I’ve been telling myself for weeks that I need to catch up on my blog. With eight hours at sea today there was no excuse. So I’m going to work my way backwards. The first six weeks of school was a little challenging. Not only getting back in the swing of teaching, but my Tuesday and Wednesday class has some girls with peculiar behavior. Like the type of behavior that disrupts the learning process for other students in the class. It took me some time to put some strategies in place so I could actually teach. Anyway, Tuesday and Wednesday evening usually evolves wine or gin. So one Wednesday I came home and thought….. Traveling makes me happy, so where can I go for a weekend getaway? The girls must have worn me out that day.
Dubai would have been my first choice, but due to the blockade you can not fly there directly. Kuwait and Bahrain are pretty close, but that did peek my interest. So, I settled on Muscat, Oman. I selected the weekend of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the Middle East and I thought this would make me feel a little better being away instead of trying to celebrate in Qatar.
The day finally arrived. After work I went home, gathered my luggage and headed to Hamad International Airport. I checked into my flight with Qatar Airways and waited patiently to board. By the way, Qatar Airways is the best airline I’ve ever been on. If you consider traveling to the Middle East, book with American Airlines and you will most likely transfer to one of their planes. They make sure you’re not hungry or thirsty (free flowing wine/liquor in economy).
I purchased my visa online for about $12 USD and it was available within minutes. This facilitates a quick process at immigration. After exiting the airport, there were plenty of cabs available. I caught my cab to the Grand Millennium Hotel which was about 15 minutes away. The cost was about 20 OMR. That’s $50 USD. Now, before leaving I checked out Budget Rental Car. I could have rented a car for the weekend for $75 USD with my discount. Let’s just say lesson learned. The exchange rate is insane. The prices in Qatar seem comparable to the US, so I was shocked.
(view from hotel)
Anyway, so I get checked in to my room. Not the best view, but incredible bathroom with a garden tub. I live for a good tub. The bed was just right and lots of snacks and drinks available in the room. Unlike most trips, I didn’t do a lot of planning. I said I would figure it out when I get there. One of my favorite things to do is the hop on hop off bus tours. It was insanely expensive and crowded. They only have one loop with about 10 stops. I got off at one.
They had a stop at the beach which was close to the resorts and restaurants. I spent my day walking the beach and ate traditional Turkish cuisine for lunch. I got back on the bus a few hours later and completed the tour. I walked around the souq, but they were just too aggressive. I returned to the hotel and soaked up the rest of the day at the pool.
I had read and heard pretty good things about The Cave which is a club/restaurant complex in this structure that looks like The Flintstones home. I went here for dinner. I had Mexican cuisine and it was good to be in the Middle East. I also had several dirty Martini’s with gin and some excellent shisha. The music and ambience was pleasing. My final day, I slept in and had a late brunch. The Grand Millennium Hotel is connected to the mall, so I walked around for a little while. I went back to the hotel and picked up my luggage and headed to the airport.
Let’s chat about the overly friendly taxi driver. As a solo, female traveler I always take precautions and try to use taxi companies, Uber, Lyft or Beat. As we are driving he is asking me about my trip and pointing out things along the way. Then he says, “Are you my friend here?” Excuse me was my response. He repeats the question as if I didn’t hear him. I never really answered, just looked at him with an awkward smile. Then I picked up the phone and talked to my “husband” all the way to the airport.
I will probably never visit Oman again although I’ve heard wonderful things about Salalah, the sink holes for swimming and hiking available in the region. Additionally, Friday is the holy day so it feels like things were really slow. All in all, it was an opportunity to go somewhere I had never been and that can’t be taken away from you.