Blogs from Oman, Middle East

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Middle East » Oman » Muscat January 20th 2015

This morning we woke to watch the sunrise over Jebel Shams, a mountain range 3000 meters above sea level in the Western Hajar mountains, the peace and serenity is to die for! We have had a trendous time in Oman and being our last blog, we have decided to include various highlights from our trip here. We returned to the Sultan's Palace and did a wonderful day trip to Al Seifa, a seaside village and tourist spot with my Uncle. With a friend, my Aunty and I visited the Grand Mosque in Muscat, but we were deemed inappropriately dressed, as my sleeves were too short and Aunty Bern's white trousers too see through! Hmmm! This being the case we had to hire abajas and of course it is always necessary to wear a scarf when you ... read more
Sultan's Palace
The Grand Mosque
Dressing up with Aunty Bern

Middle East » Oman » Ash Sharqiya January 16th 2015

Hey Everyone, So far on our Omani Journey...we have done a BIG Bus tour of Muscat, where the Sultans Palace and Port were our highlights. We headed down the coast to a place called Hayiwat Najm (known as the Dabab Sinkhole) which is a limestone hole 20x40m of unknown depth and immense beauty, where we dipped our feet, only to have our toes nibbled by pedicure fish (not their scientific name)..something you pay a fortune for in a spa. You can't help but laugh, almost hysterically! Not far from the Sinkhole we visited Wadi Shab, a creek surrounded by mountains, where we treked for a couple of hours, taking in the beauty and serenity. After staying a night in a beautiful hotel on a cliff overlooking the Sea of Oman we headed inland to a Desert ... read more
Souk
Wadi Shab...the photos don't do it justice.
Sultan's Marina

Middle East » Oman January 1st 2015

New Year Traveled up the coast to the town of Seeb north of Muscat. A couple of worthwhile stops were a Bimmah Sinkhole, located in Hawiyat Najm Park , similar to the cenotes in Mexico. Lovely clear water, in a dramatic setting with a few people swimming. Then Wadi Dayqah dam, the biggest in Oman, which was an impressive structure in a stunning location. They had nicely landscaped a viewpoint at the top making a good place for a picnic. There’s a small area to walk around to take pictures of mountains reflected in the water. About an hour west of Seeb towards the Hajar mountains is Nakhal Fort. We assumed it would be similar to Nizwa and Bahla, so pleasantly surprised to see such a huge fort with the impressive backdrop of the mountains. The ... read more
Nakhal Fort
Nakhal Fort, typcal room interior
Nakhal Fort

Middle East » Oman December 27th 2014

Ras Al Jin and Sur Down on the coast again after a day driving down from the mountains and across the edge of the desert. After an early morning walk on the beach outside the hotel drove in the Muscat direction. Stopped for coffee at Ras al Jin the turtle conservation beach. Wandered down to the beach from the hotel and were taken back by the beauty of the place. Long sandy beach, lovely creamy sandstone rock cliffs and beautiful blue sea. Just a few people there enjoying the sun and sea. Also surprised at the number of turtle tracks and nests that must have appeared in the last night or so, it’s not supposed to be the season. A fortuitous stop for a coffee. After that lovely couple of hours we drove on to our ... read more
Turtle tracks and nest
Ras Al Jin
Wadi Shab

Middle East » Oman December 25th 2014

Hiking in the Mountains Our first big hike happened by accident. The guidebook had only mentioned a short walk into Wadi Ghul, instead we enjoyed a 14km return walk to a deserted village. Each of the following days we did parallel walks gradually higher up the canyon. It was a stunning walk and probably our favourite of the three, partly due to the unexpectedness of it. Huge 1000m high cliffs in different colours, following a partly dry stream and ending at a deserted village that is still farmed with date palms and other crops. No one else walking but we were passed by a number of 4WDs. Steve had booked a resort hotel up in the mountains as a surprise for Christmas Day. Drove up first ting and we’re very happy that they had the room ... read more
Wadi Ghul canyon
Village at end of wadi
View on balcony walk

Middle East » Oman December 24th 2014

Hajar Mountains, Forts and tombs Drove up out of Muscat into the foothills of the Hajar Mountains. Beautiful rocks everywhere, so many colours. Does look a bit like driving through a colourful quarry, big heaps (hills) of crumbly rocks. On the way to our hotel in Bahla we stopped in the old town of Nizwa. Old refers to the very heart, the rest is undergoing significant renovation with big highway expansions and a new university amongst other things. The fort was initially built in the 9th century and renovated I the 17th by and Imam best known for removing the Portuguese for Oman, it was a centre of learning, culture and Islam for a long time. The main part of the fort is the massive, squat round tower. Whole place is well restored with lots of ... read more
View from Nizwa fort
Misfah village
Falaj in Misfah

Middle East » Oman » Muscat December 21st 2014

We momentarily left UAE and headed to Oman. We are in Muscat, a gulf city on the coast, enjoying beautiful weather, gorgeous architecture, fantastic food and more shopping than you can shake a camel stick at! Our visit to the Old Souq at Mutrah turned into a day long excursion that included people watching, strolling along the corniche and lots and lots of shopping. The wares consisted of the usual suspects: jewels, pashminas, tacky souvenirs and "handmade antique one-of-a kind" items that seem to be in every shop. Omani currency is the Rial, and 1 Rial is the equivalent of about $2.60. Prices were reasonable and food seemed somewhat cheaper than in the Midwest. Despite the reasonable prices, cash turned out to be a barrier in Oman. We had money, but it was almost impossible to ... read more
Too Many Choices
Arabic Coffee Pots
Pottery Among the Bedouin Carpets

Middle East » Oman » Muscat December 21st 2014

Muscat Started with a visit to the magnificent Grand Mosque. It’s quite new and has a stunning main prayer hall with massive chandelier, beautiful tiles and the world’s second largest Persian carpet that was also beautiful. The outside is vast, many shady courtyards and big lawns, a peaceful place. Mutrahis the heart of the traditional area with its corniche that goes between the souq and Old Muscat. Had lunch at an old watchtower on the corniche, (later to discover that these are absolutely everywhere in Oman). Walked along the waterfront into Old Muscat, not at all lively, government buildings and a big palace. On the rocks that create the harbor for the palace there’s writing dating back centuries from ships visiting the harbour, clearly some British HMS … Apparently this is called the “Sultan’s Visitor’s Book”. ... read more
View from watchtower
Qantab
Muscat from hike int he hills

Middle East » Oman » Muscat December 20th 2014

It has been a strange struggle trying to acces technology on this trip. The technology itself is readily available--wifi and internet services abound. The unexpected situation has been trying to access our accounts. When we arrived in Abu Dhabi, we nonchanlantly thought we would check our emails and quickly realized we were denied access. We tried logging in on Kyle's iPad and again on the computers provided by the hotel, but each time we received a message we could not log in because we were using a device or logging in from a location we had not used before. This has never been an issue on any of our previous trips, so we are unsure if this is a new practice or if this was related to our location. We were instructed to complete a survey ... read more
Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore...

Middle East » Oman » Muscat December 19th 2014

Arriving The journey to Muscat was easy once we were in the airport, but dealing with Doha’s new airport did not prove the simple task we had anticipated. The problem lay with the very new and free long-term parking. Despite being completed only a few months ago it was full. We couldn’t quite believe the security guards who told us this, so drove up and down every row until quite convinced that there wasn’t one parking spot left for us. Dilemma; drive all the way home and call a taxi, oh but wait taxis normally say they’ll be with you in 3 hours time, if you’re lucky, or pay for short-term parking which is priced per hour. Quick thinking on the mad dash out of the airport was to park at he Marriott Hotel just outside ... read more




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