In early 2015, I was given the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah pilgrimage. It almost didn’t happen though. Firstly, thanks to a corrupt and deceitful travel agent my passport sat in a drawer for two weeks instead of being sent to the embassy. Then, secondly, I was stymied by the sheer incompetence of the staff at the Saudi embassy – who mis-typed my nationality into their system as “Paraguayan” (WTF??), then refused to admit they’d made a mistake, and instead questioned whether my British passport was genuine!! Anyway, thanks to the kindly intervention of another travel agent, I got my Saudi visa literally five hours before my flight to Madinah was due to leave.
I’m lazy. Very, very lazy. So it was inevitable I’d find myself a hotel as close as possible to the main attraction – The Prophet’s Mosque – without breaking the budget. The Intercontinental seemed ideal as it was 3 minutes walk away from Al Masjid an Nabawi, and there was a good chance they’d upgrade me too. Of course, they did. 🙂