Cycling... on cruise
That’s right, this can be done too!
An alternative and fun way to visit faraway countries while relaxing on a cruise holiday.
As I have already anticipated by introducing myself, I had just begun a new life when unexpectedly the whole world stopped. I had been hired by MSC Cruises, in the role of Tour Escort to start practicing and then become Bike Leader Assistant. I worked on one of the most modern and large ships in the fleet, MSC Bellissima, and for two months I traveled between the countries of the Middle East.
I can only talk enthusiastically about this experience and I hope one day that everything will return to normal in order to finally become Bike Leader.
But who exactly is a Bike Leader?
He is a tour guide who specializes in cycling. He must be able to deal with emergency situations, know how to repair every part of a bike and manage a group of tourists with different levels of experience. With enthusiasm and sympathy, the Bike Leader manages to maintain a good mood among all bikers and to give everyone a unique and unforgettable experience. You can admire all the highlights that are also offered on bus tours, you take relaxing breaks and make friends with people from all over the world. The Bike Leader team plans and tests all the routes to show tourists the major attractions (and also some lesser known places, but perfect for a bike ride) and to let them have the best experience.
Let’s talk now a little more specifically about this first experience: the winter season in the countries of the Middle East.
These states “have born” very recently and have enriched themselves with the oil trade. In recent years, however, they realized that underground hydrocarbon reserves will not last forever and have therefore begun to invest in another direction: tourism and eco-sustainability. Of course, it is just the beginning and we cannot compare with the more advanced countries of Northern Europe…
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is making strides to promote cycling mobility and what you see in the picture is a futuristic sculpture that wants to emphasize just that.
Of course, we couldn’t miss to visit Abu Dhabi by bike! The route was one of my favorites because it takes place almost entirely on bike path and along the Corniche, the beautiful promenade where lush palm trees and flowers of a thousand colors grow, maintained to perfection in every season by efficient gardeners.
It was winter, but already the temperature exceeded 30° C and without too much difficulty I bathed several times, in every destination touched by the cruise.
The ship stops two days in Dubai and this is a great opportunity to visit the city at night and watch the beautiful fountains show at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper (828 m). Dubai is amazing: it is a huge city born in just a few years from the desert. Here everything seems possible, architecture and engineering have no limits.
Then, the ship stops in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Here too, skyscrapers with the most unbelievable shapes stand out. However, those who have the opportunity to compare these three major Arab cities will be ecstatic in front of Doha. Everywhere you can admire flower gardens and fountains, as well as buildings that are real works of art. In addition, the city has been made almost entirely bike friendly.
Next stop is Sir Bani Yas, a private island turned in nature reserve, where you can go on off-road safaris to observe cheetahs, giraffes, ostriches and different species of antelope.
After a day visiting Bahrain and its capital, Manama, the ship descends to Oman, to make a stopover in the capital, Muscat, and to Khasab, a small town characteristic for its steep fjords on the sea, which earned it the title of “Arab Norway”.
Muscat is a very beautiful city, flowery and extremely clean, as well as safe. This year Oman suffered a very serious loss: the elderly Sultan Qabus died, who in 50 years of government has brought the country from backwardness to modernity, building schools, roads, beautiful mosques and making himself very loved by his subjects.
This has been my life for two months and you can imagine how much I want to leave again to discover the world on the bicycle!