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Middle East » Oman » Muscat
September 18th 2008
Published: September 23rd 2008
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18TH SEPTEMBER

We spent a relaxing day swimming and catching up with a young Swiss couple, Alexia & Roman who had been on our Nile boat. We checked out around 6.30pm to go to the airport for our next adventure, 3 days in Muscat. We were taken to the airport by a driver and a transfer guide, we were met there by an airport escort who whisked us through the check-in at breakneck speed, passing the waiting crowds. We must have only taken 5 minutes to get through airport security, our bags checked in and the paperwork filled for customs, we were very impressed. Our airport escort (miracle man) said he had contacts and most certainly must have because when we arrived we thought we would have hours to check in. We both agreed we had certainly been given wonderful service from our tour providers South Sinai, who were the affiliates of our Australian travel agent Greece Med Travel.

We flew from Cairo to Amman then Amman to Muscat arriving at 5am in the morning. We were met by a driver who took us to our new hotel, the Shangri la Al Waha. We spent our first day relaxing by the pool and at the beach. The sea water was warm and wonderful to swim in, the only beach we visited in Egypt was Alexandria and it was so crowded we had not attempted a swim.

Our second day in Muscat we had a full day tour to the forts at Nizwa and Jabrin, the tour took us past spectacular rock formations, some of the mountains were made of rare ophiolite lava which can only be found in Oman and Cypress.

That night we took the Hotel shuttle in to the Souk, it was very busy and hot and I found the over-enthusiastic shopkeepers difficult. For once I did not enjoy shopping as we were being pestered so much to buy, even though it had been interesting to see the Souk and smell the Frankincense burning we were both glad to get the shuttle back to the sanctuary of the hotel.

Our third and last day we took a half day tour of Muscat. We visited the Souk again, this time because we were with our Omani guide we weren't pestered as much, possibly because he knew the people. We next visited the fish markets, the new stunning mosque, the Palace and the museum which gave us an insight to the Omani culture and history.

We both noticed the difference between Muscat and Egypt, even though Egypt and Muscat were both Islamic countries and climate was similar. In Egypt buildings often did not seem to be completed or painted making the cities look untidy, in Muscat the buildings appeared new and freshly painted.

The contrast between the countries is immense, possibly because of the dense population of Egypt and the sparse population of Oman. We went to Egypt because of the history, we weren't disappointed, the sights we saw will stay in our minds and hospitality and the friendliness of our guides and drivers made the trip. Going in the summer in the heat was hard work but also allowed us to avoid some of the crowds.

We enjoyed both countries for different reasons and would highly recommend both to anyone thinking of travelling.







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24th September 2008

Wow!
James can't wait to hear all about the pyramids when you get back.

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