Intrepid traveller Ali Hussain Mushaima is well-known for his unique Friendship Arabia tours - journeying by road from Bahrain to various corners of the world. The message has remained the same right from the time he launched his first trip, a 3-month drive to Europe, many years ago: spread the word about Bahrain, its people and all it has to offer. Ali's newest tour, a two month journey from June 23, 2010, is titled: "Tylos to Thassos, Voyage of Discovery".


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A meeting with a soccer legend
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 26 June 2008 21:25

Ali with Paolo Rossi, second from right, and friends Luca and Lucia 

After spending a nice day in the village and the hotel, my friends Luca and  Lucia and I drove to a small village 30 km south of Florence called Loppiano to meet the people of an organisation called Focolare. This group had learnt about the Friendship Tour and wanted us to come and see what they do.

In the morning, we had a meeting with the directors who showed us around the centre, where people come from all around the world simply to live and work together.

After a good lunch at the centre, we drove to meet Paolo Rossi, the soccer legend who was instrumental in Italy winning the 1982 World Cup. Rossi learnt about the expedition from Luca and very kindly invited us to his holiday farm with its beautiful villas. 

I did a brief interview with him and he spoke about how much he loved this area. I invited him to come to Bahrain and perhaps visit some of the schools and do some charity work and he accepted it.

Tomorrow I will meet the communication director of Focolare and we will talk about how we can work together on our common goal, which is to promote friendship between people.

With people from all around the world at Focolare 

 
One of Italy's best-kept secrets
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 21:45

The Stella Maris Hotel, accessible only by boat, is a favourite with artists and poets 

After leaving my Venice hotel (which is a destination in itself, especially for meetings and conferences), I went to the car park, paid 60 euro for two days' parking, and drove to one of Italy's best kept secrets. 

This is a village called Camogli, 20 km east of Genoa, with its 'small tall' old buildings and its pretty harbour. 

I went to see Luca Moretti and his wife Lucia Oliva, who I had first met in Bahrain during the Bahrain International Travel Exchange (BITE) in May. They own and run a tailormade tours operation (see www.tripudium.it). 

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Land Rover gets a rest in water city
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Sunday, 22 June 2008 22:42

 The Hilton Molino Stucky Venice is a city landmark

After three days in Corfu, Greece, I took the ferry to Venice, Italy, where I had an invitation from the Hilton Molino Stucky Hotel. 

After the near constant driving of the past few weeks, having to spend 28 hours in the ferry felt even longer. It was hard to kill time... though I managed to catch up with some reading, spent some time on the internet, enjoyed some good food and made new friends. 

There is a swimming pool on deck, but if you've just come from Corfu with its beautiful beaches, you really do not want to swim in a small pool.

As the ferry got closer to shore in Venice, my eyes were drawn to a very attractive old building and a city landmark – this was the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice where I would be staying.

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Final day in Corfu
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Friday, 20 June 2008 22:08

It's my last day on Corfu Island, but Greece and its islands are like a second home for me and I know I will be back.

Tomorrow morning, I take the ferry to Venice where I will stay for two days and then travel for another three days to other cities in Italy.

 
'Friendships can overcome borders'
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Friday, 20 June 2008 21:31

Over the course of the trip, Ali and the rest of the Friendship Arabia team have been receiving many messages of encouragement. From time to time, we will feature some of these on the site.

Here's what Biljana Davceva has to say:

"I am a Macedonian who lives and works in Bahrain. I can't tell you how happy I am that Ali has visited my country on his route through the Middle East and Europe. 

"I do hope that he will have wonderful memories from Macedonia and that my people have given him warm hospitality just like the Bahrainis have offered me their hospitality and friendship during the past 5 years here in Bahrain.

"Your trip is proof that friendships and humanity can overcome any borders. Good luck for the rest of your trip."

• To send Ali a message, please use the Contact form. 

 

 
Another reason to come back!
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:54

 Ali, left, exchanges books with Sotirios Vosdou, Secretary General for the Region of Ionian Islands.

After a much needed rest, I woke up in the morning and called Mr. Spiros, who works in the tourism department of the Ionian Islands (which include Corfu). I had met him earlier in Dubai during the Arabian Travel Market, and he told me to get in touch with him when I visited the island.

When I arrived, I showed him some of our publications including the best-selling Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain and the first of our new travel book series, 101 Things to See and Do in Yemen. Three more books in the 101 Things... series are currently in the pipeline and Mr. Spiros was very interested in having the Ionian Islands added to that list.

He arranged for me to meet Sotirios Vosdou, secretary general for the Region of Ionian Islands and talked about tourism in general and how can we work together on some good projects.

Mr. Spiros also very kind and arranged to host us on the way back, to visit some small islands which are lesser known than Corfu and Kefalonia.

We exchanged books - he gave me a coffee table book about the Ionian Islands.

After lunch, I visited Sissy Moschidou, a Greek friend who run a ceramics workshop and does very nice pottery.

Later, it was off to enjoy the beach for a while before going to meet an artist friend and have dinner and go to bed early.

 
Time for a break in Greece
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 18 June 2008 22:18

Corfu Island in Greece 

After four busy days in Macedonia, I arrived at the Greek island of Corfu to rest for a couple of days and will also visit some friends. 

It was also hard to leave Macedonia since it was my first visit, but I am sure I will be back since I didn't have time to explore the entire country.

 I was amazed with the people, the landscape, the food and shopping. Unlike other European countries, it is not very expensive. I highly recommend it for people who want to discover new places.

With all that Macedonia has to offer, it deserves to be called the jewel of the Balkans.

Buying honey on the way to Corfu 

 
A shared cultural vision
Written by Valentina Miskovska-Petrovich   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 22:30

With new friends at the MKC, Saso Dodovski and his team

Yesterday was a very busy day. In the morning, Ali had a very interesting meeting with an enthusiastic bunch of young people who work with the Youth Cultural Centre (MKC in Macedonian), based in Bitola.

The people in MKC were very interested in Ali's tour and what it was all about, as their work also mainly deals with promoting understanding between different ethnicities and promoting cultural achievements.

They are currently working on an interesting event called Bitola Open City, which opens next month. Young people from all over the world will come and preform for the citizens of  Bitola, and show what can be achieved with goodwill and understanding.

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A ministerial welcome in Skopje
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 08:27

Ali presents Macedonia's Minister for Foreign Investment Gligor Tashkovich with a copy of the Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain (see bahrainguide.org) 

Prior to setting out on the Friendship Arabia Tour, I applied for my Macedonian visa at their mission in Doha, Qatar.

When the Macedonian Ambassador heard of the reason for my visit, he went out of his way to make me feel welcome, sending a car to my hotel in Doha to pick me up, gave me the visa, and asked his driver to drop me back. I was touched and impressed that he would do so much to promote his country.

When I arrived in the Macedonian capital Skopje today, I made it a point to call the Ambassador, who promptly arranged for me to meet the Minister for Foreign Investment Gligor Tashkovich. 

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So much to explore in Macedonia
Written by Valentina Miskovska-Petrovich   
Monday, 16 June 2008 07:24

The monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski (John the Baptist), high in the mountains. During the rule of the Ottomans, it was the Muslims from the surrounding villages who would defend the monastery from highway bandits. 

We started early to explore western Macedonia. 

Ali drove through the villages to the town of Kichevo, which is famous for their goldsmiths. From Kichevo, the road took us via the mountain pass of Straza(1,430m above sea level) to the town of Gostivar in the north-west corner of Macedonia. The town is a mix of cultures and religions, mainly ethic Albanian Muslims and Orthodox Christian Macedonians. We visited the main mosque in town, and the clock tower, witch many centuries ago was a part of the notorious Ottoman Turkish prison. 

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A busy first day in Macedonia
Written by Valentina Miskovska-Petrovich   
Saturday, 14 June 2008 21:52

Ali's hotel in Bitola, Macedonia , was originally an old house, built in 1915. The architecture is French Colonial with Austro-Hungarian details throw in. 

It feels great to be the newest member of the Friendship Arabia Tour team. Although I live and work in the UK, as a Macedonian, I do know my way around here.

I met Ali around noon and showed him a bit of Bitola. We took a walk through the Shirok Sokak, or Broad Street, and had lunch at a traditional Macedonian restaurant.

After that, we visited Haider Mosque in the heart of the old city. The mosque was built in 1506 and is the oldest religious structure still in use in the city. We also visited St. Dimitrious Church, built in 1863, which has one of the remaining intact wooden carved iconostases (wall of icons) in Macedonia.

We also walked through the old bazaar and market. 

After that we visited Heraklea Linkestis, a town founded by Philip II of Macedon, then taken by the Romans and Busantioum.

From Heraklea Linkestis we took a short ride (10km from the city centre) to Mountain Baba and the National Park Pelister where we stopped to take pictures  of the mountain and the panoramic view of Pelagonia Plain.


 


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