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".

Final stop a ferry ride away
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Friday, 04 July 2008 14:45

The Land Rover outside the Premier Inn in Holingbourne, which is 40 miles from London. 

After leaving France in the late afternoon, I drove to Calais, the French port from where the ferry leaves for Dover, England. 

The ferry left at 11pm and took about an hour and a half before docking in Dover.

I drove for a few miles, then stopped at a Bed & Breakfast for the night for a rest before the drive to London.

England is officially the final stop on the Friendship Arabia Tour, though I will also be taking in Scotland and Ireland before heading back to Bahrain.

Promoting Bahrain tops the agenda
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 03 July 2008 15:48

Outside the Gulf Air office in Paris 

This morning, after breakfast at the hotel, I drove to the Gulf Air office in Paris and was welcomed by the manager, Vincent Verdonck and his staff.

We had a good meeting and spoke about how we could promote Bahrain as a tourist destination and also as a one or two day transit stop for people flying beyond Bahrain.

Just walking in the rain
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 23:33

With Fiona Chan from Gulf Air's Paris office 

It has been raining all day since I reached Paris.

After getting to my hotel, I had a nice time just walking around the city. It was great to have the rain - not for the French, of course, but as for me, I've always enjoyed the rain just as how the travelers would enjoy some rain on their holidays to Spain.

Later, after returning to the hotel for a rest, I met up with Fiona Chan from Gulf Air's Paris office who invited me to dinner. We spoke about how we can work together to promote Bahrain in the future, especially with our national airline having a daily direct flight between Paris and Bahrain.

We also discussed how Bahrain could benefit by offering transit passengers who fly from France to the Far East a stopover for a day or two.

A warm welcome in Geneva
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 23:08

Bahrain Ambassador to the the United Nations Office in Geneva and Vienna Abdulla Abdul Latif and embassy staff looking at the tour map.

After spending three days in Lugano, I got into the Land Rover and set Geneva as the destination on my Garmin GPS. 

Once I started to drive, I noticed the navigator taking me there via Italy and France. I was a bit puzzled, but followed the route nevertheless, and sure enough, it got me to Geneva, back in Switzerland. When I arrived at my destination, I mentioned to my friends about the route I took and was informed that not only was this the best route, it was also the fastest!

Ticino an ideal vacation spot
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 30 June 2008 09:08

With Michel Cavadini from Ticino Tourism 

This morning I had coffee with my tour guide Peter Knapp, after which we went on a walking tour of Lugano's city centre to see some of the historic buildings as well as some of the newer ones.

Later, we returned to the hotel and then drove about 3km to Gandria, a village on the Italian border. We had a delicious meal here at the Locanda Gandriese, then walked around and explored this pretty village, which has only 219 inhabitants.

Swiss efficiency on display
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Sunday, 29 June 2008 08:09

Driving into Switzerland 

After a week in Italy, I left for Switzerland at 7am today, guided by my very reliable Garmin GPS fitted in my Land Rover.

The border crossing was as quick and efficient as you can expect with the Swiss, and I drove all the way to the Splendide Royal Hotel in Lugano.

Lugano is one of those unique areas in Switzerland that combines Swiss quality with Italian influences. It is famous for its lakes and mountains as well as its modern and ancient architecture.

Spreading friendship through song
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Friday, 27 June 2008 21:58

Ali, centre, with Gen Rosso band director Valerio Gentile, right, and another band member 

Today, I met Stefania Tanesini, who is the press officer for Focolare (see previous post) before going to visit the Gen Rosso ROSSO Band. Valerio Gentile and members of the band have travelled around Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America to promote friendship through music, so we do share a common goal.

The band  gave me a warm welcome and spoke about how pleased they were to meet someone who shared the ideals. They also mentioned that they would be very happy to do a concert or two in Bahrain or elsewhere in the Gulf, if there is interest.

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 

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.

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.


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