Sunday, January 6: Al Alam Palace (“Flag Palace”) in Muscat is one of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos‘s six royal residences in Oman, and apparently the most important.
We walk up the long pedestrian boulevard between two arcaded colonnades, and the boys find themselves with the urge to do handstands in front of the palace.
The palace was built in 1972 and is a flashy example of modern Islamic design, with two wings attached to a central cube-like building with a flat roof, supported by blue and gold flared columns.
The palace isn’t open to the public, but it’s fun to come here at different times of year to see the colorful palace with its rotating flower gardens in the foreground. Last time I came here, yellow, red and pink marigolds framed the entry to the palace; this time terraces of lavender, pink, violet and white impatiens are in bloom.
We walk around the grounds where we see a large complex of white government buildings. On a stony hill to the right are the original city walls snaking up the hill, punctuated with three watchtowers glowing in the waning light.
On our way out, we pass by a pretty mosque with colorful stained glass windows.
We head to Mutrah, where we wander along the corniche and then into the alleyways of the souq. None of us are really looking to buy anything, but Mike does buy a small incense burning kit. We just enjoy watching the people and looking at all the enticing things for sale.
After our wanderings, we head to Medinat Sultan Qaboos to The Silk Route for dinner. The Silk Route is a pan-Asian restaurant, and we are surprised when they bring out an iPad menu for each of us. We can scroll through the menu, enlarge the photos of the food, and then add our order to a shopping cart. We are certainly impressed by this nice touch, and we enjoy playing around for quite some time with these fun menus. After we order, the waiter comes by to double-check our order, and then we have a fabulous meal of Shrimp Pad Thai, vegetable noodles, basil cauliflower and sweet & sour vegetables.
After dinner, I sadly have to drive back to Nizwa, while the boys spend the night at Safeer Suites. They plan to go to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque tomorrow, but as I’ve been there already, I won’t go with them. Some of us have to work, after all.