Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentine's Weekend in Oman

We hopped in the car Thursday after school to head to the country of Oman for the weekend. It is about a 4 hour drive to the capital, Muscat. A client of Steve's offered us his yacht and staff for the day.
The kids ready to go....
and Drew (using monkey as a pillow) lasted about 30 minutes before he was out!

Getting to the border...

There are several checkpoints, one of which is getting your car searched by soldiers in purple camo.
We had to stop at the Customs building to get a visit visa and car insurance to drive in Oman. All of the extra stops added about 2 more hours to the trip.

Steve booked us in what was called a "quaint" hotel recommended on Trip Advisor. Now we have stayed in "quaint" in the south of France, "quaint" in Oman means something else entirely. We pulled in about 1130pm and our room was on the 4th floor (and no elevator). I cant even describe the room so just look at the picture. We had a wall unit air conditioner...
and a tv that had VHF/UHF knobs (not kidding).

It was too late to go look for another one so I slept in my clothes (took a xanax :), not a great way to start the weekend. After getting up and showering in the slow trickle (at least it was hot water), we checked out and went on the hunt for another one. All we could do was laugh about it at this point. Oman is a very expensive country and the hotels run one end of the spectrum to the other. It got really comical when we got to the 4th one and Steve came out to say it was fine, but as we were about to unload, a very loud airplane flew kidding it was in the flight path of the airport-of all things!!!

We eventually checked in to the Crowne Plaza on the coastline. It was much nicer (not that it was going to be hard to beat the other ones).
Because of the previous day's sandstorm the water was too choppy on Friday so we spent the day shopping and hanging around the pool. We went to the famous Mutrah souq where silver is cheap, and you can do some serious bargaining.

Drew was insistent on having a local outfit-and boy was he proud of it...and here he is pictured with the goods we bought.
The Sultan of Oman's "small" water craft (yes, the white cruise ship)!!
Back at the hotel, we walked down to the beach area to hunt for shells and found several caves.

The kids enjoying the pool,

while Steve and I sipped on margaritas watching the sun set.
On Saturday (after the kids and Steve woke up to their Valentine chocolates and candy) we were picked up by a driver and taken to the Marina.
The captain, Ramces, showed us around "M\Y Sharifa" (this is just one of five of Mr. Mohammed's boats)....
Sleeps 20...
flat screen in every room with surround sound...
and served us tea on gold plated china!
The kids could not get enough of the jet ski and it was powerful enough to pull a tube (Drew turned that down, but we couldnt get him off the jet ski).
We enjoyed a picnic style lunch of turkey sandwiches, fries, fruit and arabic mezza.
The kids and the very nice crew.
And once again Drew did not last long at the end of the day as we headed back to shore!

Oman has several old forts still standing.

It also has one of largest mosques, Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque, that can hold up to 20,000 worshippers, and it is one of very few open to non-muslims.
And like Dubai, large round-abouts, but beautifully landscaped.
We had a great time in Oman. The people there are extremely friendly. And on my 6mo anniversary of being in Dubai made me realize the special opportunities we have (but I still miss home)!!!


As we were leaving Dubai on our way to Oman for the weekend we had a sand storm. This wasn't our first but I happened to have my camera on me to take some pics.

The highway alert sign...i.e. "stand outside and get free microdermabrasion"

The sand builds up against the median walls of the highway.

The sand is very fine the further out to the desert you get so it just moves eerily across the road.

From the moment she arrived.... was a whirlwind of activity. Mom arrived on January 22, the kids have been counting down for weeks. She got to land in the new terminal and we had someone meet her and get her through VIP service. Get the tissue ready when you watch the video...

Mom did great adjusting to the different time zone and after unloading her suitcases, one of which was full of gifts for all of us, we showed her around. This is a picture of the plaza level where we live. The kids ride their scooters, etc down here. There is no traffic so it is a great place.There is a lot going on at "The Walk" where we live because it is the Dubai Shopping Festival. Every night they have performances, carnivals, art, and shopping sales going on.

First on the kids to do list was to take Grammy to Ski Dubai...we had snow ball fights, and rode the various rides.
Grammy and kids in front of dragon ice sculpture.Jacob on the snow tubing ride.
SNOW BALL FIGHT!!!Grammy and Drew in the ice sled.Mom will probably kill me for posting this pic, but Jacob insisted she go down the tobaggan ride!Toasting Grammy's visit with hot chocolate.

We took mom to Madinat Jumeirah for a Dhow ride and to do some shopping.
I let the kids skip school to go to Wild Wadi, the weather was great!

We went to Global Village which was supposed to be a display of 15 countries and their goods as well as a carnival. As it turned out, each country pretty much had the same stuff and the carnival was very similar to our state fair. The kids forced mom (who does not like heights) to go on the "largest traveling ferris wheel"!!!

The kids rode bumper cars and flying elephants .
Mom picked up a few goodies here and the spices were beautifully displayed.

Mom experienced several different meals of Indian, Asian, Irish, Brazilian, Lebanese, Malaysian and German (I dont think I cooked once while she was here).
Der Keller is our favorite German restaurant and has the best meat and cheese fondue!!

Another restaurant is called the Fish Basket and you pick the fresh seafood out and tell them grilled or fried.
It is served with traditional Lebanese side dishes of humous, tabouleh, and fresh vegetables. We feasted on lobster tail, red snapper and shrimp.

The Chinese Circus was in town and was an excellent show, we chowed on fish and chips and then of course cotton candy!

Probably mom's favorite activity was the Lily Pond day spa and Caribou Coffee shop at the bottom of our building. We went every day if not twice a day to get massages, pedicures, manicures. It is criminally cheap and it is hard to pass up when it is so convenient.

Of course we went to the beach, where I explained to mom it is like any other...until the camels walk by!!!
On her last night, we took her to our favorite restaurant, Beachcombers, with the best view of the Burj al Arab and it's light show. We dined outside eating a Malaysian buffet.
It was hard to see her go, and we will miss her, but we had a great time and cant wait to see her in June!