Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One-year Anniversary in Oman!

One year ago, the kids and I landed in Muscat to join Joe and begin our new life.  Wow!  What a year!

Here is the list of the top ten things I miss about living in the US, in no particular order.

1.  My older kids, family, and friends-- that one is pretty self-explanatory.
2.  Being able to call my family or friends at any time of day-- with the 9 or 10 hour difference, I really have to plan my phone calls.  
3.  Wider parking spaces-- not really sure why the parking spaces are so narrow here.  
4.  Sweater weather-- although I don't need six months of it, like in Chicago!
5.  My favorite clothing stores
6.  American football (mainly Austin)
7.  Online shopping!!-- and free home delivery.
8.  The ability to run a quick errand without worrying if my knees or upper arms are covered
9.  Reliable Internet
10.  Hobby Lobby!  And Target.

And here is a list of my top ten favorite things about living in Oman.  Again, in no particular order.

1.  Sunny, blue skies almost every day-- I never get tired of the sunshine.
2.  The ocean I get to look at every day.
3.  The mountains in the background and all the beautiful scenery
4.  Household help-- very common here.
5.  My friends from many different countries
6.  All the bling and colorful clothing (this is more with all my Indian friends)
7.  Camels!
8.  A new realization that not everyone thinks like Americans do
9.  Travel!-- I have traveled more in the last year than I have in the previous ten!
10.  The growing ability to distinguish a British accent from an Australian or South African  :)

I am really enjoying my time in Oman.  If you ever find yourself with an opportunity to live in Oman, do it!  You won't be sorry.

I am looking forward to the next year and all the new adventures it will bring!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wanda Goes to Salalah--Part 2 (Wanda's Believe It or Not!)

Okay, I am finishing up my Salalah trip!  There are some more interesting things to see.  And will you believe??

On this day, my first trip was to the Gravitational hill.  I was driven to a spot on the road, and my friend put her car in neutral and took her foot off the brake.  The car started moving, on its own, backwards and uphill!!!
I know this is poor video.  My apologies.  You can tell we are moving backwards, though hard to tell we are going uphill.  My friend said it was because of strange gravitational forces in the area.  I Googled this, and found that there are several such spots in the world.  But some people scoff and say it is just an optical illusion.  Well, I was there.  It certainly did not seem like an optical illusion.  Believe it or Not!

I was taking the picture of the camel crossing sign and the scenery, but you can see the road was going uphill.

On to our next destination.  My trip was in late September, at the end of the Khareef season.  Here are some mists, rolling in.  It was perfectly sunny just five minutes away.

We went to look at the sea.  There were warning signs telling you not to swim.  Umm, I don't think I needed the sign to keep me out of the water.

These rough seas are typical in the Khareef season.

Oman has 'smoky mountains' too! 

These are the blowholes of Mughsail.  Nothing too mysterious or controversial about these.  The sea water shoots under this rocky outcrop, and comes up the holes.  I came at a good time, still during Khareef.  At their highest, these sprays of water can be about 100 feet high!

You can see the crashing waves just a little bit down the coast.
Well, you just saw the water.  These two men weren't afraid of the crashing waves and managed to catch several large fish.

Here is my final attraction of the day.  Nabi Ayub is the Arabic name for Job.  This is the sign for Job's tomb!!!  The Job.

I find this sign so fascinating.

I think when we imagine what Job's tomb to be like, we might picture some grand cathedral or monument, as we might see in Europe.  This was a very modest site.  There is an old mosque on the grounds.
This is it.  Job's tomb.  Can you see how long it is?  Job is said to be nine feet tall with very large feet.
I don't know how well you can see this sign, hanging in the tomb.  It lists the Old Testament genealogy.  It is very similar to what a Christian Old Testament genealogy might look like.  Job is in the red circle on the left.  Of course, ours would not have Mohammed on the right!

Job's prayer garden

And this is supposedly Job's footprint.  It is about 18 inches long!  I understand there are four places that claim to have Job's remains.  Whether you 'Believe it or Not', this was still a very interesting place to see and well worth the drive.

The surrounding views

These nests were on the property.  They belong to yellow weavers and hang on these thin branches.  There is a hole at the bottom, and you can see the weavers feeding their young through the hole.

Not exactly desert.

Would you 'believe' this old carriage was just sitting off the side of the road?  :)

Here is Salim, whose uncle if of the '100 camels for me' fame.  A true story about Salim.  One day Joe and his other colleague were on their way to meet with one of the ministers (government, not religious minister) in Salalah.  They are trying to get some more infrastructure out to the quarry site.  Right before they left, Salim sprayed them with perfume.  He said, "You will be more highly thought of if you smell good"!!  Good to know.  :)
I had a great time visiting Salalah.  I am looking forward to going again.  I want to see the remains of Queen of Sheba's palace.  Believe it or Not!

Monday, October 21, 2013

And Paris!

We spent the second part of our Eid holiday in Paris.  It was only a smooth 2 1/2 hour train trip from London.  We checked into our hotel and headed off for our evening tour. 

The tour began with a river cruise on the Seine, starting at the base of the Eiffel tower.

This is the Musee D' Orsay.  See that big clock?  I will show you the view from the other side of that clock, later on in this post.  

Notre Dame!  I just love the color of the sky at this particular time of the evening.

One of the many bridges we passed under.

This was probably my favorite moment in Paris.  The whole Eiffel Tower was sparkling!  It happens every hour, for a few minutes.  Magical!  This picture does not do it justice.


We went up to the second platform, not all the way to the very top.  This was the view.
I couldn't resist inserting this picture of my beautiful mother, Celin.  This picture was taken around 1971, the first time I went to Paris.  I wanted to try to reproduce this pose, but we were there at night.

This is the lobby of our hotel.  It was a darling boutique hotel, so well-decorated.  These white human figures were painted somewhere in each guest room, and along the elevator wall.  But, the rooms were pretty small.  Standard for Paris, so I am told.

We only had one full day in Paris, and we wanted to get the most out of it.  Here is Marie, our tour guide, taking us around the Montmarte area.  Marie was pointing to where Van Gogh lived and worked.

Marie is showing us an actual painter's studio, close to where Van Gogh's was.  All the big windows were facing north.

Marie is showing us the actual spot where Renoir painted Bal du Moulin de la Galette.  What was so neat is that we later saw the actual painting in the Musee D' Orsay!

This is a statue of a character from a very famous children's story.  This character had the ability to walk through walls.  But he was not a good guy, and was punished by being stuck in the wall!  Legend says that if you can free him from this wall, you will receive his powers.  I don't think Joe was yanking hard enough.

Now isn't this what you imagine Paris to look like?

This is the Sacre Couer.  As churches go, it is not that old.  But the views from this church are amazing!

Even in the rain.  This church sits at the top of the hill, and can be seen from all over Paris.
The Musee D' Orsay.  This museum used to be a train station and parts of the movie Hugo were filmed here.  We saw lots of wonderful Impressionist paintings, including Van Goghs, Renoirs, Monets, ect.  There was also a miniature Statue of Liberty, one of four found in France.

As I promised-- the other side of the clock!

That is actually the Louvre across the Seine.  We just didn't have time for both.

France just doesn't have enough money to renovate all of its old building.  One way they are raising money is by charging millions of dollars to the right to advertise.  This is one of the biggest billboards I have ever seen.

Oman is everywhere!  We saw the gun at the Tower of London and now this poster for an Oman exhibit in one of the museums.

Now for our tour of Notre Dame.  Construction began in 1066 and took about 120 years.

Pictures were allowed in Notre Dame.

A little hard to see, but I was trying to photograph some of the gargoyles on the side of the cathedral.

The Arc de Triomphe

We climbed up 275 steps, with no stops, to the top. 

Just walking around the neighborhood around our hotel.  The weather cleared and it was a beautiful evening.

We spent the last morning of our vacation at the Luxembourg Gardens.  Another wonderful display of fall colors.
So ends our Eid holiday.  Now back to Salalah!