Wednesday 12 April 2017

Umrah 2017 Photo Diary: Makkah.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Welcome to Makkah!
Well, my photo diary of it anyway. Let's begin!

So, I am the worst person when it comes to waiting in a queue. This was what greeted us at Manchester Airport when we were checking in - no queue whatsoever. The best start to any trip!
The plane! We flew with Saudi Airlines and have ever since they started direct flights from Manchester to Jeddah. Previously, we have flown with Air France, Etihad Airways, Egypt Air and Qatar Airways but all those flights involve stopping in their respective countries. I highly recommend the direct flight.
Above the clouds.
My favourite biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Nearly time to pass over our Meeqaat.
The flight was around 6 hours which wasn't too bad.
For the first time ever, we got through the infamous Jeddah airport checks really fast. I had been dreading the long wait that usually happens here but alhamdulillah, this time they had lots more desks open and we basically sailed through. But then, we lost a suitcase so you can't win them all. 
We drove from Jeddah to Makkah - around 1 hour's drive. We stayed in the same hotel as last year. It's the Swissotel Makkah and is in the clock tower.
We've stayed in many different hotels in Makkah in the past - Dar al Tawhid and lots of different ones in the clock tower, but none has been as good as the Swissotel. It's the only hotel that has been good enough that we've stayed in it more than once.
The view! We had the exact same suite as last year only this time, we were three floors higher. This was on the 35th floor.
Good morning Makkah! We had arrived in Makkah on Saturday night and were really tired so rested. We performed our Umrah on Sunday night after a good sleep, rest and more energy.
There was wifi in the hotel but I didn't use it. A break from the Internet was just what I needed.
Our lovely view of the Kabah and Masjid-al-Haram.
The Safa and Marwa walkway where the Sa'ee takes place.
Directly above the Kabah is the Kabah of the angels - the Baitul Ma'moor.
My homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies survived the flight.
Reading lots of Quran whilst in Makkah.
Tea time!
In the first few days that we were there, it was really misty and foggy in Makkah.
Even at night!
There is a lot of construction work happening in the mosque.
Not as much as last year but still quite a bit.
Walking down the steps towards the Kabah.
Always cold Zam Zam, please!
The best spot in front of the Kabah.
Watching these cute old ladies taking their photos.
And, watching the Tawaf crowd walking past. Coming to Makkah makes you so proud to be Muslim. You see Muslims from every corner of the world. Many different languages ring out throughout the mosque and you find yourself trying to identify them all.
Aahh, it was so peaceful until the cleaners came our way and moved us.
Nothing and no one stands in the way of the cleaners.
May Allah reward them for all their hard work - ameen.
Construction happening on the new King Abdullah gate.
The best cosy corner!
This crunchy honey sesame granola was so good! i had it over strawberry yoghurt.
So, the hotel decided to put a giant pineapple in their fruit bowl.
I bet they didn't think anyone would ever actually slice it and eat it.
Except us! It was really sweet, by the way.
The first of many burgers in Makkah.
By day ...
... and by night, the Tawaf is always busy. And, why wouldn't it be? It's the one of the only acts of worship which can only be done here in Makkah.
Spot the eagle!
Birds eye view.
Oh my gosh, this milkshake was so good!
So, the hotel had the best curtains ever. They had these net curtains and then the thickest, heaviest curtains to block out all the bright light from the mosque below.
The walk to the Haram.
Love how the ladies section took over the Safa area. Anyone else think that there still isn't enough space for ladies in the mosque? All the sections we went to were always packed out whereas the men's sections were usually pretty empty!
Looking down on a part of the Safa mountain.
The hotel made sure that we always had our five a day.
Grilled lamb and fries for dinner one day. We would usually eat our dinner after Asr because the restaurant rush was slightly calmer then.
The mosque beginning to light up for the evening.
The lights would get brighter ...
... and brighter.
We cannot come to Makkah and not get our usual ice cream. It's five flavours (vanilla + chocolate + mango + watermelon + strawberry) in one and they all taste really fake but really good.
Busy mosque staircases. On our last few days, we discovered the escalators down to the mataaf area. 
Obligatory glass or two of cold Zam Zam.
Nosy pigeons!
Oh my gosh, those mini vegetarian spring rolls dipped into hot chilli garlic sauce were so good! Must recreate at home!
If I'm not mistaken, that small building is the library which has been built on the site of the Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) birthplace.
These were so sour! My favourite!
Makkah is in itself a miracle. How this giant city has grown from a barren valley is incredible. Having the beautiful hotel room view that we did, we could see that the whole city has grown and is revolved around one thing only - the Kabah. People are going towards it, leaving it or working in its mosque or the hotels, shops and area around it.
Day and night, pilgrims are coming and going from it.
For some, it's their first visit and for others, it will be their last.
May Allah accept it from them all - ameen.
We basically lived on burgers in Makkah! These beef cheeseburgers were so good!
Friday morning in Makkah!
The best recipe: one of these yoghurt pots + four of the hotel sugar sachets = heaven.
Friday dinner!
Fish burgers!
We were in Makkah for a week and it only got really busy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Makes sense because Friday and Saturday is the Saudi weekend.
Love these old houses of Makkah.
I hope they get to stay as they are.
Our last evening in Makkah! We would be leaving in the morning to go to Madinah.
The sadness when leaving Makkah is always made slightly easier by remembering that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had to leave this city too. The city where he was born, grew up, married, raised a family, received the first revelation of the Quran and went through so many hardships.
Leaving Makkah is always very bittersweet. The words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he was forced to leave always come to mind. But for us, we were a little happier, because after having studied the Prophet's (peace be upon him) life in Makkah while we were there for the week, we were now moving on to the Madinah section. At the same time, we were going to Madinah to visit the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself. 

I hope you enjoyed my photo diary! Have you ever visited Makkah? Any thoughts you'd like to share? Share below in the comments. Keep me in your duas please!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

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