How I Got Here
5 years ago I crashed a random wedding in Lahore where of all the “WTF small world moments” I’ve had in my life I would run into an acquaintance named Ali Raza, whom I had first met briefly when I spoke at CUNY Baruch only a year prior.
Flabbergasted, we then took a photo together and he remarked that whenever he‘d get married he would invite me to come back to Pakistan and attend his wedding, insha’allah!
We then don’t speak until 5 years later when I get an invitation in the mail: He’s a man of his word.
And so am I. Pakistan 2.0, let’s go.
This time with the help of Ali’s father, I avoided the shitshow I had went through last time trying to get a Pakistani visa and instead acquired my visa within 4 days. They even gave me multiple entry!
Ali was also even gracious enough to invite/let me bring along a few monsooners to help him celebrate!
Qatar Airways Business Class: 1-2-1 Herringbone
After a very comfortable 24 hour journey on Qatar Airways’ new Qsuite Business Class, eventually reaching Doha from a conference in Boulder, Colorado, I headed out for my last 3 hour leg to Islamabad on Qatar’s older business class seat in the classic 1-2-1 herringbone configuration.
Aside from the obvious differences of less privacy and no sliding doors, the amenities kits are understandably smaller and simpler.
For the meal I opted for a cold chicken tandoori appetizer.
For dessert, they served a caramel cheese cake and a bowl of small fruits.
Arriving Into Islamabad
We arrived at Islamabad International Airport at 1:50am in the morning.
And just like how I felt last time when I arrived into Pakistan 5 years ago at the arrivals area in Lahore’s International Airport, the staring games once again commenced the moment I stepped into arrivals. Oh how I missed even this.
Once outside arrivals, Ali’s driver and Ali himself (as well as Daniela, who arrived earlier that morning) greeted and drove us over to our lodgings in Rawalpindi.
We finally settled in at 3am at Jungle Barracks, which was actually an awesome place to stay and run by ex-military officers looking a perfect place to stay active in their retirement. Super secure, safe, and has all the frills I need for a comfortable stay. And the WiFi here is excellent!
The next morning we chilled out and basked in our Vitamin D. The weather here this season during the day is perfect.
We have separate entries for Ali’s Mehndi/Rasm-e-Heena, Baraat/Shaadi, and the Walima in case you want to take a peek at all the outfits and splendor of the functions here. But this post will be devoted to our city tours of the planned capital city of Islamabad over the course of our week here.
We began with a drive up to serene village of northern Saidpur, which existed long before Islamabad.
There we had a late lunch at Des Pardes:
Nearby here you can keep driving up Daman-e-Koh for stunning views:
While you’re up there you can dine at The Monal for an unforgettable meal overlooking Islamabad:
After dining at The Monal we drove south to visit Islamabad’s most recognizable landmark, the Faisal Mosque. It was built in 1987 and designed to resemble a Bedouin tent.
For lesser-visited sights, if you need to go shop, there is the daily hustle at Jinnah Super Market:
You can also drive down the green avenues of wealthy Blue Area:
On the southwest side of town is the Pir Meher Ali Shah Shrine in the Golra area.
And on the northeast side in Nurpur Shaha is the Shrine Of Hazrat Bari Imam Sarkar:
If you’re visiting on a Sunday, don’t miss the weekly shops that open up at Itwar Bazar:
Or go shopping at any of the local chowks by Shakaparian Park:
To finish off your day, don’t miss the Pakistan Monument. It’s a gorgeous structure built in the shape of blooming flower petals.
And stop along Rawal Lake for sunset if you have time.
- At time of posting in Islamabad, Pakistan, it was 17 °C - Humidity: 58% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny