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Leg 2 - Zurich (Switzerland) to Muscat (Oman)

Swiss International LX242 - Airbus Industrie A330-300


View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

Leg_2_-_Zurich_to_Muscat.png

Depart: Zurich CH (ZRH), 12th Feb 2013 12:45 Central European Time (GMT+1)
Includes Stop (30 minutes): Dubai (DXB) 12th Feb 2013 21:40-22:20 Gulf Standard Time (GMT+4)
Arrive: Muscat OM (MCT), 12th Feb 2013 23:20 Gulf Standard Time (GMT+4)
3,184 miles (7 hours 35 minutes)

Our plane being de-iced before take-off at Zurich Airport

Our plane being de-iced before take-off at Zurich Airport

From the snow and ice of Switzerland (it dropped to -23 °C on top of the mountains at Jungfraujoch) to the endless sun of Oman (it reached 32 °C in the desert at Wahiba Sands), this flight was to see the biggest contrast in temperatures of my entire trip.

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Oman Tagged flights Comments (0)

A Concert by the National Symphony Orchestra

A night of opulence at the Royal Opera House Muscat

sunny 22 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

I reached Muscat just before midnight after a 7.5 hour flight from Zurich. There was about an hour long stop over in Dubai where most people got off and the cabin was noticeably less formal once the flight was resumed.

Downtown Dubai from the air

Downtown Dubai from the air

It seemed to take an age to get my 20 Omani Rial (about £35) "Visa On Arrival" and get through passport control but eventually I emerged in the Arrivals Hall to be met by my cousin Sally and her husband Dave.

My visit coincided with a one date only visit by the National Symphony Orchestra from America to the new Royal Opera House in Muscat.

The Royal Opera House Muscat

The Royal Opera House Muscat

The building is stunning architecturally with no expense spared, obviously an attempt to get a bit of kudos over the neighbouring gulf states! The entrance hall feels particular opulent and many people wanted their photo taken by the bottom of the main staircase.

In Muscat the Royal Opera House is some where to be seen and mingling amongst the audience waiting to go in with us we saw UK TV presenter Michael Parkinson.

Main Staircase at the Royal Opera House Muscat

Main Staircase at the Royal Opera House Muscat


Me on the steps of the Royal Opera House Muscat

Me on the steps of the Royal Opera House Muscat


Sally and Dave at the Royal Opera House Muscat

Sally and Dave at the Royal Opera House Muscat

Although they were not so keen on photos being taken in the main auditorium it was equally stunning and we had a box right next to the stage, probably the best seats in the house although it felt we were a bit on show!

The Auditorium of the Royal Opera House Muscat

The Auditorium of the Royal Opera House Muscat


The Stage at the Royal Opera House Muscat from our Box next to the Stage

The Stage at the Royal Opera House Muscat from our Box next to the Stage

The conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra was Christoph Eschenbach and they performed Beethoven's Egmont Overture and Mozart's Turkish Concerto in the first half with Dan Zhou on violin. For the second half they played Brahms's Symphony No. 2 in D Major. The acoustics were brilliant and from where we were sat we could see every section of the Orchestra.

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in Oman Tagged buildings concerts opera_houses Comments (0)

4WD Rustaq to Misfat al Abreyeen

Rock and Awe in the Western Hajar Mountains

sunny 30 °C
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With rocky mountains and sand dunes, 4WD excursions are a must in Oman and the drive from Rustaq to Misfat al Abreyeen over the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains is one of the most spectacular in the country.

Our journey began with a 1.5 hour drive north to Rustaq where we stopped to see the hot springs in front of the mosque at Ayn al Khasfar. We then began our drive into the mountains up Wadi Bani Awf and were given a taste of what was to come when we were stopped by a man holding a red flag while they blasted the rock high above us building the road.

The Hot Spring in front of the Ayn Al Khasfar Mosque near Rustaq

The Hot Spring in front of the Ayn Al Khasfar Mosque near Rustaq


Waiting for the green flag while they blast the road through Wadi Bani Awf

Waiting for the green flag while they blast the road through Wadi Bani Awf

The "road" we were climbing up was never more than a dusty dirt track and often just bare rock with a steep drop on one side. About an hour into our drive we had an interlude of a brief stop at the picturesque village of Balad Sayt with its terraced paddy like fields.

4WD is essential when climbing the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

4WD is essential when climbing the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains


Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains


The road ahead climbing the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

The road ahead climbing the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains


The village of Balad Sayt in the Western Hajar Mountains

The village of Balad Sayt in the Western Hajar Mountains

We then continued our climb as the road twist and turned up the Snake Pass, this was not a drive to go on if you are scarred of heights! Every now and then small whirlwinds of dust known as "dust devils" would form and disappear near us. An hour later near the top we passed the dramatic Sharaf Rocks before finally reaching the summit at the Alamayn Viewpoint.

Looking back at the road we had just climbed

Looking back at the road we had just climbed


Dust Devil forming on the road near us in the Snake Pass

Dust Devil forming on the road near us in the Snake Pass


The Sharaf Rocks near the Alamayn Viewpoint

The Sharaf Rocks near the Alamayn Viewpoint


Me at the Alamayn Viewpoint at the top of the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

Me at the Alamayn Viewpoint at the top of the Snake Pass in the Western Hajar Mountains

At the top it turned colder with the wind and we had the relative civilisation of "black top" (i.e. tarmac) roads all the way down the far easier other side. Part way down we stopped to walk around the village of Misfat al Abreyeen, said to be one of the oldest in Oman and looking like it was unchanged since the time of the Bible. It also contained one very noisy donkey whose "hee-hawing" could be heard minutes before you saw it!

Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Misfat al Abreyeen Village


Mud Brick Houses in Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Mud Brick Houses in Misfat al Abreyeen Village


Mud Brick Houses in Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Mud Brick Houses in Misfat al Abreyeen Village


Donkey in Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Donkey in Misfat al Abreyeen Village

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Oman Tagged mountains animals 4wd Comments (0)

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