In December, we flew from Boston to Frankfurt on Lufthansa. After an interminable seven hour layover, we were finally able to make our way from the Business Class Lounge in Frankfurt to our gate. Prior to boarding, everyone’s passports are checked again and we were back on a plane. We took off pretty much on time despite the weather causing massive delays and cancellations for hundreds of customers. As we flew over Germany, I snapped a quick picture of the mountains below.
Prior to our trip, I was well aware that I would need to wear an abaya while in Jeddah, but was told that our contact there would have one for me when I arrived. An abaya or abayat is a “long overgarment, essentially a robe-like dress, worn by some women in parts of the Islamic world.” As we got closer to landing, I noticed women putting on their abayas. In Saudi Arabia they wear black abayas that are plain or embellished and they wear it with a boshiya or a tarha, a headscarf that many Muslim women wear for maintaining the standards of modesty. I found this web site written by an American woman living in Saudi Arabia who explains why women wear abayas. Arriving in Jeddah at King Abdulaziz International Airport was interesting as we didn’t pull up to a gate, but pulled onto the tarmac along with dozens and dozens of other large aircraft and then took a bus to the main terminal. The airport is currently under renovation, but I’m unsure if this is part of the renovation or not.
After getting off the bus, we entered the terminal and I felt extremely awkward in my street clothes. I’m not sure if people were looking at me or if I was unusually uncomfortable because I knew I was supposed to have an abaya. No one bothered me or said anything to me at all about my attire. We waited in line to show our passports and then went to collect our luggage. Before you leave the airport you must put your bags through a scanner yet again. This is to prevent anything illegal from entering the country, such as alcohol, pornography, or banned literature. Once we retrieved our luggage for the second time, we then met our driver and headed onto our hotel. The temperature even at 9 pm at night was warm and a striking difference from our temps back in the Northeast US. My eyes darted back and forth from one side of the car to the other to try and catch a glimpse at everything that we passed. Our driver had our hotel check in paperwork for us in the car so we could check in and go directly to our room, which was great after traveling for almost 24 hours. Saudi Arabia is 8 hours ahead of the East Coast and adjusting to the time difference, although not impossible, seemed somewhat pointless at this time.
|King Fahd’s Fountain|
We arrived at the InterContinental Hotel Jeddah on Al-Hamra Corniche after passing King Fahd’s Fountain. I had hoped that we would have a view of the fountain from our hotel room and sure enough, we did! King Fahd’s Fountain is the tallest water fountain in the world and jets water 1,024 ft above the Red Sea. It was donated to the city of Jeddah by King Fahd, hence its name. The fountain is visible throughout the entire vicinity of Jeddah although while we were there it was not on during the day. At night it uses over 500 spotlights to illuminate the fountain. Despite our exhaustion, we couldn’t stop looking at the fountain and I took many pictures and videos of it over the coming days. It’s also one of those landmarks that you can use to identify where you are like the Empire State Building in New York or the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Here’s a video I took of the fountain at night:
|InterContinental Hotel Jeddah|
Sleep was beckoning to us and we left unpacking for the next morning. This opulent hotel is located in the Corniche with easy accessibility to almost everything. We stayed in a Club Level room with access to the Club Lounge, where we could have breakfast and snacks throughout the day and I could wear my street clothes instead of donning the abaya. And when did I get my abaya? More about that next time!