There is something very fascinating about traveling. That feeling of freedom that fills your senses every time you visit a new place. The amazement to see beautiful unusual landscapes, meet people who might look different and might have a different culture but share the same heart.
I wish I could keep filling my soul by traveling. The world seems to have a different opinion these days about traveling, and about meeting people in general. The “new normal” imposed by a virus has kept us apart, has kept us afraid and skeptical about other people and other places.
It makes me sad, because I think the best way to be present in this life is by getting to know the world we live in- the only place that we have been and will ever be- and during the journey, discover as well our own selves.
Freedom seems like a utopic word; however, there is something they cannot take away from us: Our memories, our history and our learnings.
I opened my travel diary to share with you another place that is very worth visiting. It is a gem in the middle east.
Muscat, capital city of the Sultanate of Oman is a city that lies in the Arabic Sea and is surrounded by the beautiful Western Al Hajar Mountains. My first impression after arriving at the Muscat International Airport made a big impression on me, being my first time in the middle east. However, it was a very positive experience: People smiling, letting families have priority in the waiting line, and gentle treatment by the migration officials made a very pleasant first impression.
The beach in Muscat is very special. It makes you feel like in a deserted-like paradise, with the rocky cliffs in terracotta color and the palms standing back, welcoming the waves.
One of the must-see places to go in Muscat is definitely the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It is a beautiful and stunning Mosque built on marble, with an impressive architecture. Inside the praying hall has a beautiful prodigious Persian carpet, which makes you feel like you have travelled back in time to the XVI century.
Driving along the coast, seeing on one side the terracotta color, dazzling brown rock cliff hills and on the other side the profound deep royal blue ocean, it´s a one of a kind experience everyone must experience once in life. I wish the picture would make it justice to the beauty of it, but I think there is nothing like observing it with your own eyes.
If shopping is what you are looking for, Muscat has it all: From the famous Mutrah Souq, which is a typical, Arabic old-fashioned bazaar, which has been opened since the XVIII century, all the way to the ultra modern Oman Avenues Mall, which is the largest shopping centre in Oman and house of the finest retail luxury brands.
For the adventurous people, there are as well plenty of things to do. Just a few hours away from Muscat, you can visit numerous whadi shabs, which are small valleys with deposits of crystal water in the middle of the deserted mountains surrounding Oman. It is literally like finding beautiful Oasis in the middle of the desert. The water is so fresh and clean that many people used the opportunity to take a fresh swim to mitigate the hot temperatures!
Cultural places are as well very much present and a very central aspect of the city, as it is expected in such a rich and wonderful culture full of well preserved Arab traditions. If you are curious about the rich history of Oman and neighboring countries, a must go visit is definitely the National Museum of Muscat. It is a relatively new museum which opened its doors on 2016. It is a very modern and beautiful facility where the nation´s heritage is showcased from the very earliest days when the first humans settled in Oman, all the way to the present day.
As always, the people are the landmark and what makes the difference between a bad experience or a wonderful one. The experience I´ve had with Omani people has been absolutely remarkable. We had the privilege to meet wonderful people who opened their heart and their city to us. I will share a little store which will stay with me forever.
One night while walking for hours among the Muscat Marina harbor, we felt quite lost and decided to take a taxi back to the hotel. It was quite late, dark and empty, and we thought no one would take us anymore at that time. Suddenly, a taxi driver stopped and asked us if we needed help. He took us with him, and drove us safe back to the hotel. During the ride, he was very friendly and curious about us visiting Oman; when we told him it was our first time, and we didn´t know much about what to do or where to go, he offered to give us a tour all over Muscat. Not only he did took us every day for the whole day to show us the finest places in the city; he also introduced us to his friends, and we could even enjoy a wonderful cup of tea and Omani sweets with the locals on a sunny day at the park!
More than visiting the touristic sights of the place, more than taking pictures in the coolest spots of the city- what traveling really means for me is to connect- to connect with the people, with the traditions and the culture; to share our knowledge, experience and to show humility on the act. You can always learn something new. You can always get amazed about new ways of doing things, of seeing life, of living life.
That my friends, is a life worth living, a life of restless discovery, amazement and love.
For many more travels to come!