Monday, December 3, 2012

Interior Trip-Itinerary of Nizwa Souq, Al Hamra, Misfah Al Abriyan, and Jabrin Castle (my own photos)

Over the long weekend a group of OPNO girls decided to take a tour/day-trip out to the interior. This is the most iconic shot of Nizwa that I managed to take. Got the walls of the souq, fort, AND Mosque in there and intolerably blue sky.
We actually decided to hire a car and guide and as usual had a good experience beyond the usual slection of questionable bathroom facilities that exist beyond Muscat. We left at 7 am to arrive at Nizwa souq just in time to see the Friday goat souq. Which we missed because we decided to watch a how-to-make-helwa video inside the fruit and veg end of the souq where Al-Saifi Omani halwa is sold (which local people not related to the vendor assured us is the best in Oman).
I like these window grilles.
You know you've been in Oman too long when you start to photograph green things that are of no interest to anyone who hasn't been here the same amount of time as you.
Two shots of the tourist-ey part of the souq. In the very back behind in the second photo you can see crumbling old Nizwa.
More architecture shots.
Lots of nice carved wood doors in Nizwa.
Our tour guide, Mohammed.
After sampling some perfectly spiced local tea (with cloves, cardamon, and rose water) we headed to the unrestored and highly local East Souq of Nizwa souq to buy Arabic coffee and spices.
The 'East Souq' in Nizwa is a little more raw and local than the general drop off point for the bus loads of tourists visiting the souq.
Leaving the East Souq to see about an antique rifle. But 400 OMR was too much for me!
Below, our guide "guided" us to the actually "Omani" and not just "generally Eastern" offerring of the souq, Bedouin blankets, Shawawwi rugs, brass coffee pots, and the dower chests called "mandoos"
And this isn't Omani but I just want one 'cuz it's pretty!
After Nizwa we drove down to Al Hamra and had traditional Qahwa with  our tour guide's family:
 Which was quite fruit and date heavy. After that we began the drive up to Misfah Al Abriyan.
We stopped half way up to photograph the drive up to misfah Al Abriyan.
Then we stopped at this lot of land belonging to one of Mohammed's lucky relatives to capture this veiw of the old village of Misfah Al Abriyan (which means apparently "the green place between the mountain of the tribe Al Abri":
From there we drove up to the Old Misfah. Which being that our tour guide was also a local of the village we had the benefit of being able to park where tourists aren't allowed to, and permission to go into some buildings and private spaces that others aren't welcomed. Pretty awesome.
Area restored by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture in partnership with some tourism initiative that is yet to kick off.
Walking down into Misfah is kind of surreal. But also, very tropical feeling.
The shua cooking area for the traditional Eid feast
This apparently used to the villages' local little grocery and goods store.
Our tour guide's ancestral home.
The old "Sabla" of Misfah Al Abriyan. This was like, the town hall or meeting place.
We stopped for tea and coffee (AGAIN) at the Misfah Guest House [a restored hotel that another OPNO girl had blogged about previously] and enjoyed a short rest and some stories about the village and culture:
Local women kept inviting us to come to their houses for lunch (since we were wearing abayas and some of the non-Muslim girls even courteously draped a scarp on their heads out of respect for the more conservative area of Oman) but we declined because such invitations would mean we'd be stuck inside all day and not see more of the surrounding sights.
Donkeys are still used in rural mountain villages to pack things up and down (including tourists' suitcases to the hotel lol).
Persian forts and watchtowers dot the village.
After Misfah we headed back down to the town of Al Hamra to see Bayt al Safa (Safa House), the interactive museum displaying traditional mountain rural life as our tour guide grew up with and like my own Omani inlaws are familiar with.
Inside Bayt Safa we were instructed how to grind flour, make butter, take oil from nuts, carry heavy object on our heads, roast and prepare coffee beans, bake Omani bread, and spin wool the traditional ways. Also how to apply Omani cosmetics such as kohl, henna, and sandalwood paste.
Here we were also offered coffee, tea, and dates again.
This is a rather bad photograph of our tour guide Mohammed. He's embarassed because I made him pose next to his name on the family tree hung in the museum. 
Looking out on the streets of old Al Hamra (which mean, "the red" obviously after the red bricks of the houses).

After we left Al Hamra we had a choice between Bahla fort and Jabrin castle, both by way of Bahla. We chose Jabrin though being I've been here and Misfah and Saf House before, Bahla castle would have excited me a lot more. Below is the map of Jabrin castle (if you are as prone to get lost there as I am):

Going into Jabrin:
On the ramparts:

Some interiors with their gorgeous painted ceilings:
After Jabrin we were starving and ate in Nizwa. We got back to Muscat at 7pm. Meals and admissions were included in the price and it was about 25 each for the whole day. I don't know his availability but our tour guide (and driver) Mohammed can be contacted at (968) 95350043 if you are ever bored over the long weekend like we were!


Boxie said...

I have to say I love this post :)

Anonymous said...

tour guide is a hottie.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Boxie: For sure when you come we'll see more in the interior. There's also Bahla castle to see, old Izki, Sumail stuff, the old old old Misfah (before this one although that is quite a hike off road), and a pretty nice mountain wadi.

Anon: lol.

Mustafa said...

when was this trip? It was a good chance to visit my farm and meet with my family..I'm resident in Nizwa farms.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Mustafa: It was two weeks ago now? The girls probably couldn't d that since all of us are married, and to Omanis. You know the culture right? Husbands in your culture don't like to make new aquaintances for their wives through anyone not female, ever;)

Mustafa said...

I meant with my wife. Anyhow I enjoyed your photos.
Did anyone notice Spongebob on one of the photos?

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Mustafa: That is very kind of you and her. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I really loved your pictures! I'm coming to Oman this week and I hope I can take a trip like that to nizwa (I've been before but only for a very quick drive around) I'm thinking of moving to muscat from europe and would so love to meet you sisters if and when I decide to settle. Perhaps we could exchange contacts because I think you can really assist me in what would be a BIG transition. Because growing up in the West then making such a change comes with many challenges. I really like your posts my favourite being confessions of a Co-Wife, so beautifully written and so detailed on many things people would be too scared to ask, so kudos to you sisters! Assalam Alaikum from cold, cold Europe!

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Anon form Europe thinking of making a move: For sure, just leave your email in the comments (I won't publish it) and I will email you back.

We do have a group email for the blog as well but everytime I post it we get spammed so bad so really I prefer emails just be left in the comments, and moderate so I don't publish them.

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