Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Love Oman, and Qatar too!

What an amazing trip my husband, Kelly and I had last week. We enjoyed travel to two areas that are regional travel destinations for Kelly frequently. I have never been to Oman. I am so glad to say I have visited Oman, it was amazing!!

The Sultanate of Oman is a country that is much larger than Kuwait. It too borders the Arabian sea and has a desert landscape, but this is where the similarities end. Oman is beautifully clean, well maintained, has a vast mountain range and very friendly people. We enjoyed a trip in our rental car to a town called Nizwa where there is a quaint town and huge fort. The fort was perfectly located. When you climbed up to the top you could see the look out towers on the far away mountains that must have been used at one point for to protect Nizwa as well. We also enjoyed watching the action at the fish souk (market) in the heart of Nizwa.

These restroom signs at Nizwa show the male and female traditional dress clearly. the men of Oman still wear the Dishdasha, but they wear a Kummar on their head instead of the Kuwaiti head scarf. Traditionally they would also wear a knife called a khanjar on their waist. The Omani men today don't wear the khanjar often, but it is a symbol of their masculinity.

Oman is also a rich area in the gulf for birdwatchers. I enjoyed seeing birds flying again and hearing the enchanting songs. We don't see many birds in Kuwait City. My favorite was the Indian Roller who had a nest in a cavity of the wall of our hotel building. I tried to get the clearest picture I could of him. This photo is proof that I need a lens with much more power. What do you think, Kolbi?

We had the opportunity to drive up "Jebel Akhdar" in Arabic or green mountain. What a breathtaking part of the world. We saw goats roaming the mountains and even a friendly donkey. One of the best parts of the drive was the 30 degree Fahrenheit temperature drop from the bottom to the top of the mountain range. At the top we had the wind blowing in our hair, while enjoying the view. At the bottom we had the air conditioning on full blast because the car thermometer read 45 degrees Celsius. That is about 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Can you say "More water, PLEASE!"

If you ever have an opportunity to travel in Oman, don't miss it! If it ever becomes a post for Kelly we would seriously consider it. Oman, you should be proud of your beautiful country and all the work you have done to preserve your past. Thanks for a great time!

Qatar was great fun as well. Qatar is much smaller country than Oman. They have had a great deal of growth there recently and the city has changed much in the past five years. Doha is the capital city with a beautiful skyline. We enjoyed driving around looking at the large Dhow boats and spending time strolling in Souq Waqif. We ate at amazing Moroccan restaurant. Camel was on the menu, but I chickened out. Good thing I am not moving out of the Arabian peninsula anytime soon. My goal is to eat camel before we leave for our next tour.

Our hotel was Sharq Village and frankly it was just fabulous. We stayed in our own villa there with complimentary fruit, dates, tea and coffee. While Kelly worked I knitted a washcloth, read a great book, took many photos and lounged by the pool. It was a much needed break for me. In Qatar also added to my ever increasing collection of salt and pepper shakers. At the souk I found a set I couldn't live without. A women in a black Abaya and a man in a Dishdasha. What collection would be complete without that to represent life in the Middle East?

Kelly and I have not been away from all of our children this long since the birth of our first child. It was like a second honeymoon! We enjoyed sleeping in, uninterrupted meals and watching the TV shows of our choosing. Thank you Grandma and Granddad Briden for watching the Bunch and for all your love to them while we were away!!!! At this rate we won't need your services again in another ten years, Grace will 18 and she has committed to take care of her siblings while we escape just the two of us. I can't even think that my oldest daughter will turn 18. Have a great weekend~