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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Meteora's stunning hilltop architecture
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 15 July 2010 20:05

 The buildings in Meteora are built on almost inaccessible sandstone peaks

When we were getting ready to drive to Meteora, I asked the hotel receptionist  some questions about the place we were going to visit. She smiled and said we'd be amazed by the architecture of Meteora and how it was built. 

So we were pretty excited as we started our drive at 11am.

It took us three hours to get there, but the drive was certainly worth it. When we were close to Meteora, we could see the mountain and a small building on the top, but couldn't quite make out what it was at first. Once we got closer, we saw this unique an beautiful church built on top of the mountain, and it immediately reminded me of the mountaintop houses in Yemen.

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Alexander the Great was here
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 14 July 2010 20:10

 The Royal Tomb of Philip, where Alexander the Great buried his father

After a good sleep and nice breakfast, we headed out for a meeting with Dr. Angiliki Kottaridi, Director of Vergina Museum. The drive took us an hour and a half. 

Once we got there, she gave us a warm welcome and told us she was reading about our visit to Greece on the Culture Ministry website. She was fascinated with the idea of driving because she hate airplanes.

Dr Kottaridi did a lot of work in Kuwait and is familiar with Arab customs and traditions.  The meeting was good  and we exchanged gifts with her and invited her to visit Bahrain.

She also introduced us to Anna Tsamakda, who is restoring a terracotta head from the grave of a Macedonian Queen found in the royal acropolis.   Later  she gave us a tour of the museum, revealing an amazing knowledge of every single piece there.

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Time flies in fascinating Greece
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 14 July 2010 00:26

 Aristotelous Square in Thessaloniki

Today we woke up early – around 4:30am – and drove to the port to take the 6am ferry to Keromouti. We had to drive Petra to Thessaloniki airport to take the flight to Paris, to join her family. Abbas stayed behind as he was going to take the ferry at 10am to Kavala; he is going to do an art workshop with a Greek artist in Portoheli, south of Athens. 

While we were in the ferry, we enjoyed the sunrise...  it is an amazing feeling to see the sun rising up from the sea. 

Once we reached the mainland of Greece, we started our two and half drive to Thessaloniki airport. We said goodbye to Petra and thanked her for her time and her help with the tour.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism was very kind and booked us in Nepheli Hotel in the Panorama area in Thessaloniki. The hotel is excellent and the staff are very friendly. We went to the roof to have our breakfast and later went to our room to get some rest. 

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A virtual tour of Thassos Museum
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 08:54

As promised in an earlier post, here's a Flash-based 360º virtual tour of Thassos Museum. Click on the image below to view it. The Flash tour allows you to "enter" or "exit" a room and look around as well... just click on the red hotspots around the entranceways and stairways. You can also click and hold on the image to move around the room, and use the mouse wheel to zoom in or out.

Enjoy!

Thassos Museum virtual tour 

 
Exploring Thassos by motorbike
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Sunday, 11 July 2010 21:13

Exploring Thassos on our hogs! 

Earlier today, Taha and I rented scooters to go around the island and explore its beaches, little towns and some hidden gems. We decided to follow the road and take a full 100km round. We were following a map that we picked up from our hotel; it indicated where all the best beaches were, and sure enough, we picked two of the best beaches (Paradise and Golden beaches) and took a dip to to cool off. 

What wasn't really on the map were the secluded beaches, they weren't easily accessible and were rocky yet a lot of fun and gives the sense of being in your own private beach. We stopped by one of these beaches near Aliki and had a good swim.

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Driving around 'marble-ous' Thassos
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Sunday, 11 July 2010 19:01

 Thassos has some of the best marble in the world

The team today decided to split into two groups after breakfast – Ammar and Taha wanting to explore the island by bike, and the rest by car. For Abbas Almosawi, his wife Sameera and Petra, it's their first visit to the island. which means I have to be their tour guide, since I have been here twice before.

Thassos is considered one of the greenest islands in Greece, even if it isn't as famous as Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu or Rhodes. It belongs to the islands of the north Aegean. Close to Kavala, it has a green landscape, clean sea and outstanding beaches. Thassos (pop. 20,000) is 379 sq. km in area and has 95 km of coastline. 

Thassos was inhabited in prehistoric times (3500 - 2600 BC). In ancient times it was  known as Odonis or Idonis and was apparently settled by Thracian tribes initially. The Phoneticians arrived later and  at the beginning of the 7th century BC, colonisers came from Paros. After an arduous struggle they eventually expelled the Thracians and were able to exploit the island's rich mineral resources gold and marble.

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Celebrating a museum's reopening
Written by Petra Beuchert   
Saturday, 10 July 2010 18:32

Almosawi presenting Mr Pavlos two of his paintings 

Today after breakfast at the Blue Dream Palace Hotel in Limenaria, we drove to the ferry port of Thassos, where we met our friends, artist Abbas Al-Mosawi and his wife Sameera. Together we made our way to the Archaeological Museum of Thassos. 

The museum had been closed for renovations and this afternoon was the official re-opening ceremony. Among the guests were the Greek Minister of Culture Pavlos Geroulanos and the town's mayor. 

The minister welcomed the Friendship Arabia Expedition Team to Thassos and congratulated us on the journey. Ali exchanged gifts with the minister and museum officials and Abbas presented two of his paintings to the museum. 

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Greece Kalimira!
Written by Petra Beuchert   
Friday, 09 July 2010 11:24

 Taha feeds the seagulls

In case you're wondering what the headline means, it's "Good morning, Greece!"

Last night thunderstorms and heavy rainfall slowed down our journey and we decided to spend the night in a hotel near Tekirdag. The next morning, we completed the remaining 160 km to the Greek border. 

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Saying goodbye to wonderful Turkey
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 08 July 2010 12:06

Crossing the Bosphorus bridge from Asia into Europe

Today we had to go to the Customs office, since Haider had entered Turkey by car and registered it in his passport, which meant he couldn't leave without the car. 

We went to Customs and with the help of a Bahrain embassy representative explained  the situation and they agreed to delete the car from his passport.

Later on, we said goodbye to Shafeek and Haider and we started our drive to the north via Istanbul. It was sad to say goodbye to our team members and even more sad to say goodbye to this beautiful country. The Turkish people had been very generous to us during our visit. The short stay we had in Turkey has been an amazing experience for us.

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Back with some familiar faces
Written by Petra Beuchert   
Wednesday, 07 July 2010 18:18

 Mrs Kavlak with the Friendship Arabia team

I arrived at Antalya airport in the early hours on Monday morning. I was to meet the Friendship Arabia team in Ankara that evening. Because it is my first visit to Turkey I decided to take the bus to Ankara, rather than a plane to see as much as possible of the country during my short visit.

It was great to see everybody with whom I had spent part of the 2008 Tour with again. On our second day in Ankara we first made a visit to the Turkish Ministry of Culture. We were greeted by Mrs. Berrin Kavlak (Head of Department for Phonetic Arts) who gave us a warm welcome and also a brief insight into their tasks of promoting and supporting Turkish artists. We were also presented with gift boxes with CDs of various Turkish musicians and instrumental pieces. 

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A dash to Ankara
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Wednesday, 07 July 2010 09:36

Ali presents Mr Yilmaz a gift from the Bahrain Museum 

We left Capadocia in a rush to make it in time for an important meeting with the Head of Department of Culture and Museums and have dinner with the staff of the Embassy of Bahrain in Ankara. 

It was 3pm before we reached Ankara. We stopped at our hotel to check-in and pick up Petra who arrived earlier to join the team during our stay in Turkey. We're already on a tight schedule to meet up with Zulkuf Yilmaz, the Head of Department of Culture and Museums. We rushed to his office and did all the catching-up with Petra in the car. 

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