On Saturday I came back from a weekend trip to Oman – Muscat. I really enjoyed the 3 days off in a different city. We used to travel a lot but when we moved to Dubai, it was all new and there weren’t enough time and money for exploring new countries as we was used to. We have done only 2 short trips to our home city Prague from the time we moved to Dubai. As I said, Muscat is completely different from Dubai or cities I have ever been to. It seems like whole city has frozen in the last century. Muscat has very rich history and culture, which you can find in every part of the city. There’s nothing like skyscrapers or amazing shopping malls, but an amazing nature. Just mountains are around a whole city, from where you can see small white houses and villas of inhabitants of Muscat. The mountains are stunning, even from our hotel window I could see sunrise coming from the mountains.
I think I can say that this trip was my idea so I took an initiative and prepared a whole plan. I had read a lot of amazing articles about Oman: how to get there, what to see there, where to rent a car… But the most information I took from Tripadvisor. Since we are still lack of car, our transportation should have been provided by bus. Bus is coming from Dubai to Muscat 3 times a day and a journey takes at least 5 hours. In case of any issue at the borders, it could be much more. I want to make our trip more backpacking trip and go by bus. But we finally chose to fly there, it takes only 1 hour and one more advantage is that the most car rentals are at the airport. So my bf made a decision and booked our flights. This has one more advantage – duty free store! If you know what I mean 😉 When you live in Dubai every flight is worth a gold.
Flight took only 1 hour we flew with Emirates and expected their usual standards, but it was so fast that only first lines were served with coffee (morning flight). I was looking forward to drinks on the board, but nothing! It was an older craft without films and games at its screens. Never mind it was calm and fast flight though. After landing one super surprise was awaiting us. We had booked a car day before. The renting company was Dollar, the only one without a stand at the airport as we found out later at the airport. After a long time looking for someone and asking for the company, we decided to choose a different one with a proper stand. We asked for a car a first available guy from a renting company, but he made such a surprise face like: What do you want? A car? Here in a car renting stand? What? I don’t have any car here. Second one – the same story. Finally we had luck in third renting company. Fortunately there were about 10 rental companies ufff, some of them without car though. 😀 And After a while we already had a car! Then bought a sim card with internet to use it for a GPS. I usually use Google Maps Navigation, but be careful Google Maps are not allowed in Oman. You can still use them but GPS doesn’t work correctly. Anyway we used it, but accidentally got lost more than needed.
Our first stop was for a lunch. When I had planned a whole itinerary I had supposed to go to a nice traditional restaurant for our first lunch of a vacation. Unfortunately on a way from the airport to the city centre there was nothing! We just passed some petrol stations but nothing else. Since we also needed to visit a toilet, we decided to stop at one of these stations, where Hardee’s (Fast Food) was, too. I don’t know if all petrol stations and fast foods in Muscat have so horrible messy toilet (if it is even possible to call that a toilet), but it was a disaster!!! We ate our ‘very healthy’ lunch with Oreo Milkshake yammmmy J but I said I would try to wait for a real, nice smell and clean bathroom. And you know what? I really found one – in Mosque. Thanks God!!
A whole image of the city and a day was saved by 2 incredible Mosques, we visited that afternoon. The first one – Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is stunning. Moreover the biggest advantage of Muscat is that there is no one. If you go to the most famous mosque in Muscat you will, be aware that you will be alone there. A large and peaceful place. If you want to know a little bit more about the place, don’t hesitate to ask the guards next to the door. They are very kind and helpful. Anyway you can go inside only in the morning from 8,30am till 11am and ladies must be covered, of course. Unfortunately we didn’t finally make it to go inside, but it must be a good opportunity to see the second biggest carpet in the world, that weights 21 tonnes or a 14 metres tall chandelier in a prayer hall. Around the mosque there is a nice park with flowers and palms. It is very nice and calm place, where you can take pictures and enjoy it all alone without other tourists. Appreciated!
Our second stop was for another mosque – Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque. Good thing of this mosque isn’t its beauty or a size, but a place where it’s situated. You can see whole Muscat and mountains from this place, because it’s on a hill. They won’t let you in but there is a large square in front of the mosque, from which you have a spectacular view. Moreover guards at this mosque knew our famous football goalkeeper Petr Čech, so they got like us more and tried to teach us how to say Czech in Arabic. Unforgettable! J Have I mentioned how nice people are there? Omani people are very keen, helpful and always smiling. Love it!
After inspection all Mosques nearby we hit a road to our hotel. Since I had firstly thought, we would had gone by bus, I had chosen a hotel near the bus station and also near the old town – Mutrah, which is on the other side of the city from the airport. I had chosen the hotel on my own (Mutrah Hotel), supposed to be a surprise for my bf, therefor I felt a bit afraid how it would look like. But my worries were needless, hotel was a nice surprise, a bit older but with an original Omani traditional style. I actually really liked it. It was enough for 2 nights and as a starting point.
After a short break in a hotel bed, one more sightseeing tour was waiting– Qurum Beach and Royal Opera House nearby. We decided to find a popular promenade at Qurum beach with restaurants on a beach (according to all articles and what I have heart), but couldn’t find neither a nice beach neither a promenade. Muscat doesn’t have promenades as we know from European Mediterranean countries, it’s more likely just a dirty beach with green water. And the promenade? It was a few fast foods and restaurants around a parking area near the sea. Nothing special! It could be nice place for a sunset but it is seen only from one or two restaurants, all of the others has a view to a parking place.
It is always nice to meet friends somewhere in the world where you wouldn’t expect them. I am glad that it also happened to me, even though I am not a stewardess. 😀 My friend and previous colleague from Prague, who moved to Dubai at the same time as I did. She flew to Muscat a day before me with her family. So why not to meet all together at a ‘famous’ promenade in Muscat. I imagined the evening as a nice dinner at the beach with a glass of wine and a good meal. But almost nothing of that happened unless the meal! Anyway we finally found a small restaurant/fast food with a keen staff. Food was delicious! I really enjoyed the evening and I was happy to see my friend again.
Finally the Royal Opera House. It is just next to Qurum Beach, so after a dinner we jumped to a car and it took only 5 minutes till we got there. Opera House is soo nice in the night. When we came there the performance just finished and people was coming out of the House. Since we weren’t in a proper formal dress code, we preferred to wait till the audience left. Opera performance is on every Thursday and Friday. So if you are a fan of Opera, join them! It’s not even so expensive as I would expect. I am not a big fan of Opera, therefore we just took pictures and came back to hotel apartment, where we immediately fell asleep ‘cause it was very busy but beautiful day.
After that we still had 2 more days for exploring…
To be continued.