A Short, yet Sweet Trip To Sultanate of Oman

Posted on 4/12/2017

Planning somewhere to go and landing up at some other place is what we all experience but such sudden changes are often experienced locally... We too had a similar experience, but the change was not local--- rather, it was a change in an International holiday destination.
We had plans to spend our Christmas holidays 2016 in FarEast and were all focused to go for the same but things didn’t work and finally we had to change our plans…After discussing and thinking a lot, my hubby came up with a place that we could explore and it was--Sultanate of OMAN. Spending Christmas eve in Oman was not a thrilling option at first, but we needed a break from work; kids needed a break after their exams, and in that moment--OMAN sounded more than a delight.

22nd December 2016 – By 6 pm, we reached Sultanate of OMAN- Muscat Airport. Thanks to Oman Air which dropped us safely to Oman, it was a lovely flight. On reaching Oman, we hired a car from the Airport Car Rental and drove straight to the Hotel. By the time we reached Hotel it was too dark then to admire the beauty of Oman. But it was an exciting new place, and there were many places to cover from next day.

Day 1: 23rd December, 2016- Woke up in the morning to find the hotel curtains were already opened wide and it was amazing to see out of the window. Huge Mountains encircled the entire place, and we were perhaps so excited because mountains cannot be found in Kuwait. After our heavy breakfast, we decided to meet our friends and having friends there was the only reason to select Oman for Christmas holidays. They lived in the place called Ruvi, around half an hour drive from the hotel. We said our quick hellos, and they took us to nearby places. We started with Corniche in the financial district which was a good start and worth a watch. We took few pictures near the corniche and then proceeded to Shangri-La Resort. We were fascinated to see the Christmas spirits; the place was very well decorated with Christmas ornaments and a huge Christmas tree within the resort premises was there with beautiful decoration. There were Ginger bread houses and every area was neatly and well equipped with Arab culture & the Christmas feel. After we finished with Shangri-La resort, we went to see the Al Alam Palace--the official palace of Sultan Qaboos of Oman. We strolled near the palace, took some pictures and returned back to hotel. Since the palace was restricted place, there wasn’t much to see except the beautiful landscape around the palace. Hence, we finished fast and went back to hotel. One thing I forgot to mention is that the Climate was super pleasant at 27 degrees. In the evening we went to City Center Mall which was very close to our hotel for buying summer clothes for kids.

Day 2: 24th December, 2016 - Our Day was planned to go out with our friends and their families to see Wadi Ad Dayqah which was on the hill top. It was a 2 hours drive. I must say people who love long drives must visit Oman. Sitting in the car continuously for 2 hours was too tiring but when we reached Wadi Ad Dayqah, it was a real bliss to our eyes. The dam looked amazing from top. It looked like there was an ocean on top of the cliff with clear blue still water. The place was open for all and there was a small garden, one restaurant with no entry charges and very clean. While having our lunch with our friends, we learnt that there were two more wadis near that place and were worth a visit. Now, since we had come to see the place we made a quick decision to go by ourselves and explore the place Wadi Sabh and Bimmah Sinkhole (the two places suggested). It was again a 2 hour drive to each place…The scenery was breath taking. We proceeded to Wadi Sabh and gazed at the beautiful mountains and landscapes... Once we reached Wadi Sabh, we had to park our car, take a boat and go across the river. There were two boats shuttling visitors from one side to the other for a fee. Once we reached the other side of stream, we started walking… walking… and walking for approx. 1 hour to see the wadi. It was a great adventure passing through caves and steep mountains. After reaching the spot we spent around 3 hours. The kids enjoyed swimming…While boarding the boat, the boat riders informed us to ensure to return back by specific time as they closed the boats around 5 pm. So, we had to hurry back again-- walking and walking and ensuring we don’t miss our way. Although we felt it was enough for that day, our next spot was to see Bimmah sinkhole, which is a touristic attraction... Our only regret is that we reached the place when it was dark, and we couldn’t see the place properly. We returned straight to hotel as it was too tiring, walking whole day.

Day 3: 25th December, 2016 - Christmas day! Another exciting day with festive moods... We had our breakfast and headed straight to Holy Spirit Church Ghala and heard the mass. The Church was beautifully decorated with large bouquet of fresh flowers. The Church Crib was commendable, made on a Ship theme which depicted the culture and essence of Arab world. Since we finished everything early, we made plans to visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque which is the grand jewel of Omani architecture and one of the most gorgeous mosques ever built in Oman. It has handmade Persian rug and the chandelier used inside were all of Swarovski crystal. People were required to dress modestly, and everyone had to cover their arms and legs and avoid wearing tight clothes. Abeyas and scarves were sold/hired in the mosque for a nominal amount. After we finished Grand Mosque, we checked in to see the Royal Opera House which had magnificent interior of decorated wood and classic Arab designs. It was worth stopping by to admire the beauty of the building and enjoy window-shopping in the adjacent Opera Galleria arcade. Since it was auspicious day, we had our lunch at Nandos savoring the South African cuisine and our favorite foods. Our Evening was to be in our friend’s house, and our friend had cooked different types of Mangalorean delicacies which we relished and cherish till now. Dinner was absolutely great!

Day 4: 26th December, 2016 - Our friends recommended that it’s a must see Fort – Nizwa fort and souq which is also a major attraction for tourists. We started on our journey early. Thanks to the guided route app which makes our lives comfortable and takes us to any destination with ease, we reached safely. We had to pay entry charges to enter the fort but entry for the kids was free. Most interesting was to observe the souq inside the fortress-- with many shops selling different types of handmade pottery, cultural artifacts, traditional clothes etc. One could feel the soul of the Omani Culture. Shops were only at the entrance and on walking further, we could see the large round shaped fortress. The most unique thing about this fort was that it had seven wells along with a living place for the rulers, and there were prisons and a prosecution ground.
We continued our walk down the mountain, taking beautiful pictures of the view. Only few restaurants were available outside the fort, and we ate biryani. After the fort, on our way home we saw a huge LuLu hypermarket, and we picked up Omani Halwa to carry back home and other stuff. In the Evening again we went to the nearby City Mall and did little shopping of few souvenirs and headed back to hotel and spent our quality time resting and enjoying in hotel pool.

Day 5: 27th December, 2016 - Finally…this day was our last day of our exotic trip. Our flight was in the evening and we had to checkout from hotel by afternoon. We had meticulously planned our morning--one day before. We planned to visit Nakhal fort, which was half an hour drive from our hotel. On our way, we found Nakhal Village, an Omani Village, another Oasis area with abundant source of water streaming from a nearby hot spring. The village looked so beautiful with different types of vegetation grown and thousands of palm trees inside. Nakhal fort depicted the Omani architecture and culture of rulers as they practiced during those years. The fort had been carefully renovated and plaques in English were found informing the history of the fort. The place looked green from all the sides, especially from the top of Nakhal fort. We took pictures from every angle. Once we covered viewing the fort, we drove to nearby Al Thowarah hot spring. I must say it was like a cherry on the cake. We witnessed the hot spring oozing from the foothills and felt amazing as we relaxed our feet in the hot spring, with tiny fish nibbling our feet. Kids enjoyed swimming in small pond. We wanted to stay for a long but time did not allow, as we had to rush to the hotel and do our departure formalities and go to the airport. Our trip finally came to an end but we cherish even today, the beautiful moments we had.

Overall, the trip was so much of fun--we could meet our friends, spend quality time with the family, enjoy the festive occasion and see the beautiful nature which God has so lovingly created.

Helen D Souza

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