Sunday, June 9, 2019

Oman - Muscat

So I like to keep things chronological on the blog (everybody has their quirks right?!?), but we actually went to Oman the week before Clarissa's birthday party. Her party had a handful of pictures versus the 2048 pictures and 45 video clips we took in it was easy to knock out. It's taken me a while to get this all together (end of school year craziness as well as preparing for two months away from home kind of took priority over blogging). So with that many photos and so many different areas seen, I'm going to divide our trip into the major areas we visited: Muscat (capital), the mountains, the desert, and the here we go on the Muscat portion of our adventures.

So if you look at any of those thrillist/travel bucket lists....Oman will more than likely be on the least once! So with it a short (1 hr - 1 hr 20 min depending on the airline you take) flight, it was a no brainer that for our first long school break we would go! When researching what all to do we could of easily stayed 2 weeks. Though the flights there are relatively inexpensive, once in Oman everything is a bit pricey. So we ended up going for week (so we were able to get by with a 10 day visa versus a 30 day visa). Also, with the short flight time/multiple flights a day, we didn't get up crazy early and took a nice mid morning flight and arrived around lunchtime.

For our first day, we stayed at Crowne Plaza (using points yeah!) on the coast. We had a lazy afternoon exploring the beach and after dinner we walked to Starbucks to get a mug for our collection!

Of course, I had the opportunity to stick my toes in the Oman Sea! I really like my sister-in-law's idea that I need to make a photo collage of all the seas I've put my toes in. We also found a little hermit crab leaving its footprints in the sand.

We poked around some tiny caves/cracks and crevices looking for critters.

Found this little guy!

We mainly marveled at the beauty. Qatar is quite flat and here there were mountains/boulders/rock formations.

We then hiked back up the cliff the hotel was on and the sunlight made for some great photos.

The next morning was sunny and beautiful. We had a nice breakfast overlooking the city,

the fishing boats ready for high tide,

and the hotel's little beach inlet.

After getting packed back up, we checked out and our driver picked us up to the see other areas of the country (coming soon). We took the four day 'Farah Tour' with Lifetime tours. It was great and if you ever go, ask for Nasser.....we adored our driver! After our four days with Nasser, we were dropped back off at the Sheraton in Oman (using more points!!). The next morning, we were picked up for the 'Snorkel + Dolphin' tour with Lifetime Tours. It was a great opportunity to see the rugged coastline from the water, hopefully see spinner dolphins, and get our snorkels wet again.

Objective One: Check! Spinner dolphins were found.

Lots and lots of spinner dolphins!

In addition, lots and lots of tour boats chasing the dolphins. We quickly discovered this industry is not well regulated and subsequently felt guilty for taking the tour. Every time a group of dolphins surfaced, any nearby boats would go flying over and surround them. We felt bad for the harassment of the dolphins (and if they are like other pods of spinners, they will rest during the day and feed at dawn/dusk...aka harassing them while they are trying to sleep/rest).

Our boat captain was actually a bit less aggressive than some, so we end up with a number of close swim-bys as the dolphins were avoiding other boats!

Clarissa being small, managed a nice lookout spot for dolphin watching.

After about 30-45 minutes of dolphin watching, we headed over to an inlet. We entered and then moved through some rocky formations to a little protected cove. Once we jumped!

While Fiji set the snorkeling bar high, we did see coral, parrotfish, box fish (related to pufferfish), and a huge school of needlefish/long nose gar!

I tried out a feature with the GoPro that was video and photo mode. So it would periodically take photos as I was recording video (best of both worlds). Here's the video of some of the snorkeling we did.

There were a number of boats moored in our little spot....some more party boats than tour

After snorkeling, our captain drove around the Bandar Khayan area we had been snorkeling in. This area is known for its "mountains falling into the sea".

The sea wears away at the mountains leading to stunning fjord formations.

Some of which our captain drove us right under!

Once back at the hotel, we had a fun poolside lunch. That evening, we headed down to the Muttrah Corniche and Souq. The first thing we saw upon arrival was the Sultan's yachts!

Which I mistakenly commented..."oh wow, there are two cruise ships in town!"

We had a chance to see the outside of Mosque of the Great Prophet (non-Muslims are not allowed inside). The beautiful blue minaret and domes are just stunning!

After sunset, not quite as dramatic but you can see both the dome and minaret.

We wandered around the Mutrah Souq a bit. It was quite crowded, salesmen are much more aggressive than those in Doha souqs, and I've never been a hunt for the treasure shopper (places like TJMaxx/Marshalls have never been a So, we didn't get anything...there was a lot of items similar to those found in Qatar and we have started to learn which shops to go to for the best we opted to wait).

Muscat (the country's capital), was just the tip of the iceberg for our trip. One fun fact about Muscat is that all homes must be white! Something about that uniformity makes the city quite stunning. Outside the city, you would see more color variety in the homes. We had a great trip and would love to visit again. Everybody had a different favorite our itinerary was perfect.

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