I guess it is about time for a recap of my first week of this trip and a quick teaser of what may come in the next weeks. So here is the situation: I presently find myself in Muscat, the capital of the sultanate of Oman (doesn’t ring a bell? I’ll give a hint or two, Oman is south of Dubai and next to Saudi Arabia.) The next few weeks I will be touring around Oman on my bike, expecting to encounter quite a bit of sand as I pedal along and spotting the odd camel or two from the roadside. With a bit of luck, I might even meet some of the proper nomads roaming in this part of the world. I do have a feeling that any nomad I might find, get around in a huge air conditioned 4WD rather than on the back of a camel.
First I had to get here! Every new bicycle adventure far from home begins with battling the road system to and from the airport. And I hate it! I am happy to have my base in Copenhagen, which has an airport where you can ride your bicycle right to the ladder to the plane or bring it on the train. But generally arriving with a bicycle anywhere in the world means you have to brave riding on a highway or see if you can locate some means of transport that will bring you to your destination.
Arriving in the middle of the night in Muscat, I did not waste much time but put the bike together, loaded the bags onto the racks and went straight onto the highway expecting there would be little traffic at this unholy hour. Without a map anywhere in sight, imagine how much fun I had finding my hotel with only the moon to guide me! There was next to no traffic and a wide shoulder. Still, I tried to find alternative routes but every time I asked for direction, I was told to go on the highway. I have now learned my lesson and my informers were right: Trying to avoid the highways will not get you anywhere in this city. It is a sad state of the human race that you need a car to get around even if the distances are a few km. To sum it up: I have spent hours trawling through the city looking for a bookshop and have not found any. On the other hand, I have seen hundreds of car dealers (including Ferrari, Lamborghini and Jaguar), not to mention the shops selling accessories to cars. We are talking priorities here!
I cannot say, I am particularly impressed by Muscat. The sights are few and getting around is a pain. The main attractions are the old part of town with its harbor and souq (a covered market). I suspect most tourists coming here, are arriving on a cruise ship and see little but this.
Enough! Todays rant is over. I will be kind to it now and show Muscat from its prettiest side.
Postcard pretty view of the old town of Muscat in the Sultanete of Oman. Photo: Joel Schumann 2012
The Souq in Muscat, Oman. Photo: Joel Schumann
With the calls of the muezzins prayer from the nearby mosque coming through my window while the sun sets, I will end this first post. As I said, it is time for me to move on and tomorrow I start the touring part for real. New to me, I bring a tent this time and plan to camp on a few of those deserted stretches of beautiful beaches the brochures in the lobby are telling me about. I hope this will offer a glimpse of hope for those of my readers that are still struggling with sub zero temperatures and sleet and snow back in Europe ha ha.