Middle East 2016: Nizwa

Much of the two hour drive to Nizwa was scenic, but marred occasionally by power lines.

Sama'il Gap

Sama'il Gap

Though overcast by the coast, by the time we arrived in Nizwa it was bright and sunny. Unfortunately, the souk was partially closed on Saturday afternoon, leaving open only the more touristy trinket stores. Leandra was appalled at the starting prices she was given for a few items, so she did her shopping at a fixed price shop inside the fort that benefits a local nonprofit cultural association.

Nizwa Souk

Nizwa Souk clay pot   Nizwa Fort window

Just up the street from the souk is the Nizwa Fort, a commanding structure with a large round tower. Refreshingly, you can access most of the site, even the stairs to the roofs, so the views are great. The tower itself has some interesting designs to prevent intruders including trick steps (no longer in use of course!), iron banded doors in tight staircases, plus numerous murder holes! I pity the soldiers that had to try taking this fort.

Nizwa Fort

The basement of the fort had lots of explanations and exhibits on Oman life when the fort was in use.

It was now 2p, and we needed to get out of the sun for a bit. On the way into town we had seen a Carrefour shopping center, so we decided to find some lunch. This turned into a multi-mile u-turn adventure, as the entrances is only on one side of the street, and getting to the proper side of the street is a challenge with no traffic circles. However, we persevered and found plenty to eat in the grocery store.

Refreshed, we made our way to Jabeen castle. Unlike Nizwa we were given a nice pamphlet at the entrance. Though a little smaller, the inside felt more refined. Once again, roof access was possible, with some amazing views (and incredible wind!).

Jabeen Castle

Jabeen Castle   stack of books

windy!   Jabeen Castle

From here we decided to drive up to the mountain village of Misfah. As expected, the drive up was very twisty, with several viewpoints (and turnoffs, rare in Oman). Great view of date palms across valley.

desert views

views from Misfah   Misfah village

We eventually made it to the parking area of the village itself. While there are some nice hikes from here, the sun was starting to set, so after a long day of dry sunshine we took that as our cue to start the drive back to Muscat. Traffic got a bit heavier after dark as people came to town for the weekend, so we stayed a bit more to the right than normal given the slower speed of our rental. Our showers were well earned back at the hotel, as was our savory Indian dinner.

Middle East 2016: Qatar Airways

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To get to Oman we flew through Doha, Qatar, on Qatar Airways. Qatar flies its newest jets from Philadelphia in the morning, so we'd flown up the night before on American. After a quick snack in the British Airways lounge they announced boarding and … [Continue reading]

Middle East 2016: Introduction

our view toward the sea

We've long wanted to visit the UAE and Oman, and we've really wanted to try out the Etihad First Class apartments. When seats became available this winter we booked a relatively quick trip for the weekend after Easter that would take us to Muscat, … [Continue reading]

Vietnam 2016: tasting Hanoi

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After the snafu with our hotel, I was ready to get out and about and try some local beers (that potentially weren't yellow). Thankfully, I had read up on a place that had a variety of brews available and we were not disappointed. Even better, Caps n' … [Continue reading]

Vietnam 2016: shopping in Hanoi

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Hanoi is a bustling city, and things are for sale wherever you look. Friday night our path from dinner to the hotel took us right past the Night Market. The crowds were fairly sizable, but not as tight or jostling as Taipei. Clothing was the dominant … [Continue reading]

Vietnam 2016: sights with Hanoi Kids

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The last three days of our trip were spent in bustling Hanoi, so we had time to see quite a few sights. While researching the trip I came across Hanoi Kids, a college club that pairs students wanting to practice English with tourists. That sounded … [Continue reading]

Vietnam 2016: Hanoi hotels

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For the second half of our Vietnam trip we were in Hanoi twice, first for a single night, then for two nights. We carefully chose places based on quietness and breakfast options; unfortunately for us, we didn't get to stay at either of our … [Continue reading]