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Thursday, 3 January 2013

I'm Back!!!

My first post of 2013! Happy NewYear everyone! For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter and didn't see my message you must have wondered why I dropped of the face of the earth after my first post the day I arrived in Oman... Unfortunately the wifi in the hotel was crap (although they of course insisted it was fine...). It disappeared on the second day and the internet connection on their PCs was really bad too so I couldn't upload at all I was there unfortunately so instead I will do a retro-spective mega-post now and include everything here. I'll also start uploading all the vlogs I took while I was there on my YouTube channel soon so make sure to go and subscribe to that! 



There are a lot of food photos here haha, I like to photograph food! I don't know why... If you want to see more of my time in Oman and less food check out the vlogs when they're up. 

The hotel breakfast was very good. Continental and also the Oman version of Cooked breakfast.
Yum! I was really glad when I realised I could still make a good old English breakfast out of what was at the buffet.

And even happier when I realised they had a man making fresh waffles to order!!! Super yum!!!
Oman is a fishing town so they had lots of nice boats to look at and naturally fish makes up a lot of the cuisine there
The town of Muscat is very sandy/rocky naturally like desert land but it's rapidly being developed into a bustling city
The beaches were all very busy and eerily quite, perhaps because it's a Muslim country people don't wish to sunbathe so much...
There was a really great Japanese restaurant in our hotel that served delicious and really fresh food. A little too fresh almost as they had ran out the mornings catch of sushi everyday before we arrived :( but this platter was still delicious nonetheless!
I tried miso soup and ramen noodles which is really delicious!
This is the palace of the Sultan on Oman. All of the locals sang his praises and said he did well to give the area good schooling and healthcare etc so long live the Sultan!
The grounds around the palace were stunning, incredibly clean with beautifully kept gardens and pavements that were literally shiny!
The architecture in Oman is brilliant, very grand and pretty and all of the plants look so perfect and artificial.

This is another smaller beach that was once again almost empty. If I lived in Oman I'd be here everyday! The weather is   very hot there, best to visit in the winter I'd say as even the locals admit that in the summer it's too hot to go outside reaching over 100 degrees. While we were there it was between 25 to 30 degrees celsius, perfect!
My favourite lunch dish I had everyday at the hotel, pasta carbonara with beef bacon (they don't serve pork in Oman). It doesn't look too good but it tasted great!
Some poolside reading. I wore light but full-length clothes by the pool to be respectful of the Muslim staff and I was glad I did because there were soooo many flies about this day - gross!! I loved this book btw! I'll film a review of this book on my YouTube channel soon! 
On the last day we asked the taxi driver to take us to a traditional Oman restaurant and this is what we ate. It was by far my favourite meal of the trip. I had shark (yes shark!) curry -fyi I don't recommend it lol, it has a rough texture and tasted too salty but it was fun to try it!. 
My dad made the better choice or grilled lobster, I tried some and can confirm that it was delicious! 
Me and my dad ❤ The restaurant was made up of private little rooms with the decor of an Oman living room and you eat barefoot on cushions on the floor, it was a really great experience.
On the last day I had chinese in the mall and it was actually really tasty!
On the flight back we were unexpectedly upgraded to business class!! I've never flown business class before so it was a really cool experience for me and it definitely made up for the 7 1/2 hour layover we had suffered!!
Me showing off how much room I had. You can literally lay the seat flat 180 degree like a bed. I watched lots of The Big Band Theory and Cougar town and slept like a baby which was great as I don't like flying so it was a good distraction.
Only a small B/W photo of me on New Years as I didn't really like my makeup and hair and didn't take many photos... It was a great night though, my friends, boyfriend and I went to a 007 themed party in a nice venue with free drinks - hehe!
If you missed my post from the first day I landed in Oman you can read it/see photos here! Overall it was a great trip. If you go to Muscat I recommend staying at the Alfalaj Hotel. Despite my wifi issues as they were friendly and the amenities were great.

My Guide to holidaying in Muscat, Oman!

Flight: The flight from Heathrow to about 10 hours overall although we had a layover in Doha- the second of which was 7 1/2 hours stuck in the airport! So make sure if you book online you check all of the flight details thoroughly before you confirm anything! Also remember if you have a layover you'll need some currency for that country if you want to buy a coffee or food in the airport! We also had to buy a visa at the airport in Oman when we arrived which cost about £8 each.

Accommodation: Despite the wifi issues I had which were a small obstacle really I definitely recommend the Alfalaj Hotel in Muscat. It has great amenities (nice pools, bars, tennis courts, hairdresser, spa etc.) and the staff were very helpful and spoke great English. It was very well kept, the food was great including 24hr room service and a Japanese restaurant in the hotel and it was about 20min drive to the nearest shopping mall/beach so not too far.

Food: The food in Oman is a cross between Indian and Greek I found with dishes such as curries with greek cucumber salad and humus as sides. Muscat is a fishing town so they serve a lot of fish curries but there were also lot of American chains eateries around such as KFC, McDonalds and TGI fridays so everyone will find something that they like. The traditional restaurant we ate at was called Bin Ateeq and the people there were very friendly, the food was delicious and the prices very reasonable.

Money: We didn't find any super costly things to do in Oman so you really only need to account for the usuals: food, drink, cabs/transfers and any shopping you may wish to do. Some of the beaches were private meaning you have to pay to access them. We didn't visit any of these so I couldn't tell you the price but in my experience on other holidays it's £5-20 GBP each.

Shopping: I compared a few prices of stores such as M&S and Victoria's Secret in the UK and Oman and found the prices in Oman to be about 20% dearer. The exchange rate is around £1 to 0.6 OMR (Omani Rial) so it's not really in British favour to begin with therefore I wouldn't recommend doing much shopping unless you see any sale bargains which can be found.

If you really want to do some shopping I recommend saving your money for the American stores you'll find in Oman that you can't find in the UK such as Forever 21 and Bath and Body Works!

Sightseeing: We didn't hear about many monuments to visit but a few places that will provide good holiday photos are: The Great Mosque (you have to be dressed very specifically to go here in traditional muslim attire but many taxi drivers will happily go in and take some photos for you in you offer them a tip!). The Sultan's palace (see above) is also a really nice building with some pretty grounds worth checking out. We also heard of some Hot Springs up in the mountain which sounds like they're worth a visit if you have the time. Many taxi drivers in Oman speak good English and it's worth chatting to them as many will offer to take you on a tour of the city for a few hours and show you all the exciting places for around 8-12 OMR p/h (about £12-18)

Culture: Oman is a muslim country and therefore it is polite to respect this. It is recommended (but not strictly enforced) that tourists avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothing choosing instead to opt for outfits which cover their shoulders and legs with loose fitting materials to avoid becoming too hot. This doesn't have to be as uncomfortable as it sounds and I quickly got the hang of dressing appropriately. (See my vlog videos to see what I wore while I was there....)

Overall I had a really great time and would definitely recommend visiting Oman if your looking for a quiet, sunny break with some exciting new culture to experience.
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