We decided to go to Oman as it was the nearest country we hadn’t been to to Switzerland where it would be relatively warm during the winter in order to get our PADI Advanced Open Water certification before our upcoming trip to Palau which is known for deep dives.
Muscat itself was a beautiful city. As you drive along the streets along the coast, you are sandwiched between the desert and mountains on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other.
Our first stop for the day was to the famous Mutrah Souq which reminded me of Tunis. There weren’t many people there and we chatted with some of the shopkeepers. We had a nice walk along the Corniche and it was great to smell the salt of the sea in the air.
Three days of diving aside, we used the time based in Muscat to treat ourselves to some fine dining and went to The Chedi for meals on 3 separate occasions. We overheard people talking saying that there was a prince there on one of the nights we were at the hotel.
It was such a beautiful hotel but the very expensive piece of steak with marble score 9 that cost us 120usd each was unfortunately nowhere as good as the real Japanese wagyu. Unfortunately, we made that mistake again a few months later in Doha. The picture below is one of the many pools at this incredible hotel.
With diving out of the way, we spent our next couple of days in Oman to explore the countryside. Our goal for the day was to get to Jebel Shams, the highest mountain in Oman, 240km outside Muscat. We made a stop in Nizwa for lunch and to see the famous fort. The views of the city and the desert from the tower were beautiful.
Lunch itself was interesting as we were sent to our own little “room” and had a large plate of delicious Afghani rice and lamb dish.
We continued driving and made another quick detour to see the famous Misfat al-Abriyyin, a town nestled in the mountains. Unfortunately it wasn’t very well signed as we drove up the hills and decided to give up as we were certainly lost. I however told Peter to make a quick stop and to enjoy the view since we were already quite high up. Luck was on our side as suddenly 4 Range Rovers drove past us at quick speed and I knew they must be tourists heading for the same place. We got back into the car and sped quickly to follow them. True enough, we stopped at the top of another hill across where Misfat al-Abriyyin was and were rewarded with a beautiful view of this mystical city.
We then made our way back towards Jebel Shams Resort. The drive up was quite a nightmare and it took forever to arrive. There were locals on the roadside the entire way honking at us offering their services to drive us up in their 4 by 4s and many went with them. We didn’t. Peter did a brilliant job driving mostly at no more than 20km per hour on the dirt road up the mountain. The views were spectacular when we arrived at the top.
The temperature dropped to below zero that night and the buffet dinner was very cold which made it not appetising. The room we stayed in was not well heated and we couldn’t wait for morning for the sun to be out once more. The temperature rose very quickly. We headed back down and made our way to Jabreen Castle where the temperature was already 30 C by then. Jabreen Castle was very special. It had many beautiful rooms and intricate Islamic calligraphy and designs throughout the castle. Oman was a great trip all in all.