O(h)man surprise !!

Here I was trying hard to contain my excitement about my first euro trip (but I barely managed) What I dint know was , that there was another surprise waiting for me. We had a layover of 8 hours at Muscat, Oman on our way to Zurich…we tried getting a transit visa here in Mumbai itself before our trip but the officials told us that it’s not possible as we were late. We enquired about visa on arrival too but we came to know that there’s no visa on arrival there. So we were prepared to spend 8 hours in the airport doing nothing. But to our surprise when we landed at Muscat, the Oman Air granted each one of us a 24hours visa on arrival, with free hotel stay, free food and free wifi. What more can one ask for.

We were directly taken to our hotel which was at Al Khuwair. Al Khuwair is like the heart of the city. We just had 6 hours in hand after we reached the hotel and freshened up ..so without wasting any more time we set out to explore the surrounding areas.

This huge supermarket was right next to our hotel, we decided to window shop. It’s huge and all we did was drool over the varieties of chocolates available there.

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The Supermarket next to our hotel @ Al Khuwair

Our next stop was the Al Zawawi mosque which was just 10 mins from our hotel. It was almost dark and the mosque looked beautiful with all the lights. We dint go inside as it’s not open for non-Muslims. The Al Zawawi mosque is so elegant and breathtakingly beautiful that we couldn’t stop admiring its beauty from the outside.

The beautiful Al Zawawi Mosque.

                   The beautiful Al Zawawi Mosque.

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A family friend who lives in the same vicinity told us that the mosque is a gift to the people of Oman from the Al Zawawi family and was built in the memory of one of the family member. It was opened in 1985. It stands gleaming with its golden dome and a tall minaret. A must visit when your in Muscat.

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Just across the street was the ministries building. Although it was dark and we couldn’t venture out much due to limited time. We crossed the street and came across this beautifully lit structure .

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                     As seen from across the street.

We even managed to squeeze in a visit to a family friends house in the little time that we had. Although there is a lot to see in muscat , this was all that we could manage to catch a glimpse of .Muscat is so beautiful and clean that it makes you sit back and take notice. The city has well paved roads and the roads are manicured with green lawns. Everything is so well planned . The unique Omani architecture , the white and cream colored buildings, the huge lawns and fountains , stained glass windows, the domes and minarets and large arched entrances all add to a certain character to the urban space in Muscat. The city is calm and serene like nobody is a hurry a big contrast to our Mumbai life. I promised myself that I would come back to this place and see what it has to offer. For now it was goodbye.

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And here I am…after a long sabbatical !

I have been off blogging for almost 8 months now. Life has been a roller coaster with lots of ups and downs…actually more of downs in these 6 months. While the first 2 months were all about travelling… The rest were the worst days of my life. While my husband fractured his leg and was on plaster for almost a month and I lost my father in law during the same time to pneumonia. While we were hopeful that he would make it as his condition had improved but life is cruel at times. All this had taken a toll on me and was off blogging for a few months.

My husband encouraged me to get back to blogging and so here in am. All ready to share my travel stories with you . Before all this happened, I had planned my first europe trip in August last year after months of preparations and meticulous planning. It was special because
1. It was my first europe trip to my dream destination Switzerland.
2. It was my first trip without any of the men in my family (my hubby or dad).
3. I had done all the planning on my own…little details like which route to take…the itinerary, the hotel bookings…the train timings.. Bus timings..restaurants everything was planned by me without the help of any agent (which was always the case with my travels thanks to my protective family)
4. I was the leader in the group of 4.

And yes it was the best trip of my life.. I am more confident now.

I also travelled to another place which has been on top of my list since ages , Sikkim last November. Another one ticked off my list. I was bowled over by the beauty of this state, the warmth of the people and the simplicity of life. They live life to the fullest without any regrets. The only disappointment were the roads , I would be writing about it on my blog soon. Apart from that everything was just perfect.

Do stay tuned for my travel stories about these places in the days to come.