Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Muscat Travel Series: Souq Mutrah

Happy Wednesday all! 

I got a lot of responses on the Muscat posts yesterday from people asking me if I was still in Muscat, but I am not. I was there few months ago and I finally have time to blog about it. It is totally worth a visit! This travel series started with Ten Things to do in Muscat and now it continues with a new post about shopping! Muscat has few big malls that have the usual American and European big brands like Zara, Mango, Aldo, H&M and the rest. Personally, I am sick of those brands because I am surrounded by them everywhere! I was really pleased to go to the traditional Mutrah Souq.   

Shops are arranged inside, outside and all around. They all sell similar things such as key chains, lanterns, wooden boxes, jewellery, scarves, some clothes and so on. There are few cold beverage stalls around the souq. There was only two traditional desert -halwa- shops there. If you are walking around with a camera people will stare. I liked that the sales men weren't too pushy with sales, unlike Turkey and Moroco where it feels like you are being attacked by the sellers.  

It was midday when I went in, but it was sunset by the time I got out. Time really flies when you are shopping.
A little snap of the souq interior. 

After the Souq, I checked out the surrounding area. There is the sea front known as the corniche, a little museum called Bain Albarnda, few local restaurants and some lovely architecture like the one in the pictures below.

Lovely old mosque
Part of the mosque

Arches are loved & used a lot in Omani Architecture. It's part of their heritage and it looks really nice. Just look how beautiful arches make the space look:

Beautiful Islamic Patterns

If you are in Muscat, I recommend a visit to the souq. It's close to the Ritz resort. More Muscat posts are coming!  

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Muscat Travel Series: Beach Day

Happy Omani National day everyone! 

I am very excited to kick off the Muscat travel series on the national day :D 

I know it's getting really cold in London and other places, which makes me go flick through my holiday snaps to get some warmth. Last summer, I spent few blissful days in Muscat, Oman. *MashAllah* My favourite thing was the beach. Just sitting there by the waves, looking at how blue and clear it is, dipping my feet in the warm waters, going for a swim and appreciating what life got to offer. Of course no beach day is complete without some cold refreshing coconuts. Look at the pictures below and day dream with me. 

Note: this beach in the pictures is the Quram public beach. It was nice، quiet and clean. Mostly family oriented. I didn't swim there because it was full of teenager boys and young adults (on the other side of the pictures), but it was still a very nice beach to relax.

Dress Code Note: Keep in mind that Muscat is a muslim country and dress accordingly. Dressing half naked and in bikinis in public is very disrespectful to the traditions and the religion. You can dress in whatever you like in resorts and in the other private beaches. 

For more things to do in Muscat, please check the first post of this travel series:
Ten Things to Do in Muscat

Muscat Travel Series: Ten Things to do in Muscat

In the last few months, I visited Muscat, the capital of Oman, few times and I really loved it. It's such a great place to visit. It is very different than other countries in the Arabian Gulf. It's exotic, surrounded by the most beautiful beaches, and still not so crowded.
I am a little scared to share all these good spots because I really hope it doesn't turn into another Dubai. Part of Oman's charm is the quiet and friendly atmosphere. Click on each of the titles below to see more pictures and more details. ( Each point will have a special post, they will all be coming daily for the next few days)

Top tip: there are taxis all over, but renting your own car will be very handy and will take you to further places. 

1- Stay at the Ritz (Al Bustan Palace) or the Shangri La
Theses two resorts are absolutely beautiful and have their own private beaches. If all you want to do is chill out and relax in Muscat, stay at one of them for the whole weekend and enjoy the views. 
The Chedi is another popular resort and is a little busier, but loved by many. I haven't stayed there personally, so I can't comment.
2- Drink a coconut and Chill on the beach -public or private-
My favourite thing in Muscat are the beaches. If you stay in one of the places mentioned above, the beach will be at your fingertips. If not, there are public beaches all over town, where you park your car and dive in the water. If you prefer another private beach, check the Oman Diving Center.
3- Visit the Grand Mosque
Worth a visit! It's so pretty.
4- Attend a show at the Royal Opera House
I am so proud of Oman for having an opera house. It's architecturally gorgeous and the shows are entreating. Most of the shows are during the christmas and the new year break.
5- Have a meal at the Royal Opera House 
The opera house is not only for shows, but for temporary exhibits, high class shops and lovely places to eat and have deserts. I tried the MORE cafe there. 
6- Go to the traditional market, Mutrah Souq
In muscat, they have few shopping malls such as the Muscat Grand Mall, Muscat City Center and few smaller ones. I wasn't interested in the easily accessible high retail shops because it's the same merchandise everywhere. I prefer traditional, local shops and that's exactly what I found in the Mutrah Souq. 
7- Visit the Bait Al Barnda Museum
A short walk from the Mutrah Souq. It is a nice little museum that's fun to checkout.
8- Go up to the mountains or to the sun mountain aka Jabal Shams
The geography in Muscat is very interesting. It extends high up with mountains and down low with valleys. I visited the most popular one there. 
9- Go down to the valley aka wady shab
This was fun, but it could get so hot and crowded.
10- Try the different types of food Muscat got to offer
Muscat has a great selection of all kinds of foods. The malls have a lot of options in their food courts. Some other ones I tried are the Jungle restaurant and the Noodle house. Thankfully all my food experiences have been good in Muscat. It just feels great that everything is halal!
And if all the above points didn't convince you, checkout all the awesome doors and windows I spotted around (coming soon on the blog) and the adventurous mountain goats. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Dinner at the Corinthia Hotel

Good evening lovelies!

I have been living in England for few years now, but this year was my first Halloween out of the house! My designer friend (the design power behind Four Corner Interiors) and I decided to make it a night to remember. The weather was great and we wanted to get the fine taste of London. So, my friend picked the Corinthia hotel and we had such a lovely time *mashAllah*
Spooky exterior fit for Halloween

The lobby.  Can you see the pumpkin center piece & of course the fabulous chandelier?
I loved their flower arrangements and the little plants around the space. In general their interior style was chic old English with a contemporary twist with the chandeliers and accessories.   

I liked the seasonal decoration they had. It made it feel Autumn like. The little pumpkins and the colourful leaves were a nice touch. 
Very Autumn
Their contemporary chandelier
My favourite table in the whole place
My friend and I called and reserved a table 48 hours ahead and asked for a halal option and they made it happen! They brought fresh halal chicken just for us and we had the chance to switch any plate on the menu to be chicken. They had good looking fish options too. 
North Hall Menu
The bread was warm and fresh and the food was REALLY delicious. 
I had the chicken and risotto. That chicken we ordered was really tender and just so good! I also had a side starter of quinoa salad which was the best one I had in a while. We enjoyed the food very much. We were disappointed in their deserts selection. Most had alcohol in them, so we didn't have any, but they looked quiet nice.   
Overall, it was a lovely place for a once in a while splurge.