Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
"People travel to faraway places to watch, in facination, the kind of people they ignore at home." -Dagobert D. Runes
Its hard to believe our trip is coming to an end.
We start a bit later this morning, since I was up late downloading photos from Joel's camera onto my computer. Chris and I head over to the Grand Mosque. It is located 5 minutes away from the house, and is a huge structure, taking up around 3 city blocks one way, and roughly 2 city blocks wide. The grounds are immaculately manicured, with golf green like grass, and beautiful flowers. There is no details amiss, with every door, corner, window sill, decorated beautifully. We were told that three years ago, non Muslims were not permitted to visit the mosque, but now, they have visiting hours from 8-11 Saturday to Wednesday.
Grand Mosque: Stain glass window in main prayer room. No attention to detail is missed.
We enter through the visitor's entrance, and are “examined”, to ensure we are dressed “decent”. For Chris this means a shirt, and pants. For me, however, it means, I must be covered up to the ankles, and up to the wrists, and wearing a headscarf that covers my hair, neck and ears.
Only my feet, hands and face are uncovered. At one point, since I was wearing a black pashmina on my head, a black cardigan and a black dress, I was mistaken for a local, and asked where the book store was. At least I know I “passed” the examination.
The first court yard has falaj, a water canal running through it, as well as fountains. The ground is covered in beautiful, and perfectly cleaned large marble tiles. The first “room” we entered was the ladies' prayer room, which can hold 750 women. It was ornate, with arched stained glass windows and amazing detailing. Between this room and the next, was a sort of courtyard, we are told there is room for 6000 here to pray outside. The main prayer room, is immense, with giant sparkling chandeliers, a domed ceiling which is painted with so much detail, it reminds one of an ornate piece of jewelry.
We are at this point, asked to leave shortly, as they are closing early today, due to a big wig visitor from Egypt. We quickly walk outside, taking in as much as we can, on our way out to the main gate. The ablution room, the room where Muslims clean their feet before prayer is also a piece of art, with marble covering most of the surfaces and a fountain flowing from the middle. After exiting, we took a stroll around the outside of the mosque, to take more photos. As we walked around we are amused by a Caucasian woman in her 30's who is fussing with her head scarf in an attempt to look “decent” as per the rules, but who's breasts are practically hanging out of her shirt.
Chris with our tour guide at Bait Al Falaj
Next stop is the Bait al Falaj. It is the National Museum of defense, with artifacts of war. We drive through the checkpoint at the gate, and are instructed where to park.
After we pay the 1 rial admission each, we are escorted by a man in full dress military uniform. He advises us that his English is poor, but he does his best, and we understand most of what he says. The museum is well laid out over two floors, with each room dedicated to another theme. There are guns and rifles from all over the world, labeled with it's approximate dates. Rifle from Canada circa 1941 read one. We assume it was used in the second world war. After touring the inside, our tour guide takes us outside to see several war planes including a Canadian DeHavilland Beaver, as well as tanks and a small war ship. We see a Cadillac that was used by the Sultan's VIP guests, with its thick bullet proof windows. Our tour guide insists I get inside, for photo, then proceeds to call me the Queen of Canada. ROFL!
Canadian gun circa WWII
We headed back to the house after stopping to get a quick McDonald's lunch.
(the shwarma place wasn't serving swarmas at that hour unfortunately), so Chris was able to try the McArabia...which turned out to be a pita with veggies and sauce and two chicken patties. I suppose you gotta try everything once in your life! I took a nap for a couple hours, then once Joel and Tina came home, Tina and I went to the spa for pedicures. (Thanks Tina!!!) this in itself was silly, since I don't do well with pedicures, due to being ridiculously ticklish, but my feet have never felt so good afterwards! Chris and Joel cruised the beach front, and took in some football. (soccer) Seems, all young men in Oman love soccer, and will set up a soccer game, in the craziest of places. Today, it was the beach, with several games going on.
Tank, possibly used in Desert Storm
We had dinner at the top of a mountain, at a beautiful restaurant specializing in Indian food.
It had a water fall running in the middle of the restaurant. We got there for 7pm, and there was no one there but us. Seems everyone eats dinner much later in Oman, as the restaurant was very busy by the time we left. I indulged again in butter chicken, Chris had a lamb dish, Tina and Joel had fried broccoli and another vegetable dish. For appetizers, we also had some lovely warm naan, samosas and pakoras. Although I am not sure what was in the pakoras, they were very good, as were the chicken with the red sauce that we got. Chris remarked that he was very impressed with all the very different food I was trying out. I suppose when you don't have much other choice, you just try it. I'm glad I did, as now I know I enjoy middle eastern food quite a bit, having eaten more hummus this week then I have in my lifetime.
Soccer, a favorite way enjoy the evening