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To Nizwa

21st December

We drove 125 km to Nizwa. On the newly built dual carriage way, it took us a little less than 2 hours. The traffic wasn't too heavy, but if I go one km over 120, the car sounds a penetrating beep, which doesn't stop until I slow down. The majority of private cars were doing well over the speed limit, and if I was in their way, they sat on my rear bumper until I let them pass. This meant that I often got stuck behind slow moving trucks, which I didn't like at all!

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Once there we found a huge, almost empty car park outside the entrance to the old town, so we parked and headed for a coffee, and a look at our guide books. In the 6th and 7th century, Nizwa was the capital of Oman, it is famous for its huge fort; the largest of many in Oman, and its splendid souk. By now it was 12.45, and the souk, we learnt, shut at 1. So we went to visit the fort.

This is how it looked in 1959 when the RAF bombed it during the Jebel Akhdar war over access to Oman's oil wells.

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And today....

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They were crafty builders of forts in Oman, and must have given us the word "pitfall". Behind each door up to the top of the fort, there were holes in the floor, normally covered with wooden planks. But if the enemy came up the stairs, the planks would be removed and he would fall a dozen metres into a pit. That is if he had survived the boiling date molasses which had been poured on him from above, before he got to the door!

By 2 o'clock we were hungry, and found ourselves a shady table at a little café where there were plenty of locals. We had wraps and lemon and ginger juice all of which was excellent and cost just £2 each.

We walked back to the fort, mainly to visit the loos, and then discovered we had missed a big part of the fort. Especially the palm gardens. These reminded me very much of the parks in Elche, and it seems that here the palms are free of the terrible red beetle plague.

Donkey in the Shade

Donkey in the Shade

It was still too early to visit the souk, which was due to open at 4, so we wandered the back streets looking at the enormous project to renovate the old houses. There were noises of hammering and grinding coming from many of the ruins, and one or two almost finished houses to show what it might look like one day.

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At 4 the gates of the souk opened, and we entered full of expectations, only to have them dashed! On Saturday afternoons, it seems, very few of the stalls open up. So we had a very quick wander, pleasantly surprised by the lack of pushy salesmen. They were very friendly, said hello and asked us how we were, and left it at that. Perhaps they have learnt that pushyness doesn't pay?

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There were several spice stalls, but judging from the price of £2 for a small packet of black pepper, no bargains to be had.

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The area is famous for circular mats:

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And silver jewellery....

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And daggers for the men:

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So, then back in the car, and the long drive back to Muscat. On the outskirts of Muscat we stopped to fill up with petrol, and were pleasantly surprised to find that diesel is just 50 pence a litre.

Posted by AnnieBusch 09:53

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Comments

You seem to have left the rain behind. I must say the fort at Nizwa is very impressive. They certainly don’t do anything by halves, either in the reconstruction of the buildings, or the punishments metered out for the enemy. Quite spectacular I thought, burning molasses and a long drop into the pit. Martin Scorsese could do a lot with such an image.
I’m waiting to see what will tempt you on the retail front. The circular silver items looked too big to be bracelets. Perhaps you will come back with a long flowing garment of some sort.
Continue to enjoy,

O

by Jeanbrowne

Enjoyed sharing this visit with you. You may be able to turn that speed warning off in the menu, or have you returned the car now?

by Johnash

Late in reading this but did so with great interest. Try to avoid the "pitfalls" Annie!

by lafuentedulce

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