Rugged Mountains Surrounding a Jewel ~ Muscat, Oman

According to our onboard Exploration Guide:

 Muscat has been an important trading area going back thousands of years because of its position on the Arabian Sea (close to the Straits of Hormuz). Persians invaded long before the area became Islamic in the seventh century. The Portuguese ruled for over a century, until the Al Bu Sa’id dynasty seized control in the eighteenth century, and they have ruled ever since. In the past 50 years, Oman has remained a stable economy based on trade and petroleum. Since the current Sultan Qaboos bin Said took over in 1970, tourism has flourished. Muscat’s position on the water surrounded by mountains is dramatically beautiful.

We agree. Of all the cities in the middle east that we have visited on this trip (Jerusalem, Haifa, Cairo, Sharm el Sheikh, Safaga, Aqaba, Salalah, Abu Dhabi,and Dubai), Muscat is by far the most distinctive and beautiful. It is a jewel.

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In the harbor, on our way to the souk, we saw the Sultan of Oman’s private yacht. It would have been a treat to see the inside, but we didn’t have an invitation awaiting us. Maybe next time.

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The souks are fascinating places, almost like rabbit holes with so many twists and turns, branches and arteries that you can get lost very easily. But there are always interesting people to see as well as the fun of haggling with the shopkeepers over prices of goods. We did not buy any thing that day, but had fun taking pictures and talking to the locals.

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 We rode the Hop-On-Hop-Off Big Bus to see more sights of Muscat. We stopped at Al Qurm National Park, a lovely area designed for children, families, picnickers, and flower lovers. We basically had the park to ourselves, as only the maintenance staff was present, busily keeping all the beds and lawns in pristine shape. We did meet two young families who gave us permission to take photographs. There was also a Heritage Village within the park, which displayed a typical old fortress. There were also signs throughout the park encouraging us all to exercise freely.

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Back on the bus, we drove through the city admiring many of the buildings that can be no higher than 8 stories and may only be painted white or cream.

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 Royal Opera House

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Al Bustan Palace Hotel ~ Beautiful 7 Star Hotel outside Muscat ~ It is said that entering the lobby is like stepping into another world. 

Our last stop was Al Alam Palace, which is one of the Sultan’s palaces. The Sultan is currently out of the country, in Germany, but several of the outer buildings were bustling with activity and staff. The Palace is not open to visitors, but the outside views were commanding.

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It was time to meet our friend who lives in Muscat, as she was able to leave work after her late afternoon meetings. She showed us some of the non-tourist areas of the city, and then drove us over to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. We arrived before evening prayer, so we were able to walk around the exterior of the building. Truly, it is magnificent! We only had one camera between us, so we did not get as many pictures as we would have liked, but we hope you can get the flavor of the Mosque from the few we did get before it was closed to non-Muslims.

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 We then followed up with a sumptuous Arabian dinner at a local restaurant named Kargeen (www.kargeen.com). We all had something different, and Carolyn was adventurous and got outside her comfort zone, to taste the local foods and spices. She was not disappointed. The big surprise was the wonderful drink that our friend introduced to us, called Lemon Mint. It is very common in the Arab countries, and tastes fantastic, especially if you have been out in the hundred-degree heat all day. We do not know the proportions, but the drink is made with fresh squeezed lemon juice, crushed ice, and a blender full of fresh mint so it’s very green in color. It comes to you in a very tall glass and is wonderfully delicious.  Cheers to All!

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4 Responses to “Rugged Mountains Surrounding a Jewel ~ Muscat, Oman”

  1. WELL, my dears … what exclamation to use about this series of photos !!!!~ Simply elegant, and, as you say, so attractive and appealing. I specially enjoyed the pictures of the people, despite the majesty and elegance of the buildings !!! I now know where to go if I have a choice of one small spot.

    Don’t know how else to say it, but hearty thanks for sharing your wondrous adventure ! I am gaining so much from your trip, Sh

  2. Thank you for this post, Ladies! Feel like I’ve been there! Beautiful!

  3. The Lemon Mint drink sounds amazing!!!! Beautiful pictures:)

  4. What a beautiful place…..

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