above the clouds

International Travel and Lifestyle Blog


Greetings from Doha, Qatar – Just Another Beautiful Sunny Day

Handsome horse in the stables at Souq Waqif

With no causeway over the open sea yet built between Bahrain and Qatar - the most convenient way between each country is via plane. It is a very short flight - something like 130km with maybe 30 minutes in air. My flight was empty - the few people on this Qatar Airways flight each had their own row as well as several rows of extra empty space around them. We were given little candies upon takeoff. Doha Airport is large, modern, gleaming and … [Read more...]

An Insiders Perspective: Night tour of Bahrain

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In doing some research prior to my travel to Bahrain I stumbled upon a website advertising private tours. I emailed the owner, Hanan (she no longer offers tours) but she kindly agreed to meetup after work. This was a real insiders tour from someone who grew up in Bahrain and knows the island extremely well. Her diversity of interests, local knowledge and passion for both travel and for Bahrain were clearly evident. We immediately drove to some … [Read more...]

Tiny Al Dar Islands, Bahrain

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Looking to capitalize on some unseasonably December weather in Bahrain I decided to make a day trip from Manama to the tiny Dar Islands, just off the coast of an industrial section of the country called Sitra. You come to these islands for relaxing and to enjoy the water - taking breaks from the searingly intense summer heat. A variety of activities are offered - including diving for pearls, kayaking and snorkeling. And there is a special … [Read more...]

El Salvador Wedding and Lago De Coatepeque

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I am sitting on the edge of Lago De Coatepeque in El Salvador on an early morning - wakened early by the suns first rays hitting my face from my cozy spot on the floor, wedged between two sofas. Last night I vaguely remembered stumbling in around 2am. Lacking in the sleep department and heavy in the alcohol recovery, I feel surprisingly well for just a few hours of sleep. Last night was a blur, it was my cousin's wedding and it was epic. The … [Read more...]

Bahrain, A Diversity of Experiences on a Tiny Island

The Grand Mosque

Today I headed out to explore the island with my driver Babu. Babu, like many expats who have come to Bahrain is from India - and came here to take part in the construction boom a number of years ago. He worked his way to supervisor - the boom ended and now works with the hotel I am staying at to drive people around the island. He asked me how difficult it was to get a visa to the USA. I had to tell him for a single man like himself, it could be … [Read more...]

Touchdown at Sunset, Lets go Explore Manama, Bahrain

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I touched down gently at the Manama airport just prior to sunset after making several short regional flights, glad to have arrived to some warm and humid weather after rain and cold temps came to California the prior week. The last time I was in this area it was 47 degrees when I landed, sometime in September. The heat can be brutal in the summer here but by this time of year the temperatures have subsided considerably. I soon found myself … [Read more...]

Exploring Vienna the Best Way, by Bicycle!

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Arriving in Vienna was a shock after the calm and small town feel of Bratislava we have enjoyed the past few days. We were deposited right in the Museum District - which is a busy section of the city filled with massive and imposing historical buildings in all directions. Vienna has so much to see that we quickly decided trying to see some of its impressive architectural offerings on foot was not a good idea. We have been here several times on … [Read more...]

Long Weekend in Bratislava, Slovakia

Bentianna, a drink made from a 15th century recipe

I had arranged to meet my brother for a long weekend in Bratislava. He was on his way from Verona Italy where he lives and I was on my way from Kyrgyzstan where I had been trekking the past few weeks. We arrived at our floating Botel on the Danube River within 1 minute of each other. Talk about great timing! Ready to imbibe in some alcohol after a several week dry spell we immediately headed to the Grand Cru tasting bar, and ordered several … [Read more...]

A Speech on Travel in Almaty, Kazakhstan

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An acquaintance I met on Couch Surfing a few nights ago is a member of a local Toastmaster's club here in Almaty. A day ago she informed me that she would like me to be the guest speaker at their upcoming bi monthly meeting which draws both students and expats. Toastmasters started in Santa Ana California as one small club in 1924 and now has local chapters in over 120 countries often with multiple meetups/groups in the same city. Their focus … [Read more...]

Dreaming of Iceland

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Iceland has long been on my list of countries to visit. I fly over this rugged looking country several times a year on my way to Europe - I glance down about mid flight depending on the time of year and gaze down upon its snow covered landscape. At other times I see rugged geography, a landscape devoid of people and large portions covered by glaciers. A friend who has family living there visits every once in a while and returns with stories of … [Read more...]