Hello from Bahrain! We arrived here safely yesterday and have settled in nicely. Bahrain is very different from UAE. It is hard to describe all the ways how. Happily, we have a lovely group of guides.
Abdullah from the conference we are screening at picked us up from the airport and brought us to our hotel, which is extremely swank. We are on the 28th floor with wonderful views of the gulf and the city. BIG window. After resting a bit, we walked up to a restaurant near the Manama Souk. Manama is the main city in Bahrain, and is where we are staying. We checked out the souk a bit and enjoyed a nice Thai lunch, then came back to take a brief nap (we'd got up at 5 for our flight) before meeting Abdullah again at 3. He then took us to Muharraq, the former capital city and the oldest part of the island of Bahrain. We went through many old houses that have been converted to museums as part of a private cultural project. We also tried Arabic coffee and a traditional Bahrain sweet call Hamwa, kind of a thick jello-y jelly with nuts. Abdullah insisted on buying us a tin of it, but I'm not sure how well it will travel back to US. Then we met up with our other host, Suha, and a Bahrainy filmmaker, Ebrahim, for dinner. We had a fun time, but stayed out very late and came back to the hotel exhausted.
I don't have much time to write now but hope to do an entry about our last wonderful day in Dubai later, and more about our first experiences of Bahrain. Everything is still going well.