We have been in Oman for a while now. But let’s go back right to the start, when we first set foot in this exciting country, full of contrast.
Let’s go back to the first – quite hectic – 24 hours.
Friday, 6th of October 2017
Landing at Muscat International Airport after a superb seven hour flight from London to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways, a three hour stop-over at Abu Dhabi airport and a short 40 minutes flight from Abu Dhabi.
Descending the steps of the plane. Our first rendez-vous with the Omani climate. A lovely 26°C welcomes us. And the sight of a wonderful orange circle on the horizon: The sun.
Queuing to pay for our tourist visa. Then getting our passports stamped at the immigration desk. The girls are excited about the first stamp in their passports.
Picking up two of our three checked-in bags from conveyor belt No. 1.
Realising that there are no more bags appearing. We are one bag down!
Forwarding our missing bag problem to the luggage desk. Everybody is very friendly – and they send out a search team immediately.
They report back: No bag had been found. Accepting this fact and filling in the form for lost bags.
Leaving the arrival zone and entering the public zone of the airport. Looking out for our AirBnB host Michael who offered to pick us up at the airport at 07:30. We are too early.
Settling at the arranged pick-up point: Costa Coffee. The tiredness after a night with no sleep (the entertainment system on the plane kept us awake) starts to show.
Michael entering the airport and spotting us. Glad that the pick-up arrangement worked out.
Leaving the air-conditioned airport. First complaints about being hot.
Driving to our AirBnB in Seeb, close to the airport.
Arriving at the AirBnB. Being astonished by the vast size of a “normal” family home here.
Dropping the luggage off in our room before enjoying breakfast with our host family. Happy about seeing homebaked breadrolls on the table.
Going to bed. Even though we swore to hang on until the evening. Everyone is asleep within seconds.
Alarm goes off. Struggling getting out of bed.
Realisation that we need a car in order not to get stuck (a feeling that John and I hate). Not just from Sunday when our booking was made for – no, right now.
Stopping a taxi on the side of the road. Negotiating a price for the drive back to the airport (there are no meters in Omani taxis). Agreeing on a price. Entering the taxi and searching for seat belts. None to be found. Feeling nervous about the chauffeur’s driving style. Praying to be safe.
Relieved about the taxi coming to a halt in front of the airport. Heading to the lost and found desk. Checking if the lost bag has appeared. Not yet.
Heading to the car rental desks. No luck at car rental company No. 1 – they don’t have a car for us. No luck at car rental company No. 2 – they don’t have a car for us, either. Third time lucky: Renting a car from Thrifty.
Driving out of the airport in our rental car. Instantly feeling more liberated. Venturing the streets of Oman that don’t have a very safe reputation. A tense atmosphere on the road is noticeable.
Stopping at a nearby, massive shopping mall. Searching for some of the items that got lost. Mainly clothes for myself. Not really enjoying the shopping experience under the circumstances and pressure to find something to wear.
Feeling hungry. People watching and having a meal in an over-prized Mexican fast-food restaurant.
Buying breakfast and some other provisions in Carrefour. Noticing very quickly that Friday is not the ideal day to go shopping. The supermarket is so crowded. And gets busier by the hour.
Happy to leave the mall. In the dark. A strange feeling because we are linking hot summer weather to long days. In Oman, it’s pitch-black at 6pm.
Back at the accommodation, getting ready for bed as quick as possible.
In bed. Falling asleep immediately. And not waking up until 11am the next morning… to find a nice surprise in front of our bedroom door: The lost bag had been found.