by LUCIANA TERRONI
Memories are quite the perfect gift, so what better way to celebrate my birthday than with a road trip to Oman. The e-visa was a few clicks away. We mapped out our driving route and in no time the hotels were booked. The next morning, after a mandatory coffee, we started our drive from Dubai.
Our first stop was Nizwa. This historic town used to be the capital of Oman and a hub for trade, education and arts. We decided to stay the night at the Antique Inn, a hotel that is built on the ruins of several mud houses. The owner warmly welcomed us with Omani coffee and dates from the region. He told us more about the history of the place and explained that not only does the hotel offer an authentic experience, but also preserves their ancient way of life.
We watched the sunset from the hotel’s rooftop terrace; it was a perfect place to admire the beauty of the old city intertwined with countless palm trees.
Just a few steps away was the Nizwa Souq, there we found plenty of souvenirs and enjoyed talking to the locals who were so curious as to where we came from. They recommended a nearby restaurant called Al Aqr and told us to have the mixed grill platter. Let’s just say they knew what they were talking about, the food was delicious!
One of the main reasons we visited Nizwa was to see the Nizwa Fort, one of the oldest forts in Oman. We were up very early and were lucky to have the entire place to ourselves. I must say, it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen; a highlight for me was taking the steps all the way to the top of the Fort, where we could see the town from many different angles and even the surrounding mountains.
We took a break for fresh juices at a local café and we were off to Muscat, a scenic hour-and-a-half drive away. It was our first time visiting Muscat and we were so excited to finally see the capital of Oman. We arrived just in time for lunch; with a bit of research, I found Copper, an Australian restaurant serving great food and speciality coffee, in the neighbourhood of Qurum.
We chose to stay at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort because of its location, nestled between rocky mountains and clear blue water. It’s hard to believe that it’s only a 15-minute drive from the city centre and yet so quiet. The resort has three hotels and plenty of dining options; we loved Bait Al Bahr located just by the beach, where we enjoyed the fresh catch of the day followed by drinks at the Piano Lounge.
Since we were in Muscat for a short time, we could only pick one place to see and that was the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This architectural masterpiece is surrounded by a beautiful garden, making a statement for people passing by. We got goose bumps walking inside the main prayer room and seeing the grand chandelier; it’s said to be the second largest in the world.
We could not leave Oman without visiting the famous Wadi Shab, and honestly, it was the best way to end our trip. Reaching it was so enjoyable since most of the road was on the coastline, giving us a glimpse of just how beautiful the Gulf of Oman is. After reaching the starting point, we had to walk for approximately 45 minutes across the emerald water pools and in no time, we found a secluded part just for ourselves.
Before visiting Oman, I had done my research and had an idea of what to expect. I knew we would see breathtaking mountain ranges, pristine waters and white sandy beaches. What I did not know was how welcoming and warm the Omani people truly are, how proud they are of their origins and how they love to share their culture with their guests.