Return of the Jeddah

by | Oct 12, 2021 | October 2021: Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia | 0 comments

 

 

Picking up from where we left off after 2 days in and around Riyadh, we’re now in Jeddah: the second largest city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a port city on the Red Sea.

 

 

You can tell it’s a port because of all the abandoned fishing boats still marooned on the harbor:

 

 

After last night “outing” at Joujou, we got up at 8am today for a tour of city centre and old Jeddah – al Balad:

 

 

Here we wandered around the old city gates, from a time before cars …

 

 

… as well as the traditional markets in this labyrinthine part of the city.

 

 

This maze like area is where traders from all over Arabia and Africa live and work in a colorful world.

 

 

Jeddah’s coral houses, still standing in various states of disrepair, are some of the most famous architecture here:

 

 

If you’re looking for a museum, then spend your time at the 19th century Nassif House, formerly a mansion:

 

 

And after some souvenir shopping here, we headed onwards to Ta’if (post to come tomorrow).

For our second night in Jeddah after returning from Ta’if, we decided to make another visit to Joujou as we’ve been told it remains the only happening place in town right now.

And as how every monsoon should end, it would be with an unexpected surprise: A nurse based in Saudi Arabia named Jazzie has been following me on instagram ever since the pandemic began. When she noticed from my IG stories that I was in Jeddah, she reached out immediately if she could say hi. 

The universe always will reward the ones who show up. She showed up.

 

 

After a spirited conversation about fate, travel, our future, and everything in between, we regretfully had to say our goodbyes as they had to return home before their 11pm curfew.

With the bill and best wishes paid to the energized manager of Joujou, Corey, we drove out for one final walk along the Jeddah Corniche for views of the Red Sea.

 

 

If you look far up north enough here, you’ll catch a glimpse of Al Rahma Mosque, aka the ‘floating’ mosque, constructed on stilts in the sea:

 

 

Despite having some ice cream at one of the numerous “Cone Zones” stalls here, the wet heat ended up defeating us; by 11pm we were dropped off back at our hotel for an assumed end to our night in Jeddah.

However, I would then find out that the BinaxNOW test that Mihaela had helpfully got for me did not have the Telehealth option that allowed me to return home last month from Italy. Without a third party telehealth option to verify that you performed and read your test correctly, it cannot count for travel and a return home to the USA (even if you’re fully vaccinated).

I therefore quickly sent out a last minute message out to both Jazzy and our local guide Abdul Aziz, both of whom immediately responded with options. And at midnight, Abdul Aziz offered to drive us 10 minutes away to Al Borg Diagnostics for a rapid PCR (2 hour turnaround at the cost of around 550 rials or $150 USD).

 

 

Negative once again! Let’s go home.

 

 

Speaking of returning home, did I mention how ridiculously beautiful Jeddah’s one year old airport is?

 

 

Even more beautiful was I used 70,000 American Airline miles to obtain a free business class itinerary on the world’s “best business class” via Qatar Airways from JED to DOH to JFK. I last flew with Qatar First and Business was 2 years ago while on my way to Pakistan.

 

 

I proceeded onwards to getting stamped out of Saudi Arabia:

 

 

Then after passports and security, I proceeded onwards on a train and a very long walk to the newly opened Wellcome Lounge at JED airport. You’ll just have to forgive the first impressions of their elevator welcome:

 

 

Because the rest is much better:

 

 

At 9:30pm we began boarding for my JED-DOH leg of my itinerary home.

 

 

How I missed Q-Suites:

 

 

With 2 big surface areas to place your things as well as a storage cubby underneath the “ottoman” next to your main seat, there was plenty of room to call this a “suite.” The main attraction remains the sliding door to maintain your privacy.

We landed 2 hours later into Doha, where even the transfer shuttles are fancy:

 

 

It was a quick 1 hour turnaround to make it to my onward DOH-JFK flight. And when I approached my randomly assigned seat, something looked very familiar:

 

 

The same seat as the last time I flew Q-Suites with Qatar Airways 19 months ago when I was traveling from Dallas to Pakistan!

 

 

As always the welcome refreshments remain top notch:

 

 

Thank you again for the included pajama set from The White Company London!

 

 

And today’s complimentary gift bag:

 

 

We began meal service approximately 50 minutes after takeoff:

 

 

This is the only airlines that finally gets lobster done right:

 

 

After 4 hours in the air, they offered to get my suite ready for bed:

 

 

After a full 8 hours of sleep, there’s nothing like another fresh avocado lobster spread to wake you up first thing in the morning:

 

 

One day I’ll combine two suites and get myself that full sized bed:

 

 

Until then, I’m now back home resting up for the next 4 weeks until the next monsoon!

 

- At time of posting in Jeddah, it was 28 °C - Humidity: 70% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: cloudy

 

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