Sunday, Dec 17 — AlUla
Land, rent car, book reservation to Al Ula, set up SIM card, check in to Sweet Sweet inn AlUla. Drive to AlUla old town and try some Arabic coffee and snacks like borni dates stuffed with almonds, sesame tahini, or baklava and pistachio sauce, tweetat (wheat with cardamom stuffed with date paste), and date paste rolled in toasted sesame seeds. Yum. I have about 5 Arabic coffees.
For dinner, I ate at Al-Nakheel and ordered a mutabbaq veggies (Saudi street-style partha; spicy folded omelet pancake with bits of vegetables, like chopped leeks, chives, or green onion, which is then folded and cut to squares), a fatuous salad and a fresh lemonade mint.
Monday, Dec 18 — AlUla
Stopped by the AlJadidah Arts District, near the Old Town to find a place to eat. Tried Ppl Salad & Sandwich (didn't have much left), then AlHatab Bakery, but it was closed. Then I went back to Al-Nakheel and, as they had a limited day menu, ordered a mutabbaq meat and veggies, a fatuous salad and a lemonade mint. Then toured Hegra. Visited these mains sites:
- Jabal AlAhmar
- Qasr al-Farid (قصر الفريد), meaning ‘the Lonely Castle’
- Jabal AlBanat
- Jabal Ithlib
Then visited Jabal AlFil (Elephant Rock) جبل الفيل. Dinner at the Saudi place in the old town and sit down at highly underated Suhail Restaurant, and order saleeg, or chicken over milk rice. It is fantastic; cooked to perfection.Saleeg
Tuesday, Dec 19 — AlUla
I woke around 2:30am. I guess the jet lag is still quite strong. I had trouble sorting a hotel in Jeddah; I’m not entirely too sure why, but I obsess over where to stay, even though I have no idea where to stay. Should I stay in th old town? (Only old, worn hotels.) How about the New Corniche? (Quite spendy from $300 - $1000++ USD/night.) I settle on the Holiday Inn, Corniche, but only after the prices rises a bit. Haha. Definitely need to book that hotel early, next time.
I drove to the Oasis, saw some baby camels and the mum, covered in flies. Then went to the Pink Camel bakery, and start chatting with some Saudi tourist. They suggest I check out the Habitas Hotel, grab breakfast and take a swim. The man even gives my his room key to get passed security as the checkpoint at the beginning of the valley that has that hotel, as well as the Banyan Tree and the Mirror Buildings. I can't believe his trusting nature. There is a loud, dusty truck pumping water, so I leave and try and find another spot to eat.
I end up at Daimumah Restaurant in the oasis for a lovely late lunch at. At first it is hard to find, but I call, am assured, park out on the dirt road and take the mud path (with lights) to the restaurant. Had a wonderful farmer’s salad and the house burger, the latter which I was hesitant at first, rather wanting more local food, but let me say, the burger knocked it out of the park, especially with the ambiance. My waiter was from Nigeria, and suggested I visit Lagos to see the true heart of Nigeria. Of course I asked if it was safe, and he said no problem, a little dangerous but you'll be fine.
After lunch I drove up to the Harrat Viewpoint, and ran into the South African chap, Pete, that took my photo at Hegra. He was with his wife, and friend, Leo. Apparently they are doing illuminations on the jebel, but I will leave a day early to catch the show. We chat a while, and the sun sets, so drive down the steep, windy hill, stopping every so often to enjoy the dark evening and look at the stars. The side of the road is slightly eerie, when I turn off the car lights, but the slight moon gives a little security.
In the old town, I wander around a bit, buy some of the amber oil I tried the days before, and head home. I had trouble parking this evening in my spot of the last few nights, as there was some private even, with many Saudis, and they were illuminating the mud buildings with patterns and designs. It is very festive. I actually thought it was open to the public, but a security guy caught my and told me to take a hike. No qualms at all.
Wednesday, Dec 20 — Jeddah
Woke early and drove up to the Habitas Hotel. I have a nice omelet, coconut chia seed pudding and a cappuccino. Yum. I then take a swim, but am informed the breakfast doesn’t include a swim, and that it will be 300 SAR more. I mention I will only be an hour, so the life guard let’s it slide this time. Besides I explain I’ll try and come back next year and stay at the hotel!
I left the hotel, visited the Mirror Building, the Banyan Tree hotel, and drove to the airport, about 50 minutes away.
Took taxi to the aiport and saw the large Saudi flag nearby. Checked in to Holiday Inn. Walked along the Old Corniche to the King Fahd Fountain and saw the 300-meter sprays of water!
Thursday, Dec 21 — Jeddah
Visited the Old Town in the afternoon following this general plan via Google map: https://thewanderingquinn.com/al-balad-jeddah/ Al-Balad Uber to Bab Jadid or old Jeddah Old Gate, then walk to: -Old Jeddah (museum), Al Balad -Historic Nights Rooftop Cafe -Shafei Mosque Historical, and around the corner for old houses -Nassif House Museum --Head west for the Gabel / Qabel Trail souk -Arabic cafe -Al Ma'amar Mosque walk to Matbouli House Museum for old houses Bedouin market End here: Bab Makkah - the old gate'
Took a taxi to the Red Sea mall, ate at an Egyptian Restaurant and walked around and noticed all the more liberal fashions. Then walked along the New Corniche in the evening, from the Sheraton Jeddah and all the coffee kiosks to the Jeddah Hilton and photogrpahed the The Headquarters Business Park Tower.
Friday, Dec 22 — Jeddah
Fifa Club World Cup Finals
Saturday, Dec 23 — Medina
Sunday, Dec 24 — Medina
I took the 2p shuttle into town. THere was lots of coughing on the shuttle and I felt uncomforable. Like the day before, i was dropped off before the mosque. I revisited the umbrellas at the mosque and waited to see them close. I then tried to visit the Jannatul Baqi Window View Point, but it was under construction. I then tried to visit Albaik, but the queue was about an hour long. Ugh. I then walked to 24°27'37.2"N 39°36'29.7"E to buy the incense burner. Then walked to Masjid Quba Uber to Hejaz Railway Station and Anbariya Mosque nearby. Try to eat at F6or faris | فطور فارس, but did not make it this time.
Monday, Dec 25 — Dammama
Tuesday, Dec 26 — Bahrain
What is your fav KSA airport?:
- Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Airport - Tabuk
- Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport -
- Medina Prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdulaziz International Airport - AlUla
- King Abdulaziz International Airport - Jeddah King
- Fahd International Airport - Dammam
- King Khalid International Airport - RUH