, they still prefer to use the car. So one day when I asked my driver to take me to National Museum and pick me up from the Grand Mosque, which is 40 min walk, he looked at me weirdly and asked if I really want to walk this far.
40 minutes is not far for me. Although I did feel weird with no people around, it was still a nice walk. I think the driving culture comes from the extremely hot summers that they have in this part of the world. They always use air conditioning, even if the temperatures go down a bit. I very rarely used the AC in my room, I just hate the cold feeling when you come inside.
Most wealthy people travel to Europe in the summer to avoid the heat, so the family I lived with, they come to London for a month or longer and then they go to a couple more countries in Europe.
Speaking of my sightseeing experiences, I didn't do a lot of that because of the lack of days off, and sometimes I just preferred to chill by the pool and sleep a bit longer.
But I did visit mentioned above the National Museum which was stunning, the history of Bahrain shown in a very interesting way. In front of the museum, you can admire sculptures and the simplicity of the building.
Al Fateh Grand Mosque is even more beautiful, unfortunately, I didn't go inside as it was prayers time, but even seeing it from the outside, late in the evening was priceless.
I definitely regret not doing a couple of things:
1. Everyone recommended to me Pearling Trail and I didn't find time to see it. I'm not sure what was my excuse and I regret it deeply.
2. Royal Camel Farm, this site was created by the King of Bahrain Sheik Mohammad as a means of preserving camels in Bahrain. They aren't bred for eating or production, they are super safe there. The worst part of my mistake was that the farm was 10 minutes drive from the place I was staying. Shame shame on me!
In December, before Christmas, the family, a few nannies and I went to Dubai. They usually go to UAE when winter school break starts. It was such a great trip! It started off with the VIP lounge at the airport, no queues, no luggage, no stress. We even used a different car entrance to get in. We stayed at the Kempinski Hotel located on the Palm Jumeirah island. The family had one suite and all the help second. Every day we went to a new fun park:
Legoland, Motiongate (this one was my favorite), Columbia Pictures, IMG Worlds, and Global Village. The last one is a compilation of the most popular buildings from around the world, made in 'miniature' (still in a size of 3/4 level buildings).
Although, I didn't do any sightseeing I still had a lot of fun on all the rides. If I ever go to Dubai, I want to do some of the parks again.
Day after Dubai I flew back to England and this was the end of my Middle Eastern story.
It was such a great experience for me, met a lot of lovely people and seen some beautiful places. I'm very grateful for this opportunity but I don't think I would do it again (the au pair/nanny job of course). It was great for my savings and to experience something new but because of the lack of time off I couldn't rest properly or organize the time for myself.
I never knew when my next day off will be so I couldn't really plan meeting up with anyone or doing a photo shoot for example. And I missed photographing people a lot.
I highly recommend Bahrain, especially in the winter season. For the locals December is super cold, for me, it was T-shirt weather, so it's one of the best months to visit. November was pleasant too, October was hot, very hot.
Also, in December there's a lot of interesting events and festivals organized in Manama and different places.
Bahrain is filled with openminded and friendly people so go and make some friends like I did!