Let the adventure begin
11.02.2018 - 12.02.2018
Sunday 11th February 2018
Premier Inn, Heathrow
Our second attempt at travelling to Oman (being hospitalised with pneumonia saw us cancelling this same trip last year) starts with an overnight stay in a Premier Inn at Heathrow. We do enjoy getting our holidays off to a leisurely start, especially when we have an early morning flight the following day.
At the Thyme restaurant, we enjoy a nice dinner, a few drinks and in my case, a bit of eye candy in the form of the cute Spanish waiter, Pedro.
Grete: “I am enjoying the view”
David: “You are old enough to be his grandmother”
Oh well, a girl can dream...
A nice fruity cider
David prefers the regular apple flavour
Firecracker noodles with chicken - delicious
David's chicken escalope with sweet potato fries
David looks lovingly at his liqueur coffee
Monday 12th February 2018
For some reason I never sleep well the first night away on any trip, and this one is no exception.
FlyDrive Meet and Greet
The car is covered in frost as we make our way from the hotel to the terminal building at Heathrow. We have booked a Valet Parking service, but struggle to find the right entrance to the parking area. As we pull off the main road, there are three gates leading to the car park, but only the one barrier on the far right leads to the floor we need to be on, something we realise too late. After the expensive mistake (£4 charge to get out after driving around the 2nd and 3rd floor realising we are in the wrong place), we drive around the block twice before finally locating the right entrance. Third time lucky.
The car parking people were supposed to have called us half an hour before our expected arrival time, but they didn't; and when we try to phone them, the line just goes dead. To add insult to injury, when we do finally find the attendants on the 4th floor, they have no record of our booking. This does not bode well.
Heathrow Terminal 2
We leave the car with them and check in for our flight, then head for some breakfast.
While taking my order, the chatty young waiter asks if I want to add some “beans, bacon, massage..”?
“Massage? Ooh, yes please!”
“Sausage madam, sausage”
Oh dear, you can't take me anywhere.
Scrambled egg and smoked salmon. Not a sausage (or massage) in sight
London - Istanbul
The plane carrying us on the second leg of our journey from Heathrow to Istanbul appears to have been built for midgets, as I don't even have room to put my legs straight, they have to go either side of the backrest in front.
At the Security check in Istanbul, the guard asks me where I am going.
“Where is that?”
“You are going to Oman? On holiday?”
Istanbul airport consists of long, seemingly endless, corridors, with no information boards to indicate which gate we should be heading for to catch our connecting flight. We finally reach the food court, and as we have plenty of time here (we deliberately caught an earlier flight from London as we have missed connections a few times in the past), we grab a bite to eat and drink at the amusingly named Tickerdaze Restaurant.
Chicken fajita at the front, David's mixed fajita at the back. Very nice they are too
Istanbul - Muscat
We strike lucky on the flight from Istanbul to Oman, snagging a complete row to ourselves, meaning we can spread out with a spare seat in the middle. There is also a bit more legroom on this plane, making for a much more enjoyable flight.
First we join a long queue to purchase our visa, then for immigration. At least the line is shorter than the one for the 'pre-arranged visas', which consists mainly of migrant workers, predominantly from the Indian subcontinent. Apparently, 800,000 of the 4 million inhabitants in Oman are Indians, something that has influenced the Omani culture (especially food) much more than I realised. More about that in future blog entries.
Surprisingly, there are no questions about "how long", "where", "why" etc. when we get to the immigration counter; we sail straight through to the baggage reclaim area where our luggage is already waiting for us. It is all very civilised, and once we're through the X-ray, our driver is waiting to take us to our hotel in Muscat.
Al Falaj Hotel, Muscat
The hotel is expecting us and once we've completed the form and they've copied our passports, the porter shows us to our room. It is now 03:30, but as we are both wide awake, we break open the Duty Free rum and raid the minibar for Coke and Pringles.
Welcome to Oman.