Oman, For a Week or a Weekend.....
By Simon Price
From the moment we were picked up at the airport we were impressed with what we saw during our short stay in Oman. Driving through Muscat we noticed that there were no tall skyscrapers, even in the city centre, which conveyed a small-town feel in stark contrast to Doha, where we had just flown in from. Most of the buildings were painted white and these contrasted with the beautiful blue tiled Mosque’s with different coloured domes.Coming from a country with a high point of 103m, immediately the mountains catch your attention. They formed a wonderful backdrop wherever we went during the weekend.
The Al Bustan Hotel, were we stayed, was reminiscent of Mauritius. Large, well-manicured lawns under large palms trees, rimless pool that appeared to flow into the sea, sun loungers, pool bar, lovely white sand and deep blue sea all combining to create a magnificent setting. The main restaurant changed the theme of the menu daily, but always offered up a wide selection of delightful dishes for us to choose from. The range of salads, breads, cheeses, and deserts to compliment the main dishes was outstanding. With my sweet tooth, the chocolate fountain and marsh mellows on kebabs for dunking was the highlight. Judging by the queue so was it everybody else’s.The very gracious concierge planned a sightseeing trip for us up Wadi Al Shaab.
The journey began with a short boat ride across the mouth of the Wadi, followed 10km walk, clamber, swim up the Wadi with steep, silent rock faces towering over you all the way. Finally at the head of the Wadi you swim through a fissure in the rock in luminous green water to reach a magical cave with its own waterfall. It was absolutely incredible and well worth the effort.On the way back we chose to drive down the coastal road so we could gaze out over the lovely expanse of Indian Ocean. En route we stopped off at the Bimmah Sink Hole. It is situated only about 500m inland from the coast. The opening is about 40 – 50m wide and about 20m deep, with vibrant turquoise water. We also took a short detour to visit Wadi Daygah Dam and enjoy a short break and the views from the lookout point on top of the dam wall. The following day we spent lazing on the sun-loungers, relaxing and soaking up the sun. We walked on the beach, swam a little, both in the sea and in the pool, tried our hand at a bit of sailing, sampled the cocktails and snacks on offer, and finally rounded off a lazy day, with a lovely candlelit seafood dinner at the restaurant on the beach. Other activities on offer but which we did not have time enough to enjoy were: Snorkeling, dolphin spotting trip, sunset cruise on a Dhow, guided day trip through the city including the Grand Mosque, the Corniche, Portuguese Forts and the Old Town.
All too soon the weekend was over and we found ourselves on the way back to the airport. We made ourselves a promise that we just had to return and spend more time exploring the delights of Oman.