Muscat

Oman, the Gem of the Persian Gulf

Oman a country of breathtaking natural beauty, spectacular landscapes and cultural traditions that remain remarkably undiluted. I wanted to spend the winter holidays somewhere warm, close to Bahrain but very different and everyone seemed to recommend Oman. Now I know why!

We decided to go for a one-week holiday, and I think it was enough to cover a lot of places. Our journey took us from Muscat all they way to Sur, stopping by Wadi Shab and Tiwi. This Blog post will only cover Muscat, but there will be a next one following that will cover the rest of the trip. 

 

We stayed at the Tulip inn, an average hotel for a reasonable price. In general hotels in Muscat are quite expensive comparing to the quality that is offered.                                   

On our first day we visited Mohammed Al Ameen mosque, a magnificent mosque located on top of the hill. The mosque is entirely white and the architecture is stunning, a must visit I would say.

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Then we continued to the Sultan’s Palace, also known as the Alam Palace, located in the heart of the old Muscat. The palace is Oman’s most flamboyant example of contemporary Islamic design. The courtyard surrounding it mostly impressed me.  

Our last stop was Souq Mutrah, which is considered one of the oldest markets in Oman dating back about 200 years. There are some good antique shops, textile shops, gold shops and bargaining is expected!

On the second day, we went to the Grand Mosque, which is open for tourists only from 08:00 to 11:00 am except Fridays. Also known as Sultan Qaboos mosque, it is a stunning “edifice of Art”. This beautiful mosque was started in 1995 and finished 6 years later. A visit to Muscat would not be complete without seeing it.

Muscat is so close to the sea, so after our mosque visit we asked the taxi driver to take us to the beach. He suggested Qurum beach. It’s a wide beach, not very crowded, and clean. It has a good selection of cafés and restaurants close by. It’s a beautiful place to walk and distress, bathe, or simply grab a cup of coffee by the water. The good thing is that it’s located close to the city center.

We ended the night visiting the Opera house another gorgeous architectural masterpiece. It hosts some of the biggest cultural events in Oman, and all the information can be found on their website (http://www.rohmuscat.org.om). We ate at the Indus, located in the Opera house and serving fine indian cuisine. Highly recommended! 

Tips

1) One of the important things to take into consideration is that good restaurants and food is very hard to find. I would recommend making your research in advance.

Here are some very nice restaurants that we tried in Muscat and I can highly recommend.  

- Ubhar $$

- Raouche (Lebanese) $$$

- The Indus (fine dining indian cuisine) $$$

2) Instead of taxing a taxi to go everywhere (which will end up to be very expensive), either hire a car or hire a taxi driver for an entire day. We hired a taxi driver for a full day and it was around 15OMR. For recommendations please contact Ill and me send you the contact of the taxi driver that we used. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rome

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do" and so we did... 

After spending 5 days in Rome, I don’t even know how to start in order to cover all the things that I have seen, places that I have been to and delicious restaurants that I have tried. If I only make one blog post about Rome, I think it will be too messy and too long. So the best way to start is to start with the best part, the food in Rome! 

Roman cuisine is know to be very simple yet very delicious, combining different ingredients for every taste. When you think Rome, you associate it with great restaurants and delicious food everywhere. Unfortunately this is not the case, because many restaurants are very touristy offering poor quality food that has nothing to do with the real Roman cuisine. Before heading there, I made a research about different type of places, that can only be found if you know their name because many of them are not located on the main streets or in an obvious location. 

1.    Margutta RistorArte

A vegetarian restaurant that offers both brunch and dinner. If you are looking for a healthy option with an Italian twist this is definitely the place to go to. We were there for dinner, and it was very fresh ingredients and light portions. You must try the papaya/avocado salad, it is a very nice mix. Note. This is a vegetarian/ healthy place, but also great for non-vegeterians. 

 

2.    Coromandel

If you are looking for a different type of brunch, something else then cornetto and espresso then coromandel is a great option. It offers pancakes, yogurt, and different type of eggs, a non italian breakfast/brunch. It is a very cosy place. Note. Check the opening hours and days, we went there a monday and it was closed. 

3.    Tree Bar

The perfect place for aperitivo! Hidden in the middle of green surroundings, this is the place where all Romans go to mingle and have aperitivo or dinner. You will not encounter any tourist. Beside the food, the best thing about this place is the vibe. If you want to try something local and great, then tree bar is a must visit. 

  4.    Caffe Settimiano

Combine your botanical garden visit with this very cute café. It’s very close to the botanical garden and is a small decent place.  The prices are good; the food is simple but very delicious. Don’t expect a big café with many options, but more a cute local place. 

5.    Fior di Luna

Italy is known for the gelato, but unfortunately many of the ice cream shops sell gelato that is not made of natural ingredients and is filled with color additives. Fior di Luna is one of the gelato places that offers natural ice cream and is an absolute must try! Once you try it you will never go back to “fake” ice cream. If you are 

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6.    Gusto

If you are shopping or wandering around Via del Corso, then drop by Gusto for some nice Italian lunch. Its the perfect Italian restaurant with a excellent menu! A great place to enjoy your meal at the terrace, while contemplating the Italian vibe and atmosphere around. Very central!