Friday, 16 August 2019

OUR 2019 HOLIDAYS PART II, WE ARE IN MUSCAT, OMAN

Hello friends,

My narrative about our 2019 holidays continues.  Thanks to my visa fiasco, the full story of which you can read in Part One , our wandering through the Middle East continues.  We spend a first few days of our holidays in Doha and then we flew to Muscat, the port capital of Oman that sits on the Gulf of Oman and surrounded by the mountains and the desert which means that we continued to experience an extremely hot, up to 45 degrees C, weather.
Muscat, Oman
We stayed at Kempinski hotel in Doha and liked it so much that we booked it in Muscat too.  It's situated right on the beach which we were able to see from our room and that remained absolutely deserted during the day and only in the evening, when the heat would subside, few people would come outside to have a swim.
Muscat, Oman
We didn't want to have dinner at the hotel  and asked the concierge where the locals eat.  He suggested that we should try the The Walk, a pedestrian mall with many shops and eateries frequented by locals and tourists alike serving food from all corners of the world, some of them with prime waterfront locations.  We reached it in about 10 minutes after a slow walk and joined the throng of local men and women dressed in their national dress walking up and down the drag enjoying each other’s company on the way to their dinners.  
Muscat, Oman
After a few minutes of walking up and down the street, we settled on a place that was serving local food which was absolutely delicious. 
Muscat, Oman
Since the consumption of alcohol in public places is totally prohibited, except at the Western hotels and resorts, the locals like to spend their evenings over a cup of tea, coffee or some other non-alcoholic beverages and a plate of a delectable sweets in one of the many desert places that you can find along the mall.


Earlier on, as we were walking along The Walk, I looked through one of the shopping windows, I saw a beautifully decorated sweet shop and mentioned to my husband that we should go there after dinner for something sweet. 



Walking back to our hotel, we stopped at the marina to admire a beautiful sunset over the Gulf.
Muscat, Oman
Since we didn't have a car, and public transport is scarce in Muscat and given the extreme weather conditions, we ruled out the possibility of exploring the capital of Oman on our own and let a professional tour guide help us. We contacted the agency called Zahara Tours and for the next two were driven everywhere by an extremely polite and knowledgeable driver/tour guide in a luxury air-conditioned car.  
Royal Opera House of Oman

Royal Opera House of Oman
Our tour began by visiting by visiting Royal Opera House of Oman.  As it was a summer season, there were no performances but it was open for excursions and we went inside.  
Royal Opera House of Oman

Royal Opera House of Oman
It was built on the royal order of Sultan Qaboos of Oman in in a unique Omani contemporary architecture.  Our next stop was a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the main mosque in the Sultanate of Oman.  It was the middle of the day and the Mosque was closed but it looked beautiful from the outside, its golden dome glittering under the hot sun.   
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Our last stop for the day was at Alam Palace, ceremonial residence of the Sultan known for its facade with bright blue and gold columns.
Sultan Qaboos Alam Palace
The following day our guide took us outside Muscat so we could see some old forts which played an important role in the country's history.  After an hours drive, we reached Al Mirani Fort built by the Portuguese in the 16th century.  Although closed to the public, its formidable structure looms large over the harbour and it is noted as one of the iconic landmarks of Muscat.
Al Mirani Fort, Oman

Al Mirani Fort, Oman
Luckily for us the nearby Al Jalali Fort built around the same time as the nearby Al Mirani Fort to protect the harbour was open and we went inside.
Al Jalali Fort, Oman

Al Jalali Fort, Oman

Al Jalali Fort, Oman
The last stop on our daily itinerary was a visit to Oman's Grand Canyon.  It is often referred as Grand Canyon of Arabia and is regarded as one of the best natural attractions in the country.  Our driver carefully and expertly drove the car close to the rocky rim of the canyon and invited us to step out onto so called Balcony Walk.  As we did, we were greeted by the breathtaking view over the canyon, the surrounding mountains and the villages below.
Oman's Grand Canyon

Oman's Grand Canyon

Oman's Grand Canyon

Oman's Grand Canyon


Oman's Grand Canyon
It was late in the afternoon that our guide took us back to the hotel with a short stop at the souk where he took us to the shop that was selling nothing but the dates.  Apparently, there are over 200 types of dates in Oman

I have never seen so many varieties of this fruit.  The owner insists that we tasted as many different types as we wished but they were so sweet, even for me, that after tasting just a few we thank him and left.  And on this sweet note our Middle East adventure came to an end.  At long last our really holiday has begun but all about it in the next post.
Al Jalali Fort, Oman
Until then
Anna
xoxo



Monday, 5 August 2019

OUR 2019 HOLIDAYS - PART ONE WE ARE IN DOHA, QATAR

Hello dear friends,

We came back home from a month of holidays a few weeks ago but I am still struggling to get back into my routine.  Last week I went to the gym for the first time and almost died the next day from pain in every bone and muscle of my body.  I couldn't walk for a few days after that.

Anyhow, we had a wonderful time and I would like to share with your what we saw, ate and did during that time.  Here is Part one of our Holiday 2019 saga.

Unfortunately, it didn't start the way we planned and I will tell you why.  According to our itinerary, the first stop was St Petersburg, Russia.  My husband left Sydney three weeks ahead of me for Cape Town to visit his father.  The plan was that on the same day I would fly from Sydney and him - from Cape Town to Doha, the capital of Qatar where we would stay overnight and on the next day, the 29 of June to be exact would catch a connecting plane to St Petersburg where our holiday would officially begin.  However, when I came to the airport and presented my passport for check-in, it appeared that the date shown on my Russian visa was incorrect, instead of stating the entry date of 29 of June as per my application, it was showing that I can enter Russia not earlier than 2 of July, which was the day when we supposedly would fly from St Petersburg to Moscow.  
View of Doha from the plane
I still don't know whether I entered the wrong date on the application or whether the Russian Embassy made a mistake, the bottom line was that upon receiving the visa, I didn't look at it properly thus was fully responsible for this terrible blunder.  There was no way I would be let into Russia earlier then the date on my visa, I can only fly to Doha as per my ticket and wait there till my visa become valid, ie 2 July.  I managed to get a hold of my husband in Cape Town and asked him to check the date on his visa, it was correct and he was good to go.  However, being a good husband, he said that he is not going anywhere without me, so he cancelled his flight from Doha to St Petersburg and stayed with me in Doha.   
View of Doha from the plane
My frustration with myself was beyond words.  I can't fully express how upset I felt.  Both of us were so looking forward to seeing St Petersburg, visit its amazing palaces and museums, walk along its streets during the White Nights season and see a ballet at its world renowned Mariinsky theatre for which we had bought tickets well in advance and we were facing the possibility that after months of careful planning, preparations and anticipation we would have to miss St Petersburg all together.  Not to mention the financial loss that we incurred due to altering our itinerary and re-booking the flights.  
View of Doha from the plane
Anyhow, there was no point of crying about it so we took a deep breath and made a couple of executive decisions.  Number one, since we were stuck in the Middle East, we would try and make the best out of it and second, we would contact our travel agent and ask him to once again re-book our tickets and forgo Moscow completely in favour of St Petersburg.  Once we made up our minds, I felt much better and was really looking forward to explore what this part of the world has to offer.
Downtown Doha
We decided to spend a couple of days in Qatar and then fly to Oman for a couple of days since it was the only country to which we could fly directly and quickly and so our Middle East adventure had begun.
Downtown Doha
The next morning, after a quick breakfast at the hotel Kempinsky, we went downstairs to seek the advice of a concierge about what sites should we visit.
Downtown Doha
His immediate suggestions were The National Museum of Qatar and also The Qatar Museum of Islamic Art.  Armed with his advice, we stepped outside into the 46 degrees heat.  I got my first impression of this dry land was from the plane and now staying in the middle of the totally deserted street, all I could see around us was just a jungle of tall skyscrapers, expensive cars driving by and the shimmering glare of the desert beyond.  
Outside The National Museum of Qatar
It was so hot so walking around was out of the question so we hastily got into an air conditioned cab and asked him to take us to our first destination, The Qatar Museum of Islamic Art.
Outside The National Museum of Qatar
The museum is built on an island off an artificial peninsula on one end of the Corniche, a several kilometers a water front promenade extending for several kilometers Doha Bay, near the original dhow harbour and hosts over 14 centuries of the Islamic Art.  We spent quite a few hours there admiring the vast collection of arts and crafts, exhibiting high artistic skills of ancient artisans.
Outside The National Museum of Qatar
The next day we took a taxi to see the The National Museum of Qatar.  As the taxi drew nearer, we were spellbound by the innovative architecture that was applied in building this museum.  The structure looked so light and delicate that it looked like being suspended in mid-air and at the same time effortlessly blended into the surroundings as if it has always been there.
The National Museum of Qatar
We spent a few very interesting hours walking through its halls that spread over 1.5 km and then took a taxi home.
The National Museum of Qatar
And of course, you can't be in Middle East and not visit a souk and so we did but I found it underwhelming in comparison to the souks that we have been to in Morocco a couple of  years ago.

The National Museum of Qatar
The two days that we spent there were a true revelation.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Doha and learned quite a lot about life, culture and traditions of people Qatar.

The following day we left Doha and flew to Muscat, the capital of Oman.

Till the next post

xoxox
Anna










































Tuesday, 18 June 2019

IT'S HOLIDAY TIME

This year I am taking my South African born husband back to my routs, ie the town called Odessa situated on the Black Sea in Ukraine, previously known as one of the 15 republic of USSR and now is an independent country.  The reason for this trip was an invite to a 50th birthday bash from one of the close friends of my youth, who like me left our beloved city but while I chose to live in Australia, she and her family settled in New York.  It was such a great opportunity to reunite with all my friends whom I have not seen for over 25 years and who now live in USA, Canada, Germany, Israel etc that we didn't take time to hesitate before we said "yes".
We are making a slight detour and first visiting St Petersburg and Moscow and after staying in Odessa for a week, will gravel to Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, another one of the former republics of the USSR famous for its food, wine and Caucasus mountains followed by a quick trip to Istanbul and then all the way back home to OZ (see the map).

So if everything goes according to plan, we will be back later in July.  I will try to keep you posted, so please follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Love to you all

Until then,
Anna
xoxo






Sunday, 9 June 2019

EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WORLD OF FASHION

EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WORLD OF FASHION
I would like to open this post by making a disclosure:  this post is purely editorial, I have not worn this outfit anywhere except for this photoshoot and frankly speaking I can't envisage an event where I would be wearing it in the near future.
EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WORLD OF FASHION
I just wanted to bend a few rules and canons of fashion, throw a lot of different elements into the mix and see what would come of it.  As a result I am wearing a casual over-sized slouchy top adorned by an over-sized necklace of big sparkling stones which I bought in Sorrento Italy with a pair of torn cropped jeans and underneath those jeans there are fishnet stockings.  The final touch is the high heel two-tone evening shoes made by none other than Manolo Blahnik.
EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WORLD OF FASHION
I can't say that I don't like the look.  On the contrary, I think it has attitude that shows that everything goes in the world of fashion and all the rules and boundaries have been smudged and ignored which appeals to me a lot.  Whether I succeeded to convey it to you, my dear friends, I let you be the judge.
EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WORLD OF FASHION
I don't offer wear this necklace, the last time I fashioned it for you here was quite a lot time ago so I thought it's time to get out again.
EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WORLD OF FASHION

EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WORLD OF FASHION

EVERYTHING GOES IN THE WORLD OF FASHION
I am wearing:
Jeans - Zara
Top - Sportsgirl
Shoes - Manolo Blahnik
Glasses - Valley

Love
Anna
xoxo