Monday, April 27, 2015

The View

After all of the excitement of Nizwa, it was time to head up into the mountains for a bit of relaxation. Our PR & Media company, m media, had recently completed some work for a newly refurbished hotel nestled in the mountains of Jebel Shams.

After a 45 minute drive from Nizwa, we went off road on an 8km winding track from Al Hamra to Hail Al Shas. At 1400m above sea level sits The View Oman, which describes itself as Oman's first of its kind "eco-luxe" retreat with 30 pod style accommodation.

Whilst we were enjoying breakfast, we were treated to a different kind of view. One lady in one of the rooms above the restaurant seemed to be so taken by the beautiful vistas that she forgot to close the curtains as she was getting dressed. Either that or she was re-enacting the scene from the Life of Brian.

The views from the hotel's infinity pool was stunning, but the manager's claim that the pool was heated was debatable. Getting in, gave a whole new meaning to "breathtaking". 

The village of Al Hamra by night

Beautiful sunrise

Return of the parents: Nizwa

Another weekend with the parents and another opportunity to get out and explore. This time we ventured to Nizwa, the former capital of Oman. 

You can't say that you've seen Nizwa unless you've been on a Friday morning and seen the goat market. We left Muscat at the crack of dawn, to drive the 2 hours to Nizwa to make sure that we were there in time to get the full experience.

Just inside the walled area of the souq, was a large ring where local Omanis dressed in their dishdashas, paraded their goats in front of prospective buyers.

In my opinion the biggest winner of the day was the guy selling the rope to take your purchase home. 

After a wander around all the various other parts of the souq, we headed into another fort. Much more popular than the previous week's, but not quite as impressive.

Return of the parents: Nakhal Hot Springs

In January, my parents came out for their second visit. As we'd visited most of the key attractions around Muscat the last time they were here, we decided to explore a bit further afield.

We decided to visit the fort and hot springs of Nakhal, which are about an hour's drive from Muscat. The fort itself was pretty easy to find, but the hot springs were slightly more elusive. Although commonly called Nakhal hot springs, they are also known as Al Thawarah springs, which we only found out later. Al Thawrah derives from the Arabic word to "boil", but fortunately the waters weren't boiling.

Whilst the water in the stream itself was pleasantly warm, there was a concrete bath with a small waterfall. Mum was brave enough to tackle the slippery rocks, whilst Dad stuck to the edge.

After enjoying the lush scenery and the free pedicure from the small fish in the stream, nibbling at our feet, we headed back down the road to the fort. 

Oman has many forts, but Nakhal fort has to be one of the most impressive. It's not clear when the fort was built, but it is believed to be more than 1,500 years ago.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas in Oman

So Christmas in 25 degree sunshine....

Due to the high number of trips to the UK over the last 12 months we decided to spend Christmas in Muscat. This all sounds relatively straight forward until you start planning a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Luckily one of our dinner guests had their brother coming to visit from home and so a large ham was ordered to ensure we maintained a level of normality. Turkey, veg and cranberries all sorted and the only thing left to do was get in the kitchen and get it sorted. 

Christmas morning was a strange experience as when we got up and looked out, not only was it still warm, but everyone was at work and going about their day as normal. Takes a while to remember we live in a Muslim country. Late morning and our guests had arrived. Off to the marina for a couple hours wake boarding, knee boarding, surfing and trying to get towed on an inflatable pink chair. Santa did a fine job as the pictures show. 

Don't spill the hot toddy

Enjoying the first course in the garden

Our Christmas entertainment. One of the girls managed to recite the whole 'Twas the night before Christmas' poem from memory whilst her sister did an amazing rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

And then main course, led to dessert, which led to a late night. Really good fun and was great spending it was some good friends. Not quite the same as home though...