A conference in Oman – wow a chance to visit somewhere different and a country I knew very little about. Oman, officially known as Sultantate of Oman.

Our first stop was the capital, Muscat – wow, what a beautiful city. To be honest I had no pre-conceived ideas but first impressions on arriving was how clean, contemporary but still highlighting the traditional Omani way and the views – surrounded by mountains and the beautiful Arabian Sea !!

Our hotel in Muscat was the Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa – Al Bander Hotel – have to say pure luxury. I could very well get used to this life !!

We visited the grand Mosque – oh the glare from the white marble was unbelievable. The mosque was just so beautiful and peaceful. The architecture amazing. 

The most impressive features is the design of the interior carpet and the 14 meter tall chandelier (it’s not Waterford Crystal though – I checked)

Also, had the chance to cruise the pristine coastline of Muscat on the luxury 75ft Catamaran, SY Azzura – now I’m not really a “boat” person, however, this was amazing. If you are into diving or snorkeling then you will love Oman – it is now a major attraction for divers. The waters are clear and just perfect.

It has now become a tradition that I sing on these trips with CAN (Concorde Agents Group) and use it as a fundraiser for local charities – so I had the privilege of singing the Voyage – a perfect song for the beautiful seas.

Forts and castles are Oman's most striking cultural landmarks and together with its towers and city walls, they have historically been used as defensive bastions and/or look-out points. It is estimated that there are over 500 forts, castles and towers in Oman and with Nizwa Fort being one of the most impressive with its striking architecture & style.

Nizwa was historically a seat of learning and a bastion for writers and poets including many renowned Sufi philosophers and the birth place of Islam in Oman. We Visited the Nizwa Fort and the famous Nizwa Souk which is famous for its silver jewelry - yes, I did spend a few dollars here !!

One of our most amazing days of touring was the trip into the majestic mountains to see the sheer vastness of this ancient land and begin our journey into Jabel Akhdar (Green Mountain). Rising to over 3000metres above sea level, the Hajjar Mountain are one of the undiscovered wonders of the country. Tour traditional villages, date plantations and if in season, witness the harvest of the indigenous Jabel Akhdar Rock Rose used in some of the most valuable perfumes in the world. The roads are incredible but all travel must be done in a 4WD. I have to say the mountains was like the grand canyon but on steroids.

We stopped in a secluded area at the bottom of the canyon and there we had a few drinks – definitely a few bottles of Verve (we did not do this in a public area as drinking alcohol outside is probably not the done thing – so we were sympathetic to the local ways). It was here again that I sang – however, of all the places I have sung this was probably the most amazing. The natural amphitheatre of the surrounding mountains allowed the sound to soar and the echo to surround us. This is definitely a moment in time that was special for the group and personally just one of those times you wish you could do again.

We travelled to Allila Resort & Spa Jabel Akhdar – the hotel had not even opened yet but boy were we privileged to have a tour there and lunch. This hotel is beyond amazing – it is at the top of the mountain range. We were given a traditional greeting by the locals.  It is the first hotel ever in this region and the attention to detail to include the local community. I will be going back to Oman just to stay at this hotel.

Oman is a fabulous destination to do something different. The people, scenery, culture and food will not disappoint you – I can highly recommend this as a holiday or even a side trip when travel to or from Europe. Go on visit somewhere different.

 

and have the time of your life

"As everyone will have no doubt heard or read, travelling overseas in 2020 has been difficult to say the least. Unfortunately we went through every ex-pat's worst nightmare, news came through of a critically ill relative in Ireland, and I was forced to make the difficult decision to leave my wife and kids in Australia during the peak of Melbourne's second wave in August. The level of customer service and attention to detail shown by Chris at Emerald Travel in booking the trip was not only excellent, her work has had a profound positive impact on all our family, both here and in Ireland, and will stay with us forever. We will forever be indebted to Chris, and we look forward to booking all our future trips home with Emerald Travel. Go raibh míle, míle maith agat!"

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