Arrived in Muscat , early evening Friday. The first thing that we noticed was how quiet the airport was. Then, how quiet it was on the street. Then, everyone is driving in their own lane and not a horn to be heard. It was quite a change of pace from Delhi!
Our driver and future guide Khalid took us to our hotel for the night and we made arrangements to meet him for three days worth of tours. The hotel was very nice and after a good night’s sleep, a fantastic breakfast and a nice hot shower, we caught a cab over to our friends’ Martina and Lionel. As you may recall, we met them in Zanzibar about six weeks ago. Martina is Czech and Lionel is French. They live in Oman with their two young children Elena and Cedrik. Lionel is manager of a desalination project and Martina is a coordinator at the local French school. They have taken the time from their very busy lives to host us for the week that we are here. They started by taking us for a drive through Muscat to the Sultan’s palace. We walked around the beautiful ornate grounds in front of the palace and took a few pictures in front of the gates. From there we wandered along the docks where the cruise ships have a port of call. The children helped a man feed the seagulls and then we went across the street to explore the old fort and lookout tower. After climbing quite a few stairs, we got a wonderful view of the city. Muscat should be called the “White City” because 99% of the buildings are white. There are no skyscrapers as the law allows buildings to be only a few stories high. This ensures that everyone can see the mountains that rise along the city limits. There is much construction everywhere within Muscat as tourism continues to grow here. The freeway system and roads in general are new and well thought out.
Once we got back to ground level, we went into the souk (market), the largest and oldest in Muscat. Much like the markets in Thailand and India, the shops sold everything from soup to nuts. The big difference was that there was not the noise and general chaos that we have seen in other markets. Again, everything was clean, neat and organized.
We picked up some street food and headed back “home” for supper. As well as the street food of large and small samosas, deep fried chicken wraps, battered hard boiled eggs, and spicy deep fried onions, Martina had also made a large pot of spaghetti. The meal was delicious and the company second to none.
With the children in bed, we sat in the living room with some wine and visited like old friends. It was a wonderful close to a wonderful day.
This morning both Lionel and Martina had to work and the kids went to school. (work week here is Sunday to Thursday) . Martina dropped us off at her hairdressers so that I could get a haircut and Richard could wait patiently for me. Once that was complete we got our Google Maps running and walked for about an hour down to the Shati Al Qurum (loosely translated to The Beach). We walked along the beach letting the waves crash over our feet. The water was nice and warm and we wished that we had thought to bring our bathing suits. We took a cab back to the condo and are spending the rest of the afternoon writing and relaxing by the pool. Life is tough here in Muscat!!
The two Royal Yachts which apparently do not get used very often, but they sure are impressive.
Believe it or not we are standing in the Sea of Oman. Just a note to clarify that Michael Oman does not own this Sea.