Travel story: Aussie Tastes Riyadh

Lifestyle

I always loved to travel. Not only because it was something I enjoy ever since I was a kid (my family had this tradition to get in the car every 1st of May and travel around the country for a few days, camp outside, meet new people along the way and create some amazing memories), but also because the job that I do requires a constant inflow of inspiration and creativity. And, when you think about it – what better way to gain insight into things that, to you, are still unknown and unexplored, as well as see things from a different angle than by traveling? Ah, everything about it is amazing!

I love exotic destinations and try to squeeze them into my traveling schedule as much as possible. That being said, not so long ago one of my destinations was Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia. I know what you’re thinking: it must have been a real hassle getting there, but – let me tell you – it was easier than you might think!

Here’s a little insight into my Riyadh experience that was every bit as exciting as I’ve expected it to be!

Prepare to depart

Booking a flight to Saudi Arabia isn’t a big problem as getting a viable visa is a piece of cake. Though, you should thoroughly check your destination beforehand. There are a lot of rules you should follow, not only because of the expected (and evident) culture clash but because of being a good guest too. It’s common courtesy, really. Women have it harder when it comes to abiding the rules; don’t try to go against the rules and play the feminist card, please don’t. Just adhere to everything you are expected to and you won’t have any problems.

Is it hot for the average Aussie?

If you’re from the outback, then you have nothing to worry about… you might even a bit chilly in Riyadh. Make sure to pack a lot of change of clothes as it can get not only hot, but humid too. The fact that Riyadh is enclosed by deserts and desert-like landscapes doesn’t help anyone feel cooler. However, the lush green oases provide an incredible contrast. It’s just an experience you must see with your own eyes.

Anything famous?

Before anything else, you must visit the City of Old Ad’Diriyah, the ancient ruins of the Saudi dynasty’s first capital. A stunning place breathing with culture and many tales of an antique kingdom. Besides that, you should absolutely go and have a looksee at King Abdul Aziz Mosque. This old mosque is part of history making it more than just a communal place for believers to gather and pray.

Can you go shopping?

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You can’t really say you’ve been anywhere unless you checked out what their markets are. One great thing about Arabic bazaars is that you get a chance to meet interesting people, see exotic things to buy, and most of all, haggle for a better price. It’s exciting! Souk Azal is a great marketplace where you’ll surely find virtually everything you might be looking for.

Where to eat something good?

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You will insult the hosts if you never go out and try their cuisine; it’s not only rude (please don’t pull a Charlotte in Sex and the City and their Mexico escape when here!) but you’ll miss out! Let me tell you, they have some of the world’s most interesting dishes you will ever get to taste. Finding a good restaurant in Riyadh isn’t too hard. They simply love to eat; cooking is an art form not many are able to obtain. In most cases, Arabic cuisine will mean that you have to use your hands instead of cutlery which might seem weird at first but you will get used to it rather fast.

Don’t encumber yourself with too much info though, you’ll just end up worrying if you have done and seen everything “you were supposed to” or not. Remember to follow their rules to the letter, have fun and prepare for the experience of a lifetime!

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Claire Hastings
Claire Hastings is a design student, wanderer, and a writer. She writes as long as she can remember, and she is very passionate about fashion, running, other cultures, and her cat.
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