We Booked the “Big Bus Tour” for seeing Muscat last night at the Hotel and at the same time got the receptionist to telephone the bus company to confirm what time the bus would be along at our local stop; 10.10 hrs they said but suggested we get to the bus stop about 5 minutes before in case the bus arrives a little early.
So after a hearty breakfast we strolled to the bus stop arriving around 1000 hrs and waited, and waited, and waited. Fortunatly there was another couple also waiting and they knew this was the corret stop as thay had used the bus the previous day and got off at this same bus stop. After some time we rang the bus company only to be told the 10.10 had been cancelled and the next would be at 11.10. It actually arrived at 11.20, anyway it arrived, straight upstairs and sitting in the open we looked around at the various sites and with our ear (supplied) ‘phones plugged in, listening to the commentry. Our next stop was about 25 minutes away.
The sun was shining brightly and it was warm but there was a natural wind, in addition to the wind caused by the bus speading along. The next minute I saw some paper floating accross the bus and onto the street and to my horror realised it was our tickets, blown out of my top pocket and they had to be used for hopping on and off the bus: Oh dear what ever else is going to happen to me!!!!! Nothing we could but would tell the driver when he stopped.
At the next stop many people were getting on including a “Big Bus Company” rep who we asked if she could give us duplicates, to which she said no! In fact she said we would have to leave the bus if we couldn’t find them. I said we were not getting off as we had paid and that we had had a traumatic morning as the bus that should have come didn’t and we wasted over an hour etc., etc. At this this point the family sitting behind us jumped in and also moaned about the total lack of organisation by the company as they had also suffered. Now there were 6 people agreived, about 65% of the bus ( it was not very full!) so she went off and made a ‘phone call. After a few minutes she came back and gave me a piece of paper which acted as a ticket and told me not to lose it, another good result! Whilst all this was going on we noted in the “Big Bus Company” brochure, it stated quite clearly that if you could “NOT PRODUCE A TICKET YOU HAD TO LEAVE THE BUS”, oh well we overrode that rule!!!
We did the compete 2 hour circuit listening to the interesting commentry, and seeing the sites, well the few that were worth watching. Apart from old Muscat, a small area surrounded by the mountains where the Sultans Palace and the Ministry of Finance are situated, Muscat is very spread out and very new. The nice thing is the total lack of sky scrapers, unlike many other cities in the Middle East, the sultan has decreed nothing can be taller than eight stories. In fact the tallest building in Muscat is the Air Traffic control Tower at the airport!
Now for a bit of History; There have been may wars etc., in the area throughout time but modern Oman started after the breakup of the Omani Empire when it was broken into two in 1861; Zanzibar with its East African dependencies and Muscat and Oman. Things stayed prety much as they were until this current Sultan deposed his Father in 1970, when he was 30, and got hold of the country by the scruff of the neck. Realising oil was a diminishing comodity and to survive in the modern world he had to get an infrastructure in place and introduce other business’ and new technology, which he has done very successfully over his 43 yeas of absolute rule. It will be interesting who will be is heir as he has no children!!! During this period he changed the countries name to “Oman”, being shorter he probably thought it rolls off the tounge easier!!!!!
We stopped off for lunch at the beach and being Saturday, everybody was out and about taking in the sun etc. Where we stopped there were a number of Cafes and Restaurants, even a Starbucks and we finally decided to eat at Pizza Express, on the decking and overlooking the sea, it was very relaxing. We then went onto the beach and as the sea was warmish and reasonable we went for a paddle, though the waves were quite big.
Back on the 3.30 bus we carried on. We didn’t get off at Old Muscat as we had missed the walking tour and we had walked around there the day before. The bus stopped for a number of ‘photo opportunities along the way eventualy getting back to the start point just in time for us to catch the 5 pm and last bus that went via the stop nearest to our hotel.
After a leisurely shower and change, we went down to dinner and after much thought, decided to go back to the Indian we went to yesterday. Last nights food was far too much so cut down to one main meal between us, a whole, but small leg of lamb; again extremely moorish but we had to ask for a doggy bag as yet again it was too much food; tomorrows lunch?
Last night to-night but nowhere to go as the Hotel is not well situated and besides where can one go, not for a drink!!!!!