• Travel Stories
  • Bahla Fort: A World Heritage Site in Oman

    We often overlook the obvious places to visit where we live. I have lived in Oman for years but only visited Bahla Fort early this year. Bahla Fort is one of the historic fortresses situated in Oman and the only listed UNESCO World Heritage fort of the country in the year 1987.

    The fort is believed to have been built between 600 years ago by the Bani Nebhan tribe who were dominant in the area from the 12th to the 15th century. The construction is made of mud and straw bricks cooked at a very high temperature. The fort was put on danger because it was decaying rapidly after each rainy season. It was restored for over two decades and opened to the public in the year 2012. 

    It is comprised of three different buildings known as Bait  Al Jabal, Bait Al-Hadith and Bait Al Qaed.  It has walls, wells, mosque, and towers meant for defensive purposes those days.

     

    Entrance at Bahla Fort

     

    I love taking photos on the Arabic door!

     

    Open space inside the fort

     

    The sample of mud and straw bricks

     

    Bahla Fort is huge. You can easily get lost and wander for hours.  You can climb the towers and go the stairs and enjoy the attic room and wide spaces of the fort.

     

    You can have a photo op session on the stairs

     

     

    The only thing is, there is little information provided unlike to Nizwa Fort which is filled with great exhibits about Oman culture.

    Bahla Fort is located in Bahla which is 2 hours drive away from Muscat. It is easy to find. Simply follow the signs going to Nizwa and follow the directions going to Bahla afterward. It lies along the main road and quite huge that it cannot be overlooked.

    It is open every day from 8 am until 4 pm except Friday afternoon.  The standard entrance fes is 500 baisa (.5 omr). The best time to visit the fort is around October until April of the year. 

     

    I went mid of the year, little sweaty but manageable.

     

    Are you planning to visit Oman? What are the things you want to experience?  Let me share my suggested itinerary on my upcoming blogs.

     

     

  • Expat Life
  • An Introduction to Indian Cuisine

    India is one of the places I want to travel someday. I am amazed by the rich cultures and traditions of the country. While waiting for the right time to go there, let’s discover their culture by satisfying our taste buds through Indian cuisine.

    Oman being a diverse country has a lot of Indian restaurants to try. But for someone not familiar with the food, it can be quite confusing and intimidating. If you’re experimental and wanted to try Indian cuisine for the first time these definitely should be on your list:

     

    Samosa

    The Indian’s version of empanada in the Philippines. It is triangular in shape and can be baked or fried. It is not spicy but can be spicy too. It is the readiest to eat Indian food as it is found almost everywhere even here in Oman. It is a snack made of potato with onion and peas. It can be minced chicken or lamb.

     

    Pakora

    Pakora is a fried vegetable like eggplant, potato, onion, cauliflower and chili peppers. It is like tempura.  It is appetizing and perfect for starters. It is also perfect for munchies for snacks.

     

     

     

    Chutney

    Chutney is a sauce that can range from sweet to savory. It is any sauce featuring fruits, spices, and vegetables. Coconut, pineapple, and almonds are some of its variants. I love the coconut chutney! 

     

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    Naan/ Paratha

    Naan is a round fluffy bread that is oven baked. Most of the restaurants will offer a variety of versions with different stuffing and flavors. Paratha is whole wheat flour on the iron board. Both can be eaten with chutney or any other dishes.  I  love the cheese and garlic naan! 

     

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    Chicken korma

    If you want something mild and creamy, try chicken korma. Chicken is being braised in a sauce made of coconut milk, butter or yogurt plus some spices.  It is bit sweet and slightly smoky from the cumin and other spices. This is best for those who cannot tolerate spicy food.  

     

    Biryani

    Biryani is a dish made of long grain rice, spices with either vegetable, chicken, or mutton on it.  It is one of my favorites, delicious and everything you need for in the main course.

     

    Chicken Tandoori

    If you love chicken barbecue, this is something to try. Chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices overnight. It is roasted traditionally in a clay oven called tandoor.

     

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    Lassi

    It is a yogurt based drink made by blending the yogurt with water and Indian spices. I like the sweet lassi blended with sugar or fruits. So far I like the coconut and mango lassi.

     

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    Mango Lassi

     

    Indian food is full of flavor and variety. I think the good thing about Indian food is, there is something for everyone. You can ask for the heat level of the food you will be ordering as hot, mild or maybe not spicy at all.

    Trying out different food is one way of learning the culture of one’s country. So far,  I’m loving the Indian food! If you are in Oman, you can try Begum’s Indian Restaurant. It is so far the best Indian food I have tried. 

     

     

     

     

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    Have you tried going to an Indian Restaurant? What did you order? Share on the comments below.

     

  • Travel Stories
  • Alila Jabal Akdhar: Your Relaxing Escape in Oman

    Are you craving for a relaxing staycation for the weekend in Oman? Then why not reserve a room at Alila Hotel in Jabal Akdhar. Alila Hotel located in the central section of the Al Hajar Mountains that offers guests a gateway to the area’s incredible culture, traditions and nature. This rugged mountainous region is one of Oman’s most visited tourist spot due to it its impressive landscape.

    The hotel offers a modern and luxurious stay overlooking the exotic mountain.With an altitude of 2000meters, it is a perfect place to relax and retreat away from the city.

    Exotic look of the hotel

     

    Lobby area with a big fireplace

     

    Decor in touch with Arabic culture

     

    Dates and coffee to welcome the guests at the lobby

     

    Pool area with a great view of the mountain and canyon

     

     

     

    THE ROOM.  I stayed in the Horizon View Suite. What first struck me is the glass doors leading to the balcony where the view of the cliff and mountain is spectacular.

    The Horizon View Suite

     

    Interior of Horizon View Suite

     

    Welcomed with fruits and desserts!

     

    The interiors are classy and elegant made of local accents and modern amenities including a freestanding bathtub, WIFI, and a flatscreen TV. The room is made of local stones to showcase the traditional Omani architecture.

     

     

     

    The view from the terrace

     

    A perfect place to have your sip of tea

    THE FOOD. The Juniper Restaurant serves sumptuous international and Middle Eastern food. I only ate at Juniper Restaurant, and the meals are delicious.The breakfast is also served here.The Rose Lounge also serves drinks and snacks. But let me remind you, it is not cheap. All food is subject to 17% government tax and service charge.

     

    Who doesn’t want to have their breakfast with this view?
    My all-time favorite- avocado toast!
    Mezze Plate

     

     

     

    Traditional Omani food for dinner

    THE SERVICE and FACILITIES.  During my stay in the hotel, I found that there was always someone from the staff nearby in case you need assistance. The staff is approachable. From the time, I arrived at the hotel, someone helped carry my bags, and while waiting for the room to be ready, staff welcomed us with their traditional coffee and dates.

    If you opt for some adventure,  the hotel has activities catered for all types of travelers. There is an activity if you want to learn how rosewater is made, but unfortunately, it is only available in April and May when the roses are in full bloom.

    The hotel has an infinity pool, an indoor pool, fitness center and a spa that offers Asian style therapies.

     

    Indoor pool at the hotel

    Alila Jabal Akdhar is recommended for leisure tourists who want to enjoy a luxurious stay in Oman. It is 2.5 hours away from Muscat and it is only accessible by 4WD.

     

     

    Have you been to Alila Jabal Akdhar? How was your experience? Share in the comments below. 

     

  • Travel Stories
  • Colmar: A Fairytale Village in France

    Part of my European trip was visiting the little town of Colmar. It is a small town located in France Alsace region. It is very close to Germany and Switzerland. A 2 hours car drive from Zurich is all it takes. That time I went there, the day was drizzly and grey but it didn’t stop me and my sister with my brother in law from wandering around the town. I personally don’t know a lot about this place, but I was wholly awed by how pretty it is. I felt I was into the pages of a fairytale!

    Streets are dominated by half-timbered houses!

     

    It’s like a picture postcard moment in every corner!

    The small French town looks like a preserved medieval village with the traditional half-timbered houses, overflowing flower pots and little canals. It has a blend of German and French architecture. This town that was founded in the 9th century has a sunny microclimate, and it is one of the driest cities in France., making ideal for Alsace wine and of course a setting for a perfect getaway.

    Colorful Colmar, isn’t?

     

     

    Colorful pots!

    Getting Around:

    The small town is best explored by foot.  All of Colmar’s attractions are concentrated in its old town. You can also take the green train if you don’t want to walk.

    Top Sights and Things to Do:

    Little Venice

    The little corner of the city with small canals reminiscent of Venice, Italy. It is the most picturesque area in Colmar. You will also find lots of great restaurants around this area.

    St. Martin’s Church

    It is a Roman Catholic church built in 1365 and it contains gothic architecture.

     

     

    As for gastronomy, Colmar has lots of restaurants. Alsace is known for its pastries.

    Let yourself be drawn to the beautiful atmosphere.

     

    When I went there, I tried the most famous Alsatian dish- Tarte Flambee! It is called  Flammekueche in Alsatian or Flammkuchen in German which is the Alsatian equivalent of pizza. It is made up of a thin layer of dough covered with cheese, onions, crème Fraiche (rich sour cream) and bacon. The crust is crispy.

     

    Tarte Flambee. I love it!

    By the way, if your goal is to visit as many countries, I recommend visiting Colmar. It is a good place to add to your list if you are visiting Germany and Switzerland.

    My time was not enough. I would love to come back to Alsace and explore more in depth! For now, this is it!

     

    What can you say about Colmar? Share in the comments below. 

     

     

  • Travel Stories
  • Layover Guide: Brussels, Belgium

    On my way from Barcelona to Zurich during my Europe Trip, I had a short 10-hour layover in Brussels, Belgium. There’s a lot of things to do at the airport. There’s a lot of shops and restaurants around. Wifi access is available at the airport in all waiting and most public areas, but if it is more than 4 hours, then I suggest to get out and explore the city. The city is quite easy to navigate, and the major sights are accessible. Just make sure to allow yourself enough time to get through customs and security on the way back to the airport.

    When I arrived in the city from Barcelona, I took a train directly from Brussels airport into the city center (Brussels Central Station) in under 30 minutes. It cost 15.2 EURO/ 6.9OMR/ 913 PHP/ 18 USD.

     

     

     

     

    Things to Do:

    Visit Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

    You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the beautiful art and architecture of Brussel’s churches. Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is on Rue de Bois Sauvage 15, just in the heart of the city. It is free to enter the church and 1 euro for the archeological site.

    Eat Belgian Chocolate and Fries

    A trip to Brussels would not be complete without trying the chocolate. The country is very well known for chocolates. I tried Pierre Marcolini which is one of the top shops in Brussels for chocolates, macaroons, and eclairs. One of the best chocolates I have tried. It is expensive but worth every cent.

    Belgium is famed for its frites (fries), and you can grab a bag anywhere on the streets. Belgian fries are fried twice which makes it crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

     

     

    Stroll across the Grand Palace

    A UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is the main attraction in the city. It is surrounded by a maze of winding streets dominated by the Gothic splendor of the town hall which dates back to 15th century. Grand Palace is Brussel’s main market square which is a great place to hang out.

    Visit Royal Palace

    The Royal Palace is the official palace of the King and Queen of the Belgians in the center of Brussels. It is open to the public every summer. From July till September the palace can be visited free of charge. The visitors can have access to certain rooms like the Mirror Room.

    Watch the Manekin Pis

    Not far from the Grand Palace, you can find the Manefin Pis fountain which is another popular attraction in Brussels. It is a tiny statue a kid having a piss, and a lot flock on it as it is a symbol of the national humor. Jerome Duquesnoy designed him and usually statue is naked, but sometimes he gets dressed.

    Bargain Hunt at Place De Jue Balle in the Marolles

    If you are in awe of antiques, kitchenware, paintings, and props, this is the spot to go. The market takes place every day, and there are a lot of items to see. It is where people sell their old stuff, and it might be the best way to find a unique souvenir for your friends back in your country.

     

     

     

    Have you ever been to Brussels? What did you do?