Thursday, January 12: I take the boys to Muscat on Wednesday evening and we go straight to the Carrefour at Qurum City Center to stock up on some camping gear. This despite protests of their hunger and exhaustion. At this point the jet lag is starting to seriously dampen their adventurous spirits. I promise them a good dinner if they’ll put up with the trip to Carrefour, so we head straight for dinner at Kargeen Caffé, a cool outdoor Omani garden restaurant at Medinat Sultan Qaboos. “Kargeen” is an old Omani word for a little wooden cottage, and it definitely has a cottage feel. In the courtyard, beautiful trees with white sparkly lights surround us, creating a Midsummer Night’s Dream-type ambiance. We sit on wooden benches lined with colorful pillows at tables with glass tops. Under the glass are shadow boxes of children’s traditional Omani clothing. Atmospheric to the hilt, this is one of my favorite restaurants in Muscat. This is one place that will make my boys love Muscat.
My boys love to order fancy drinks every time they go to a restaurant, so they order coconut drinks in their shells. I get a lemon soda with mint. Alcoholic beverages are not served here.
For dinner, the guys, who are both vegetarians, order falafel sandwiches and pasta. I order some spinach and chickpea soup. The waiter brings us a “special” bread, sort of like a pizza, stuffed with vegetables and olives. Though the food isn’t stellar, it is tasty. Atmosphere is what we come here for, and there is more than enough of that to go around.
After dinner, we check in to the Safeer Suites at Medinat Sultan Qaboos. I’m surprised we get quite a nice room for 3 people. Most rooms are for two people, so I’m happy to find a place with 3 beds.
In the morning, we eat the buffet breakfast at the hotel, which is quite a spread. At this point, the boys are happy with everything. I can’t help but wonder how long it will take before their enthusiasm wears off.
We head to Mutrah Souq, where we wander the maze-like aisles, with textiles and frankincense stalls on either side of us. All the Indian shopkeepers beckon with their Pashminas, but I can never understand why they pick the ugliest colors to present. Even if I were interested in a pashmina, which I never am because it’s simply too hot in Oman to wear one, I would never choose the colors of the ones they’re trying to sell.
The boys, being vegetarians, are looking especially for a fruit and vegetable market, but I have never seen one at Mutrah Souq. We wander through the corridors and never come upon one. I have never seen fruits and vegetables sold here. They are disappointed, although they love the feel of the souq.
Eventually they are cornered by an enthusiastic salesman who grabs Alex and puts a kumma, the Omani cap, on his head. He then takes a checkered scarf and wraps it around the kumma.
The next thing I know both boys are decked out in dishdashas and kummas, with scarves wrapped around their heads. The shopkeeper then wraps another scarf jauntily around their necks. I snap pictures of my handsome boys. Alex especially looks like an Arab with his beard and long thin face. I love it! They come away buying the kummas and scarves. No dishdashas for them. Both boys buy some white cotton pants that look like pajama bottoms, loose and comfortable. I buy a purple Indian wall hanging, some scarves to add to my already huge collection, and one purple pashmina (yes, I succumb to the pashmina fervor!) to wear with a flowered low-cut silk dress when I next go to the opera.
After the souq, we go to the Oman Dive Center where we sit outdoors on the patio and eat lunch. The boys have mozzarella and tomato sandwiches, while I have a big juicy hamburger. Adam and I have carafes of red wine and Alex has a beer. They love being able to drink in Oman when they would be underage in the USA.
We all enjoy the ambiance of this place, sitting outdoors in a warm breeze, the blue lagoon framed by tropical greenery before us. It’s so pleasant that none of us really want to leave here.
We finally tear ourselves away from the pleasant Dive Center and head down the coast to Wadi Tiwi and Wadi Shab, planning to spend the night in Sur.
So far, the boys love the pleasant atmosphere, the warm weather, and the scenery of the places we’ve experienced in Oman. I know they will really love the great outdoors, the mountains, wadis and seashores, that this country has to offer.