Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Friends, Fitbits and the DQ Walking Track – One Morning in Riyadh

It’s easy to let the obstacles get in your way when you want to get out in Riyadh. For instance, 

        Obstacle One: I'm not allowed to drive
        Obstacle Two: It's too hot anyway
        Obstacle Three: Apart from malls there’s nowhere to go
        Obstacle Four: And I have to wear an abaya

This morning we managed to circumvent all the obstacles, include some exercise, and have a great time into the bargain. Major success.

Obstacle One:  We used a compound bus. We’re very lucky because if there’s a group of five or more who want to go somewhere, our compound will provide us with a bus.  So at 8.30 this morning nine of us plus Tony, our driver, were ready to leave. Perfect.

Obstacle Two: Dealing with this was also relatively easy. At this time of the year the daytime temperatures are just perfect. I love Riyadh’s winter.

Obstacle Three: It's true that in summer there’s little one can do, simply because it’s just too hot to be outdoors. Hence malls, shopping and coffee shops, all three of which become very tedious very quickly. But now it’s winter, and one can really enjoy being outdoors. Moreover I’ve just recently acquired a fitbit, and while I wouldn’t want to admit to becoming slightly obsessive compulsive about my daily step count, it is true that I am pretty determined to get to 20,000 steps by the end of each day.  So it seemed that a trip to the Diplomatic Quarter where there is a walking track, would be an excellent idea.

Obstacle Four: following on from Obstacle Three, this was easily dealt with. The Diplomatic Quarter is an autonomous entity, and so when visiting it there is no need to wear an abaya.  Best fact ever!

And so, all obstacles removed, we drove to the DQ and found our starting point. I loved the lush gardens and beautiful landscaped Assabaa Garden where we began. 

Our walk led around the edge of the Diplomatic Quarter. As well as the view over the escarpment, which at times had us stopping, peering and snapping with cameras, we also saw a wealth of small  flowers and plants nestled into rocky crevices and hiding under stones. 

We heard frogs, saw goats grazing in the distance, and egrets in flight. 

We agreed that we'd all enjoyed the morning. Good walking, good friendships and something all too often remote from life here, a wonderfully liberating sense of personal freedom.  

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