Oman in 6 days Part 1

Here’s a replay of an article I made a ways back for a frequent flyer website, of a trip to Oman.
A couple of years ago I decided to hop on the infamous BAH fare for $710. I had earned a $500 credit a couple months prior so applied that for a very cheap $210 to the mid-east and back. This was pretty much my first mileage run, in my first year “in the game” and getting status and all that. I timed it for Thanksgiving since I’d have half the week off anyway.

Being a broke student, I couldn’t in good conscience go all that way without spending some time, if not in BAH, then SOMEWHERE. Later in the summer I found some cheap fares that would let me go to DXB and MCT.
BAH-MCT RT was $168 and MCT-DXB RT was $69. So for under $400 I had a pretty nice trip lined up.

A couple months in, my original in-bound flights were cancelled, and UA offered to put me on some LX flights that earned 100%. I decided to do this even though it was fewer miles, to maximise the time I spent abroad.

Flight 1: LAX-FRA in Lufthansa econ

Pretty unremarkable once I got on the plane. I was stopped by a security guard as I was boarding and got questioned for 2ish minutes. When asked about my final dest, he was like, “aren’t you scared?” I said no, but I admit I had a touch of nervousness about it.

I had hoped for “poor man’s business” in the back of the plane, having the only seat in a row of 4, but there was one other person. However, later on the guy said, I’m crashing, feel free to stretch out on the other 3 seats. Sweet! I requested a lactose-free meal since LX meals I have always been disgusted by all the cream and mayo and such. Dinner and breakfast were the same thing, veggies in tomato sauce + rice, didn’t get me sick, but far from filling me up either. I guess that must have been the veggie meal too? It was reasonably fresh at least.

I had about 3 hrs in FRA and didn’t do much other than check email. .I learned that I passed my preclinical exam, so indulged in a little vino in the senator lounge.

Flight 2: FRA-BAH in Luft econ

Also s/w unremarkable. This time I was able to score a row of 4 and after dinner (polenta w/veggies in, you guessed it, tomato sauce) and knocked out most of the flight. There was a stop in Doha which would have been awesome to get as a seperate segment, but I couldn’t talk agents into this. We weren’t allowed off the plane or even to stand up/use the bathroom! Crazy.

Once in BAH, I had a coffee and zaatar croissant for 1 dinar at Jasmi’s cafe (who apparently also sells organic halal beef cheeseburgers) before my 4:30am flight to MCT. .It was a smedge awkward as expected. I had put my scarf on beforehand and felt a little more at ease- saw a handful of Western women without hijab, but none travelling solo.

Flight 3: BAH-MCT in TK econ

The flight was about 2/3 full. I had a seat in the front of the plane. TK seats always seem wider to me and I always have a pleasant experience. Food was fresh lemonade with mint, dry-roasted hazelnuts, and a cherry cake.

Once in MCT I went through immigration fairly painlessly. You have to have 5 rial ($15) for the visa (10 days for tourist) which you can get at the money change desk right next to the visa desks. I felt slightly conspicuous as one of only females there and put a scarf on. In general I dressed conservatively on the trip, loose pants and long tunicy kinda stuff.

I went to pick up my rental at the Budget desk which I got for 78 rial ($200) for the week with a coupon. It’s pretty much impossible to travel in Oman without your own vehicle unless you are going on a really expensive pre-arranged tour.

Day 1: Muscat

Hotel: Crown Plaza Muscat (5K IHG points)

I spent the morning at the big mosque on the way from Seeb airport to Muscat proper, which is open from 8-11am. It’s the 3rd biggest mosque in the world, with a large garden complex outside. It was really quite impressive, with marble floors all around the complex of buildings. Free.

Afterwards I went down to the Corniche area to have a look at some forts, the fish market, and the souk/gold souk (all free). They apparently had bad rains a few days before, so the floor in the souks were really wet and drenched my shoes. I really wasn’t all that impressed by the souk, but a lot of shops were closed due to the rains previously, and many people were sopping up the wet spots. Very busy, however. I had lunch of pineapple-orange juice, a falafel, and “chips” for 1.5 rial at the big juice center at the corniche area (it’s right in the center of the cafes, with pink tablecloths outside). Quite a few tourists here, mostly German, though I did see one young Japanese couple. I actually didn’t meet any fellow Americans my whole time in Oman/UAE, nor any solo travellers.

I stopped off at one of the Lulu hypermarkets on the way back from the corniche (it’s near a big roundabout on the right) where I got some fresh hummus, fatoush salad, dolmades, and kidney bean salad, along with 6L of water for a little over 2 rials.

Later in the day I headed to Crown Plaza Muscat which I got on a point breaks for 5K points. It was REALLY nice, with a huge bath and fancy bath products, and private beach in addition to a big pool area. I guess I signed up for some drinks promo so I was offered a free drink at the pool bar. I ended up not using it that day and got them to exchange it the next morning for a pot of coffee at the restaurant instead (the room had decent tea, but only nescafe, typical of the mid-east).

 

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