Thursday, February 2: I rouse Alex & Adam this morning, despite their protests that they want to stay in bed. After all, they had a late night dancing and partying at the Intercontinental. Downstairs at the Safeer Suites’ fabulous breakfast buffet, we indulge in fruit, hummus and other vegetarian treats. Of course I eat an omelet and other stuff because I’m not a vegetarian. I always love the breakfast at this hotel because it has a nice narrow room with windows all along one side and a big breakfast buffet spread.
After breakfast, they both want to go back to sleep. We don’t have any checkout time since we’re staying here again tonight, I leave them to their dreams. I am ready to go out, so I decide to find a place for a pedicure. I end up purely by chance at the Bamboo Spa, at Medinat Sultan Qaboos. Here I am treated like royalty, with an Oriental Massage and a soothing pedicure. I figure the boys will be asleep for a while, so I take my time and enjoy the special treatment.
When I finish my massage and pedicure, I return to the hotel to find they are still asleep!! I finally get them up and then after they shower and putz around for what seems like an eternity, we head out for a lovely lunch at Kargeen. We have a big lunch buffet with fresh bread, which the boys love!! Sitting outdoors on Kargeen’s patio at mid-day is pretty hot and miserable though, and the flies are troublesome. Not so nice an experience as our dinner here our first weekend in Muscat.
After lunch, Alex wants to go back to Mutrah Souq to buy a khanjar for a friend of his back in the USA. On the way, we make a stop at the Muscat Gate Museum. The museum itself is closed, but we stop and walk across the gate and wander about taking pictures.
We go to Mutrah Souq, where Alex buys a khanjar for his friend, and then we go back to Medinat Sultan Qaboos, where we eat a lovely dinner at Silk Route, a Thai and Chinese restaurant. It seems we are determined to spend a lot of money this weekend trying out various restaurants in Muscat!
At the fabulous Silk Route, we have a delicious dinner of Vegetable Pot Sticker Dumplings, Paw Pia Pak (Vegetable spring rolls), Pad Thai and other delectable vegetable Thai dishes. After dinner, we go back to our room, where Alex and I settle in for the night. Adam has made other plans to go back to the Intercontinental with Christian and his friends. He has had a taste of the bar scene, and now I guess he’s hooked!!
Friday, February 3: Sadly, today is the boys’ last day in Oman. I’m so sad to see them go, but I know they have been getting homesick and they’re anxious now to be on their way. We have a whole long day ahead of us, though, as their plane doesn’t leave tonight until 10:45 p.m. We originally thought we might want to go snorkeling today, but we don’t feel like getting up at the crack of dawn to do so. So we sleep in, eat another leisurely breakfast at the Safeer Suites, and then do a little shopping in various spots in Muscat.
We decide we’d like to spend our last afternoon just as we spent our first afternoon in Muscat, eating lunch at the Odyssey Restaurant at the Oman Dive Center. We sit outdoors on their patio overlooking a little cove; we can see lots of tourists sunbathing on the beach. We arrived a little too early to order a glass of wine or a beer as they have some ridiculous rule about not serving alcohol until 3:00 on a Friday.
So we eat our lunch, trying to linger through the afternoon, which stretches before us like a long highway to an unseen horizon. After we’ve stayed as long as we can at the restaurant, we move to the little sandy beach bar, where we wait patiently for the 3:00 moment when we can order some wine/beer and some shisha (they don’t serve either until 3:00). At this point we finally have a glass of wine and the boys smoke some shisha. They seem to love this experience of smoking while looking out over the beach and listening to the funky tunes.
Finally, we decide it’s time to go as we’ve made a decision to see a movie at City Cinema Shatti to kill some time. We go to the receptionist at the Oman Dive Center with our restaurant bill to get our three parking tickets stamped for free parking. (Now I’m a little baffled why each one of us has a parking ticket as we only have ONE CAR! So why should we have 3 parking tickets??)
When we came here three weeks ago, we had a bill for 26 rials and the nice receptionist, a non-Omani, stamped our 3 parking tickets without batting an eye. We got free parking because we ate at the restaurant, which is only fair. This time, we handed over our lunch bill of 20 rials, and the witch of a receptionist (you know the type: one of those smug women on some weird power trip) told us that we needed to pay her 8 rials for parking!! I said, WHAT? She says, “That’s our policy. You must order 15 rials of food PER PERSON. Since you only ordered 20 rials of food, you must pay 4 rials each for the other two people for parking.” She looks at me with a self-satisfied, snotty look on her face. I am flabbergasted, although I don’t know why I’m so shocked as I read about this ridiculous policy in Andy of Oman’s blog “Odyssey” at Oman Dive Center. Never Again! When I originally read his post on November 28, 2011 I was shocked about this policy, and when I went to the Odyssey with Guido in early December, we didn’t have this problem. We didn’t spend 30 rials between us, and they happily stamped our two parking tickets. In addition, when the boys and I came here three weeks ago, we spent only 26 rials, not 45, yet we still got all three of our parking tickets stamped.
So I protest and say that three weeks ago I was here and only spent 26 rials and we got all three parking tickets stamped without any problem. The receptionist doesn’t budge, just glares down her nose at us. She is a total WITCH about the entire situation. I want to smack that smug look off her face and just walk out of there without giving her a cent. I always wish I could think of snappy comebacks at the time of these kinds of altercations, but I never can! I say, “Andy in Oman wrote about this ridiculous situation in his blog!” (I guess I figure Andy is famous in Oman, which he probably is!) I continue, “I have a blog too, and I’m going to write about this ridiculous policy!” She is unfazed. Later I wished I had pulled out my camera and started taking pictures of her. But of course I didn’t think about it. Because I would love to post her picture along with my rant about her rude & arrogant behavior and this rip-off of a place!!
First of all, I’m a little baffled about how we would spend 15 rials A PERSON for a lunch where it’s not even possible to purchase any alcohol. Fifteen Omani Rials totals nearly $38 and the requirement of spending 15 rials each, a total of 45 rials, is equal to spending about $116!! This for a lunch of sandwiches and salads for 3 people with no alcohol included??? How could this even happen? And the parking fee of 4 rials A PERSON, almost $31 (!!) to park for a couple of hours with ONE CAR in a parking lot that isn’t even remotely full ~ well, I just have to say the whole thing is highway robbery!! I highly recommend that NO ONE EVER set foot in this rip-off joint again!! I intend to stay far away from this place and follow Andy’s advice to try the Blue Marlin Restaurant at Marina Bandar.
So the boys and I leave this place feeling like we’ve been had. I don’t know why a place that should be trying to attract tourists treats people so badly. GREED is the only culprit I can think of. The whole experience leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
We try to shake it off and head to City Cinema Shatti, where we kill time drinking fruit juice at a nearby local cafe and then go in to watch a pretty goofy movie, One for the Money. This is the only movie we can all agree on that fits our allocated time slot. It’s pretty ridiculous overall, but it keeps us mildly entertained for nearly two hours.
Following the movie, we head to Muscat City Center because I want to get a fake plant from the Home Centre. We end up grabbing a quick bite at the food court, and then we head to the airport. There, I stand in line with the boys while they check their luggage. I hug and kiss them goodbye and smile at them one last time. I won’t see them again, except online, until I return home to Virginia this summer. Adieu, my darling boys…