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Golden hour worth the wait
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Friday, 01 August 2008 23:19

Today was a relaxing day in Annecy, France. Not that we wanted it to be, but it was pouring rain most of the day. 

With very little to do, I put together some 360º Quicktime movies of our hotel room while we waited for a respite from the rain.

Fortunately the clouds cleared at the right time, at what we photographers call the golden hour. It's the time just before sunset and we had the chance to capture the colourful sky, the mountains and the lake in their full glory. 

Shafeeq and I went trigger happy and took many photographs of the lake and the surrounding areas.


 
The magic of Paris
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Thursday, 31 July 2008 22:36

View from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris 

Yesterday, Ali had to work on some logistics for the coming stops, so Shafeeq and I decided not to waste the day and headed to Paris from Brussels early in the morning. 

It was our first visit to Paris and we wanted to make the most of it. We reached Paris at about 9:30am and – thanks to Denis O'Dwyer's primer on the city – quickly got familiar with its efficient metro system. 

The first thing we did was to visit Basilique du Sacré-Cœur which lies at the highest point in Paris. It was a great place to start since you can see the whole city from up there and also witness one of its architectural and historical wonders.

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Ambassador plays the perfect host
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 29 July 2008 23:29

At the Bahrain embassy with Mr. Ghaffar and Mr. Ebrahim Abdulla 

We started our day by having a traditional Belgian breakfast, prepared by Denis O'Dwyer, along with a traditional Bahraini one with eggs and tomato, which is what the people of Bahrain usually have in the morning. 

Then we contacted the Bahrain embassy in Brussels and asked if we could come and meet the Ambassador, H.E. Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar. We had an immediate response back: Not only would the Ambassador be more than happy to meet up with us, he was also aware of the Friendship Arabia Tour.

After the meeting, Denis presented Mr Ghaffar with his book Colours of Bahrain. The meeting lasted an hour and we were very grateful to Mr Ghaffar for making the time and meeting us at short notice. 

Mr Ghaffar even invited us to have lunch or dinner with him tomorrow, but we had to decline as we will be on our way to France.

Later in the day, we decided to visit Brugge, a town described as Little Venice. After parking the Land Rover and buying our boat tickets, we met a Bahraini who initiated a conversation after noticing I was wearing a Bahrain International Circuit T-shirt.

 The team with Shaikh Nawaf bin Hamad Al Khalifa

We introduced ourselves during the tour - his name was Sheikh Nawaf Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa - and we had a good talk and took pictures with him.

After leaving Brugge, we drove back to our accommodation, had dinner and went to bed. We are looking Forward to our next destination, France, especially the Anncey area, which is close to Geneva.

 

 
A detour to Brussels
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 28 July 2008 23:13

Ali with Denis O'Dwyer and his book Colours of Bahrain, which featured the art of Abbas Al Mosawi

After four days of exploring Scotland, it was very hard to leave, but as it was, tickets for the ferry from Newcastle, England, to Amsterdam in the Netherlands had been booked. 

The drive from Perthshire to Edinburgh went smoothly, then we drove to Newcastle to take the ferry.

After check-in, we went to the top deck to enjoy the view, then after the ferry set sail, we had dinner, worked for a bit in our cabin and then went to bed.

After arriving in the Netherlands, we drove to Utrecht, a quiet and pretty town which is home to the famous Domkerk Church.

I had earlier accepted an invitation from a friend, Denis O'Dwyer to visit him in Brussels, so we drove on to Belgium. Denis published Colours of Bahrain, a book featuring the work of leading Bahraini artist Abbas Al Mosawi, last year. (More info at coloursofbahrain.com).


 
More pictures from Kuwait
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 24 November 2008 12:33
Danish archaeologist Dr. Flemming Hojlund at work in Failaka Island, Kuwait.
Setting up camp on the island
 
Launch of a regional tour
Written by Roy Kietzman   
Sunday, 23 November 2008 10:35
From left, Peter Bye Jensen, Camilla Bjarnoe and Dr. Flemming Hojlund in Failaka Island, Kuwait.

 

Ali with the Danish team in Failaka 

Following in the footsteps of the Danish archaeological expedition of the 1950s, intrepid traveller Ali Mushaima has arrived in Kuwait for a three-day overland voyage with his Land Rover.

He met the Danish archaeologists from Moesgard Museum currently working on Kuwait's island of Failaka where the successors of Alexander the Great built a temple and a fortified city.

The Expedition to Kuwait is the first leg of an overland  trip in January, taking him to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman to visit the digs of ancient sites that the Danes unearthed in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Farewell to fabulous Oman
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 07 April 2009 12:38
Ali presents a copy of the Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain to Turkish Ambassador Engin Turker

It is our last day in Oman, and I woke up with a feeling of sadness that our trip through this beautiful country was about to end.

After a quick breakfast, I drove Sarah and Shafiq to the airport. As we began preparing to leave ourselves, we met four young Canadian women, adventurous spirits who had came to explore and write about Oman.

The team with Canadian adventurers Lisa, Jennifer, Hana and Colleen

They are writing about their travels on their blog (www.arabianlala.blogspot.com). We had a good conversation about our expedition and they were very interested to learn more about future trips.

We took group pictures with them before we left the hotel, then drove to the Turkish Embassy to meet the Ambassador Engin Turker. We had first met Mr Turker many years earlier when he was Turkey's Ambassador to Bahrain.

The Ambassador was very pleased to meet us and we presented him with the latest copy of the Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain. He talked to us about his love to Bahrain and Oman. Mr Turker is an outstanding ambassador for his country and I personally have learnt a lot, directly and indirectly, from him.  I always call him my teacher. 

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The incredibly hospitable Omanis
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Sunday, 05 April 2009 15:50
Ali presenting a copy of the Visitor’s Complete Guide to Bahrain to the Wali of Ibra, and in turn receiving a commemorative plate

I’m sure you’ve all been there; the moment when you want to put your fist through your computer because your work has disappeared before you managed to save it or the internet fails for the nth time, an unhelpful message pops up on the screen and you just want to curl up in a corner and cry.  

Last night was one of those frustrating times when at the end of a long day we were filing our report home and disaster struck; our files would not go through.  Happily we were rescued by Mahfoodh al Jaffari in the town of Al Askharah on the east coast of Oman who kept his internet café open until well after midnight (even though he normally closed at 10.30) and plied us with mint tea in true Oman fashion while we struggled with an uncooperative computer system.  

For him there was no particular reward other than our heartfelt thanks. For us, it was another example of Omani hospitality and a new friendship unexpectedly forged.

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Four beaches in a day!
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Saturday, 04 April 2009 23:28
Standing on top of the world (or a camel at least) at Wahiba Sands

Camping in the desert is an adventure not to be missed in Oman, if only to experience the peace and tranquility of a moonlit, starry night where the stillness and silence is only punctuated by the swish of the wind.  

I’ll admit to finding the night in my tent a little short, what with being woken at midnight by moonlight pouring through its walls and again at 5am when a watery sun filtered in. 

But, that aside, for me it was one of the highlights of our journey across Oman so far; to see a camel train strolling by at breakfast was slightly surreal.  And, what on earth was that camel driver doing on top of his camel, as mother and off-spring sauntered across the dunes?  Something akin to a circus-act but for me a far superior mode of transport in the desert than the roaring 4x4s in full-on “dune bashing” session this morning; boys and their toys!  

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Oman's terrain a study in contrasts
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Friday, 03 April 2009 00:00

Omani standing at the gate of Nizwa fort

 

This morning we were sad to bid farewell to what had been our “home from home” at Hamad bin Nasser Al Hashimi’s traditional Omani village in Bahla. We planned to visit the famous Al Hoota caves nearby. Unfortunately, due to the heavy rains, the caves were closed for safety reasons and a “Plan B” was required. Happily our guide Mohammad had the perfect alternative; a trip to Wadi Tanuf, a short drive from Bahla.

The approach to Wadi Tanuf took us past the ruins of the old village of Tanuf. Nestled at the foot of mountains, it is a maze of the remains of a hundred or more old buildings and makes an excellent place to explore on foot before heading to the Wadi itself. 

Arriving at the wadi we realized there was a benefit to the rains of the past few days; the wadi was full of rushing water, the vegetation lining the banks was a rich green and a beautiful waterfall was a cascade of shimmering, crystal clear water. 

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A taste of Omani hospitality
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Thursday, 02 April 2009 14:23
View from Saiq Plain at top of Jebel Akhdar

 

Omani hospitality is world renowned. And our experience this week has been no exception. In fact, we've spent the last two nights enjoying the hospitality of Hamad bin Nasser Al Hashimi at his Traditional Village on the outskirts of the town of Bahla. 

Mr Hamad is 17 years into a 20 year project to create a cultural centre celebrating traditional Omani crafts; providing a place where tourists can learn about Omani culture while enjoying a range of facilities. When it's completed, there'll be 45 guest rooms in traditional, Bedouin and modern styles, a Bedouin area show casing Bedouin life including live stock and farming techniques and a hall for enjoying traditional Omani food and drinks. 

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