It's the end of the road for me
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Thursday, 12 June 2008 23:07

Dinner with Defne, Elvan and Ahmet

It's been a wild three weeks since our journey started. There's been something new to experience everyday, places to see and people to meet in what has seemed like a never ending journey. I was fortunate to be chosen as a photographer for this amazing trip. It was definitely worthwhile and exciting. While it could not be at par with other events in terms of grandiosity, the whole trip was certainly a blast

Today I leave Friendship Arabia, though I will catch up with Ali on his way back from Britain, sometime around mid July.

We had only one full day pencilled in for Istanbul and today was that day. We tried to make the best of it. 

The long journey to Istanbul
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 21:14

 On the road to Istanbul

Early this morning, we left Alanya, a town that most of us never heard of  before but came to love. The good times we had in the town along with our Finnish friends will stay in the memory for years to come.

The distance between Alanya and our next destination Istanbul is 800km, clearly not a short stroll. We had to leave at the crack of dawn to make it before nightfall. It was an enjoyable drive - the scenery and the weather were perfect to say the least.

Once we started to get closer to Istanbul, the traffic got slower and slower until it reached a complete halt. We learnt later, while we were stretching our legs in the middle of the highway and mingling with other drivers, that there had been an accident on the bridge that separates that city's Asian and European sections and traffic had to be stopped in order to clear it. 

An hour or so later, we started moving again and headed to our hotel while mesmerised by the beautifully lit grand mosques scattered around the city. The trip took 12 hours, thanks to Ali and David who made the long ride seem shorter with their excellent driving skills.

We checked in at our hotel and left soon after to have dinner. Turkey was playing Switzerland in the European Cup soccer tournament and everybody was on edge because the score was 1-1 heading into injury time. As we got up to leave, Turkey scored its second goal and everybody - Turkish and tourists - were jumping in joy. Even police cars turned on their sirens to celebrate the win. 

Right there and then we felt at home. We're looking forward to visiting Istanbul's historic sights tomorrow.

Farewell to friendly Alanya
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 10 June 2008 22:54

Mr. Browning, second from right, with the Friendship Arabia team 

We were very pleased today to meet Richard Browning, CEO of Riffa Views, one of the Friendship Arabia tour's major sponsors, who happened to be on a visit to Turkey. Mr Browning was kind enough to make some time to meet the expedition team and spoke about the importance of this trip to promote Bahrain.

He was very encouraging and we appreciated the time he gave us.

Upon our return to the villa, we had an invitation from Ismet Saz, a Turkish merchant, who hosted the team for a very nice dinner in one of the finest restaurants in Alanya.

Tomorrow, we leave Alanya and our many old and new friends, and drive to Istanbul early in the morning.

A Finnish welcome in Turkey
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Tuesday, 10 June 2008 00:14

Ali, Estella, Dr. Nazar, David, Dura, Mika, Vega and Iry, with Ammar behind the camera 

After a long drive through Syria, the Friendship Arabia has reached its latest  destination: Turkey!

It was in Syria that we had to say goodbye to four members of our team: Petra, Rebecca, Haider and Taha. All are being missed greatly as each one of them had contributed a lot of effort into this tour, and not forgetting the joy of their company. 

On the other hand, Dr. Nazar Al Haddad from Gulf Air has joined the team on its latest leg, and will accompany the team through Turkey as a photographer.

Crossing the Syrian/Turkish border went smoothly. The weather was nothing short of perfect (for photography at least).