Driven by a passion to explore Arab culture, a 60-year-old Spanish biker rode all the way to Doha from his hometown Barcelona recently. Pere Paré spent a few days and visited his daughter Um Hessa and granddaughter Hessa and toured various tourist destinations in Qatar.
Paré visited the Old Doha port, the National Museum of Qatar, the Doha Corniche, Souq Waqif, The Pearl Island, Al Maha Island, Lusail, Al Khor and Sealine Beach where he explored the Qatari culture and heritage in pleasant weather.
Sealine Beach and the nearby sand dunes earned special praise from the Spanish rider.
“I love everything in Qatar. How clean is the city, how new are the buildings. but I really love Sealine. I'm fascinated by how life was before oil and how life could have been in the desert,” Paré told Gulf Times during an online chat.
Qatar, along with Greece, is one of his favourite countries for the several fascinating features including the warm hospitality Qataris extend towards guests, the traveller explained.
“Qatar is my favourite because of course my family is here. Also, since my first time here, I felt the rich, warm hospitality of the people. I met wonderful people and they really treated us like family,” he said, adding that he loves the principles that Qatari citizens have. “Their ethics are strong and firm, and nowadays this is so hard to find anywhere,” he noted.
“I really love Greece. It’s one of the origins of my culture and because of its people and especially because of the colour of the sea,” he said.
Paré started his road trip on March 27 and on the way to Qatar, covered Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. He left Doha on April 18.
This was Pare's second visit to Qatar. “Everything has been special from the moment I started the trip. The highlights are discovering the Middle East and how warm and helpful their people are.
“I have been lucky to be in Qatar during the holy month of Ramadan. I have so much respect for Muslims,” he said.
Having studied Anglo Germanic philology, Paré has worked in the sales and marketing field. He is the owner of a gluten-free company in Barcelona and also collaborates with an American pharma company.
Upholding the moto ‘Go Out And Live’, Paré ventures to new places to experience the cultural difference. He has so far visited more than 40 countries. “I can't recall when I started travelling because I have been visiting other countries my whole life. Sometimes for business and sometimes for leisure,” he said.
This is not the first time Paré traveled on his motorbike. In the 1980s, he travelled from Barcelona to Scotland. “Even by car, I have also visited many European countries,” he said.
Pare likes to spend time by himself. “When you travel with a group it’s a little bit challenging,” he said when asked why he wanted to be a solo rider. “I am free to follow the route I want depending on how comfortable I feel in each place. Besides I get to decide if I want to spend more time at a place to visit places,” he added explaining the reasons for his solo trips.
“On the trip to Scotland, we went with a group, but on the way back, we decided to take different routes and I came back alone. They were more focused on racing rather than living the experience,” he added.
After returning to Barcelona, Paré plans to go to Egypt and take a ferry from Alexandria to Europe. “I couldn’t find anything online. So I decided not to risk it and go back the same way and take the ferry from Greece to Italy or Barcelona,” he said.
Paré drove to Doha on a BMW R1200GS. “It’s an excellent motorbike to do these types of road trips. It´s reliable, comfortable and fast,” he said. All went smoothly except for some challenges in Iraq and Saudi where he struggled finding petrol stations. “I met people selling fuel on the road. It was even difficult to locate the signage. Even some of the petrol stations in the desert were abandoned. But, I was carrying a spare fuel tank with me to avoid surprises,” he said.
Paré was able to explore the Arab-Turkish cuisine during the trip. Ever since he entered Turkey and until Kuwait, all he ate was kebabs since he didn’t know how to order anything else. In Saudi, he discovered the Iftar buffets.
“I was on a video call with my daughter and I told her that there was a wedding next to the swimming pool. She explained to me that there are no weddings during Ramadan and most probably it was an Iftar buffet and suggested that I go down and try it. It was the best dinner of my trip! It was indeed an Iftar buffet and I tried all the food. I was so full that that night it was a bit difficult to sleep,” he said.
"Anyone can catch a flight to go shopping. But when you travel on a bike, you meet people, learn about their culture, life, food and lifestyle among others. When you do this, your life will change. You become less judgemental and discover new things that you can incorporate into your daily life. Once you start get ready because you won't be able to stop,” he said.
Paré always tells his kids: “When you are on the road, you should never be in a hurry, the important thing isn’t at what time you will reach but to reach”.
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