10.14.2013

26.0275° N, 50.5500° E

I had a quest.  I accepted the challenge.  I took upon it as with any endeavor I take up: I researched. I did reconnaissance surveys. I used critical thinking.  I compared.  I fantasized. I tried to trick myself. But ultimately, I kept the same core values that I was looking for in the front of my mind. I persevered. I fatigued. I remained steadfast to my heart.  I prevailed...

Yes folks, I found my fitness center!  Of course, that's not keeping me from checking out all the other ones that I still have free 1-day trials for... Like this morning I will trot off to a close runner-up, Fitness First in the World Trade Center.  I would likely consider joining this one for a month just based on eye candy value alone...

Alas, eye candy was not one of my core considerations when mulling over gym memberships.  Of course, "it" tried to worm its way into my brain, and nearly succeeded- a few times... The Riviera Palace also fits this bill, as well as being a close-by gym with excellent facilities.  Yes, the eye candy strain is strong indeed. What can I say, I am woman, hear me roar!

But, in the end, Al Areen Palace & Spa won my heart over.  Mostly because of the indoor pool so I can swim laps.  By the way, it opens up out to the  outdoor pool through a short underwater passage... It is divine.  The grounds are divine.  The smell is divine.  The low lighting is divine.  The beauty of empty spaces and gorgeous architecture is divine.  The gyms are divine. The yoga room is divine! As well, I might be teaching there in the future so this is divine inspiration! The spa and Thlassos baths are all divine. 

But the sauna... super divine. The outside pool lounge is divine.  The attention to detail is divine.  So, I'm pretty happy.  The sparseness of the place sold me.  Lots of room and not a lot of people.  I know this lack of people seems contrary to my wanting 'eye candy', but when it comes down to it, I like spaciousness.  The other gyms, while flowing with energy, were crowded in a sense.  I love eye candy, but I also love uninterrupted workouts too- probably more so- so...

What also won out?  Well, the management.  Sonia and Tania and Dr. Isa, and everybody else that I met that I can't remember their names- well, they were awesome.  I was able to personalize my membership with what I wanted. 

TIMEOUT: Just want to add that I had my first sip of my beloved Anthony's Coffee straight from Maui, Hawaii. Ahhhh you all know how I feel about my first sips of coffee in the morning while blogging...

So... another highlight: it's very close to the university!  For 4-5 days a week (remember, Tuesdays are optional to go into work), I can just pop by pau hana ('after work' in Hawaiian).  Another plus: the road is empty from the university to the spa, meaning that I can take my bike (once I buy a bike) and bike from the uni to the spa and back and not fear getting run over by drivers (yes, I'm afraid that the driving here is really, REALLY bad- although not as bad as in Turkey or Tunisia, but I wasn't driving when I lived in those places). I can also RUN in wide open spaces!  Now that the weather is cooling down, I can hit the pavement and head out into the countryside (somehow I imagine the term 'countryside' to involve trees, but anyhow...)

So I'm feeling pretty happy about my decision.  Fitness First was definitely a top contender, but the traffic into Manama from A`ali worried me a little.  I mean, it is the same amount of time kilometer-wise, but going to Zallaq at least I'm driving the entire time and not waiting in traffic messes... My heart might falter just a little bit this morning when I go to Fitness First for the day- especially after seeing all the eye candy, but... I know what's up ultimately.  Eye candy abounds.  I mean, I have it all around me with the Bahrain Road Runners work-outs.  I have it on the weekends when I go out.  It's around. 

The only 'bummer' is that there is no beach.  The only beaches connected to fitness centers were at the Ritz Carlton (much too expensive for my blood), and the Sofitel in Zallaq (not as expensive, but smaller fitness center). Someone yesterday, though, told me about a beach... where was it again???  It's written down on a little piece of paper somewhere...

Now that THAT is taken care of... I can delve into it.  That was 3 weeks of researching.  This is good as it means that there are a lot of gyms here in Bahrain.  It also means that people are interested in taking care of their health. It also means more eye candy walking around so I can see it...

In other island news, it is Eid Al Adha this week.  There are no classes and 9 days off.  A little kerfuffle ultimately kept me in Bahrain, but honestly I haven't explored much of Bahrain so far so this is a blessing, and I do count my blessings! I'm heading to the Hawar Islands on Thursday for a big dance party on the beach so... there you have it- living it up while staying right here at home in my host country!

As well, tomorrow afternoon is the BRR swim/run practice at Al Hamala Beach Resort.  Tomorrow morning is hitting up the souk with Mr. "X"... And I also get to go to my... wait for it... gym!!! Can I just say that this palace is exquisite!!! I'm soooo happy to have found it.  I actually have Ms. Bethanie to originally thank for it as I saw her pictures when she stayed there with her then fiancee.  Then one of my colleagues at work said he worked out there and that it was great.

It's funny, as I type this stuff that is in my head, I realize that my narration style is so very different from what it was while living in Turkey... I guess I had to search for the meaning of things more so when I lived there.  Now, I LOVED my time spent in Turkey and my friends in Gaziantep really made it happen. I mean, let's face it, Gaziantep, although pretty downtown, was really just a mess of apartment buildings.  The highlights were the people, and historic downtown section.  You all know how I feel about Istanbul- it is the greatest city on Earth... You all know how I felt about Tunis as well- it was a city I affectionately term 'of elegant decay', meaning that it had seen its grandeur in its earlier days, but the remains of this grandeur could be felt, could be heard through the city walls, through the wallpaper peeling off the walls of my lovely apartment that I had downtown in Lafayette.  But Gaziantep, where I lived... well, it was basic.  My friends were everything there.  We MADE that place happen.  I was able to see beyond the sterile, ghost-like apartment building skeletons and thoroughly enjoy my time there. 

Back to my writing though, I notice that I had more of a sardonic wit while confined to Cell Block D in Gaziantep... There were a few reasons for this (wink wink), but let's just keep it at this and that I notice a distinct difference.  What happens on the outside is a definite reflection on the inside- we all know that...

I guess I can't gush enough about how this sweet island has caught my attention.  It is an unexpected surprise. As well, there seems such a connection to the Philippines and this really reminds me of Hawaii. 

Today is another reconnaissance day- spa trial, bookstores NOT attached to malls, a skate shop, Skate-Shack, Ken's Country Diner (which I already know and love), a possible new beach, thanks to new friend Dana, and my beloved Al Areen Palace/Spa.  I believe that there is another Scrabble tourney tonight as well!  Last night I won (and it was tough competition against the Fulbright Crew too).  Yea, life here is pretty amazing indeed.  Home is where the heart is, and my heart is currently located at:  26.0275° N, 50.5500° E...

Eid Al Adha Mubarak ya'll