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One 24-hour transit in Saudi Arabia raised an eyebrow at the Saudi Consulate in New York, the second transit raised the other eyebrow and brought out a slight grimace.
We did get the double-entry transit visas and coming back from Dubai we arrived in Jeddah for our quick stop.
My wife had touched up her abaya and head scarf on arrival, eliciting smiles and laughs from Saudi women in the restroom by baggage claim, she said.
We were now repeat visitors to ‘The Kingdom’ and breezed through with a smile and a “welcome.”
Following the no driving spousal proclamation from our Riyadh experience, we relied on taxis. I am not sure which city has worse traffic, certainly the roads in Jeddah are more confusing and even less marked.
We had another Marriott category 1-4 certificate to use so stayed at the Marriott Jeddah, a serviceable business hotel in a congested, ugly location far from the coastal Corniche. My wife had had quite enough of the heat and took a nap. I set out on a 3-hour walk through the blistering heat.
Jeddah’s old town with its towering, ornate Coral Houses is the big draw.
The fish market along the Corniche is hard to locate, I only managed to find a lot for abandoned cars so hired a taxi to get me to the market, which was near closing and not lively.
For dinner, we headed to the Corniche. Our taxi driver made a wrong turn that cost almost 30 minutes to right. I felt less ashamed of my efforts in Riyadh. The Corniche, deserted at night, had few food choices so we settled for a hotel.
The flight to New York was a brutal 5:30 am.
Riyadh vs Jeddah? If you want shiny new skyscrapers, Riyadh. If you want cool old town, Jeddah. My vote is for Jeddah, more walkable, more lively, more diverse, and a bit of coastal breeze.