18 April 2012, Gail’s trip log

Oman was amazing. We were already in the harbor when we woke up – just arriving at our berth. Watched the pilot boat from our balcony. First surprise was the hills around the port – not the barren desert we were expecting. There is desert, of course, but right around the port and the city of Muscat there are desert hills and rocky outcrops. [I thought it looked like Needles, California area] We had our breakfast and went down to wait for our tour – only had to wait a few minutes and we were off. Our guide, Yosef, dressed in traditional Islam garb, was very good. He spoke excellent English and had a sense of humor – was very open and good at answering questions. The first thing we noticed was how clean the city is – and then the guide pointed out that every building in the city is white – no ornamentation, just white, angular design that from a distance you might imagine looks like some ancient city from Biblical times. Oman is very conservative and obviously Islam. Men were mostly in long white robes with caps with geometric designs. The women wore long black dresses with their faces covered. We didn’t see too many women out except at the souk (marketplace). Our first destination was the Grand Mosque, which is 20 miles out of town – which gave us a nice view of the area. It is the third largest mosque in the world, behind Mecca and Medina. We had to wear long pants, long sleeved shirts (men and women) and women had to wear a scarf over their heads. The mosque can hold 20,000 worshippers – has a Svarovski crystal chandelier that weighs 8 tons and the largest single handwoven rug ever made. We spent ½ hour there and it was really amazing – marble floors and walls, beautiful decorations everywhere. Dan took lots of pictures. Next stop was the souk where Dan got a hat and some postcards. Then we stopped at a small, but very interesting, museum of Omani history and culture – much about the current Sultan who has been in power for 40 years. He has done much to modernize the city and who built the mosque as well as the humongous palace complex which was the last stop on our tour. The palace we saw is one of 8 in Oman. We were back on board by 1230 for 100 sailaway. Had lunch, then bridge – came in 2nd. After bridge we attended the last Mass of the cruise (priest is leaving us in Dubai). We went to the dining room tonight – I had been waiting for them to have the rack of lamb. Dan is feeling a bit yucky again, so he is trying another round of drugs we brought. We hope it works this time. To bed early, Dubai tomorrow.

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