Trips outside KAUST are a rarity for us so it’s always a big deal when we do get out. Yesterday Jose took us to the Fakieh Aquarium right by the corniche. It cost SAR 50 per person but it was free for Jasmine. We had to leave the stroller outside since they are not allowed inside. Jasmine enjoyed a lot. She oohed and aahed and pointed at the fish excitedly the whole time.
Unfortunately we were kicked out (politely) before we could see everything because it was 7:00 pm and people had to break fast. Breaking fast, or iftar, we later realized, is a huge affair as the restaurants become so busy and full of customers that they recoup whatever they lost during the day, when they have to close.
There is a nice restaurant right beside the Fakieh Aquarium called Blue Ocean and we wanted to eat there but they told us it was full. I asked them where else we could eat and they pointed to an area just down the road. Thankfully we were in a nice part of the city that was full of restaurants.
We were driving when I saw a guy stopping cars because he wanted to share his Saudi desserts with passing motorists. It made me smile as Ramadan is all about giving and sharing even with strangers. I wanted to stop and take some sweets but we drove by too fast. Oh well.
We parked the car in front of a McDonald’s and hoped for the best as it was dawning on us that it would be really difficult to get a table during iftar. We walked along the road asking several restaurants if there were tables but we were turned away repeatedly.
We finally found a restaurant that would seat us. I’ve been seeing this restaurant all around Jeddah as they are a chain and it was great that we finally got to try it. Ramesses serves Egyptian (duh) and Middle Eastern food. The buffet cost SAR 120 per person. During iftar it seems no one does ala carte.
The front of the restaurant facing the glass walls are only for men. Families have to go to the Family Section on the second or third floor where people can’t see them. Some tables even have partitions so even other families can’t see them.
The food was good although I wasn’t sure of what I was eating since everything was in Arabic. Weird but I was excited about not knowing what we were eating. It felt like truly being in a foreign country. Also we were the ONLY non-Arabian customers in the entire restaurant so we felt at one with the locals hehe.
Jose went to get food while I stayed at the table with Jasmine. I was surprised when he came back without any plates. I was going to ask him why when I saw the waiter behind him carrying a tray of plates. Turns out in Saudi Arabia, waiters are even expected to carry your plates from buffet station to table! Well that’s not the case for everyone but I think most Saudis expect it. The waiters were extra attentive, even asking us several times if we need any kind of service. I could get used to this life 😀
Over all it was a nice evening in Jeddah. Our daughter saw fish up close for the first time and we ate in a nice restaurant for iftar.