I am at the quietest airport in the world. Riyadh is a city of more than four million, yet I have never seen a more quiet, calm and serene airport. All of the airports I’ve visited in the U.S. have always been crowded, chaotic and impossible to navigate. The Dallas-Fort Worth airport comes to mind as being one that is impossibly large, and maddeningly complicated. But the King Khaled Airport in Riyadh is just the opposite. Of course, I’ve only been to the international travel side; the domestic travel side looks much busier. I know that many people go to Jeddah and Dammam, particularly on the weekend, as each city has plentiful beaches, being on the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. They are both cities I would like to someday visit. Perhaps I will take off a couple of weekends and check them out.
Today, for reasons to do with my Visa (as always) I am leaving for Bahrain. I will be in Bahrain for only a few hours, and then back to Riyadh. Hopefully before sunset. Part of me wishes that I could be in Bahrain for at least one day, and part of me wants to wait until my daughter is here to explore the country.
As I clear immigration and board the plane, I am struck by the lack of female passengers. I am the only woman on the plane. I panicked. I don’t know why I panicked, but my heart started to race, and I almost ran off the plane. Instead, I took a deep breath, handed the flight attendant my boarding pass and sat in my window seat. I felt grateful that my employer had booked a window seat for me. There was no one in the middle seat, for which I was again grateful. After what seemed like an interminable amount of time, two more women boarded the plane. Something inside me relaxed, and I took out my notebook to do some writing.
Of course, as is always the case with me, I tightened up and had crash fantasies as the plane took off. My life flashed before my eyes, and memories of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger in the Hudson River and Denzel Washington crash landing in Flight played like a slideshow in my mind. Fortunately, once the plane was at cruising altitude, I breathed a lot more easily and the threat of hyperventilating passed.
Why is it that every airline in the world feeds you except those in the United States? Even on this flight of less than an hour, we were given sandwiches, juice and water. The passengers didn’t have to pay for their baggage, and you could bring as many carry-ons as you could reasonably carry.
As we descended into Bahrain, I looked out of my window and saw white sand beaches, and several white sand islands holding skyscrapers on one and homes on another. The Persian Gulf water was a creamy blue and barely had any ripples. My crash fantasies replayed, albeit on a much smaller scale, when we were landing in Bahrain.
Once on the ground, I disembarked to yet another quiet, calm airport. I wondered if all airports in the Middle East were like that. Why no impossible crowds, crazy mazes, crying babies and cranky old people? Was I missing something? Was I in another zone?
No, as it turned out, I was simply at the Bahrain International Airport, where I would spend the next two hours, and after that I would board another plane for my return to Riyadh.
A public phone at King Khaled Airport
A visit to the Bahrain Dairy Queen
(Where I got a real hamburger)
2 thoughts on “To Bahrain”
You’re having such wonderful experiences abroad. I am happy for you, my friend. I hope our paths cross again some day. Much love…Sonny
I hope we do also. It would wonderful to see you again.