Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 85 Muscat, Oman

Can you believe it? We just had another day in the desert with rain. It can go 2 years here without rain and we were so lucky to have on our visit today… Yeah right!!! That may sound good to some but when I am on vacation I’d prefer to have nice weather. We headed out early this morning and made our way to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and grand it was. The photos can’t do it justice, just beautiful! Next up was the souk or market which was closed because of the rain…. We were supposed to go to the fish market as well but, due to rain it was closed. Rain has a big impact around here. People take off and go out with their families to enjoy the rain. We did hit a few shops but there was nothing there for me. I couldn’t evn get a fridge magnet…. Bummer. Next we went to the museum, the Bait Al Zubair, which was very nice and informative. We then got a scenic photo stop looking down at the palace & fort and then we went down and explored outside the palace to wrap up a nice morning (rain aside). After we leave Muscat, Oman we have four days at sea before arriving at Victoria, Seychelles. I hope the weather cooperates….

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 84 At Sea

Today was much better than expected… I fully expected stormy weather since Dubai and the Arabian Peninsula were expecting storms again today. The weather, up to 2:00, was pretty nice which made for a relaxing day as we sailed through the Straits of Hormuz which separate the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman. You can see Iran from one side of the ship and the U.A.E. from the other as you sail through the straits. Last night was lovely, we sailed out of Dubai around midnight having one last look at it’s ever growing skyline. It was a nice sail away party in the Crow’s Nest. One thing I have to say about this world voyage is that they pretty much have a sail away party at each port which is nice. Tomorrow we arrive in Muscat, Oman around 0700. I will be taking a ship’s tour (hope it’s a good one). Here is the description: Muscat & the Market Begin your fascinating drive through Muscat by passing through the beautiful embassy quarter. Your destination is Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Stepping inside, you'll realize why this mosque is celebrated as a true splendor of Islamic architecture. Next you'll take a stroll through Muscat's Old Town-- packed with alleyways, stalls, shops and people. See the 16th-century Portuguese-built forts of Jalali and Mirani, and walk past the Qasr Al Alam Palace--home to HM Sultan Qaboos. Next, you'll venture into the Bait Al Baranda Museum to learn the story of Muscat from ancient times to the present day. The museum is located in a renovated Omani House in the delightful Muttrah quarter and boasts one of Oman's finest private collections showcasing the country's culture, tradition and heritage. Finally, enjoy a little shopping at the busy souk (market), well known for its good deals on silver, perfumes and souvenirs

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 83 Dubai, U.A.E.

Today’s tour wasn’t one of the best…. The torrential downpours were definitely a negative but the total mismanagement of the tour, lack of stops and a serious lack of rest room breaks made it a real stinker…. The low point was when one of our male passengers had to get out as we pulled over so he could relieve himself while several passengers on the bus laughed their heads off. Such a classy crowd. To top it off, our 9 hour tour grew to 10 ½ hours….. Anyway, this was not a proud moment for Holland America. I would not add this tour to the Signature of Excellence program. That aside, I did get to 3 new Emirates that I hadn’t been to before, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah….Add that to Abu Dhabi yesterday and that’s a lot of new places to explore. The old fort in Fujairah was pretty cool but we were only allowed a 5 minute stop…. The best scenic stop was the Oasis because it was a lovely place and it was sunny at the time. I did come across some really nice people today who loved having their photo taken. I really appreciated the mother and her daughter who stopped to allow me to have a photo. That was a highlight for the day….