My fact finding mission for Hallmark Travel was to go to Oman, so I was slightly nervous! I had never visited the Middle East before and really didn’t know what to expect. It was also during ‘Ramadan’ (like our Lent). Rumours were being spread of having no food and drink and being covered from head to foot were adding to my unease!
My adventure started with an 8-hour flight from Heathrow to Muscat, flying with Gulf Air – generous legroom and friendly service. After purchasing a tourist visa for £9, I collected my luggage and gasped at my first breath of the 90oF heat outside and then I was on my way!
Firstly, Musandam, which is the smallest and most northerly region of Oman. We spent the day sailing in a Dhow, a traditional Middle Eastern boat. The scenery is stunning and as we sailed we were accompanied by a couple of dolphins which made the trip really special.
We swam in the clear, warm water and the snorkelling on the coral reefs surrounding the islands was idyllic. Our guide kindly invited us to his home where we were served traditional Omani food which was simply delicious.
Back in Muscat to enjoy a day at my favourite hotel of the whole trip, the magnificent Chedi with modern rooms and private villas, beautifully set in water-gardens, poolside cabanas, turquoise pools and a private stretch of beach.
After a 5-course meal we relaxed under the stars in the Ramadan garden where guests can partake in smoking the traditional Shisha pipes, a must for visitors to Oman!
The next day was quite different – shopping! Muttrah Souq is the oldest market place in the Capital Area. The Souq is like an Arabian Nights Fantasy! A maze of pathways, where the sale of spices, dates, silver and antiques jostle for the limelight. Remember while shopping in a Souq do a good bit of haggling, it’s expected.
My final morning, and time for a dolphin cruise. The boats collect you from the hotels’ beaches so there are no tricky transfers to deal with! After an hour and a half of sailing our disappointment was growing, when suddenly there they were! I have never seen so many dolphins in my life! The sea was literally alive with dolphins swimming and spinning around us, utterly amazing.
Ramadan did not affect my visit at all. Although Muslims fast during the day, visitors can eat in the hotels as normal. After dark the restaurants spring into life and locals venture out for their long awaited dinner. As for covering up, Oman is relatively relaxed compared to other Arab countries, a wrap over my shoulders was enough for visiting religious sites.
My first taste of Oman and the Middle East was truly enchanting and like Scheherazade, I look forward to the next story in my Arabian Adventure! If you do too, then meet me in the gallery!
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No, I'm not a Travel Guru, but I have loved travelling since I was five years old, and more than love travel... I love to share my experiences... and show you our Wonderful World through my eyes!