What we noticed while staying in the Muscat area, was that it’s quite incredible how quickly the human being gets used to its surroundings. From climate to culture, arriving in Oman was a shock to the system. But within only a few days in the country, we started feeling very comfortable here. We made the acquaintance of super-friendly, open-minded locals, admired the sparse beauty of the landscape, found our way around our local supermarket, got our heads around the road system and joined the outdoor life after four pm when the temperatures become more bearable and the place comes to life. The region grew on us more and more – to the point that we felt a little emotional leaving the greater Muscat area after two weeks to head into the mountains.
Some of our highlights:
- Visiting Seeb, a fishing village just outside of Muscat. Strolling on the massive beach that comes to life after four o’ clock in the afternoon: Soccer playing locals and crabs cover the sands. After watching the sun go down, we made our way into town. We were overwhelmed by the amount of illuminated and colourful shops that lined the streets. One clothes shop after another, one furniture shop after another, one household item shop after another… there’s never just one of a kind. We ended up in a Seeb Waves Restaurant right on the corniche and enjoyed some tasty food “en masse”.
- Sunset and star fish spotting on Al Qurm Beach (Muscat). That’s also where the locals show off their brand-new high-spec cars.
- Cooling down in the roof-top pool at Pioneer Hotel.
- Visiting the old, and definitely more quiet, part of Muscat: The Sultan’s Palace, the watchtower from where we tried to spot dolphins (with no luck) and the Mutrah Souk. Lilly felt quite intimidated by all the salesmen trying to convince us to buy a scarf, hat or whatever they had in store. But in the end, she managed to enjoy the Souk experience and along with Sophie haggled the price of a golden (miniature) camel.
- An early morning wander through the Mutrah fish market. Sophie and Lilly were fascinated by all the different kinds of fish, John and I by the weathered faces of the locals.
- Swimming in the turquoise blue water of the Bimmah sinkhole.
- Spotting the first camels walking along the road.
- Discovering green sea turtles in the wild. One could even be seen from our accommodation in Qantab.
- Watching the fishermen in Qurayat heading out at dusk. Wonderful vibe.
- Spending an afternoon on our AirBnB host’s boat, getting the best view of the coves and stopping in a remote bay for a refreshing swim.
- Living in Qantab, a small fishing village between Muscat and the Shangri La Resort, for five days. We stayed in an open-air apartment which was not ideal concerning the high temperatures, but perfect for it location – right on the beach! We chilled, had regular dips in the sea, listened to the sound of the waves and watched the world go by.
- Our dolphin watching boat trip with Suleiman that turned into a coastal sightseeing tour because we could not find the dolphins. Lots of colourful fish and a big turtle came to say hello instead.
- Having dinner at Bait al Luban, a typical Omani restaurant with floor seating. A special treat for John’s birthday.
The learning curve:
- Sitting on the floor to eat is not very comfortable.
- Having your laundry done can get quite expensive when a single sock costs the same as a pair of jeans! With a family of four who has not washed for a while that can add up.
- Don’t expect seat belts in a taxi.
- Omani portions are big.
- There’s never just one shop of a kind. There’s the fruit street, the furniture street, the clothes street…
- Dates grow on palm trees (we were not sure).