Middle East

We've really enjoyed exploring the Middle East. There's a rich history, amazing sights, and warm, generous people.


Countries We've Seen

Church of all Nations, Mount of Olives, Israel

An Olive Tree Grows in California

Olives for Sale at the Market in IraklionWe recently moved into a new home.  The house is pretty new and most of the work we’ve been doing is cosmetic.  The backyard, however, was another story.  …
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Ten Years Young! Number Five on our Top Ten Ancient Sites

In old age people tend to forget things.  And so it is that here at www.IanAndWendy.com we suddenly woke up and realized we had missed our tenth birthday!  That’s right – August 31st 2009 marked TEN WHOLE YEARS of www.IanAndWendy.com!…
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Wahiba Sands Tour, with Sunny Day Tours Oman

Wahiba Sands Dune BashingThe next day we had arranged with the same tour company (Sunny Day Tours) to go on a day trip to the Wahiba Sands. The Wahiba Sands are the closest dunes to Muscat (about a 2.5 hour drive) and this is where most of the tour companies go.…
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Qurum Beach, Muscat, Oman

Qurum BeachWe went for a walk along the Qurum Beach to watch the sunset. It was a lovely walk. Groups of young local boys had gathered on the beach with improvised soccer pitches to play some games.…
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Qurum Beach House, Muscat, Oman

Although we had originally planned to stay again at Marina Hotel (despite it being a dive, it was still a great location, and better the devil you know…) but the dive was full.…
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Majan Guest House, Nizwa, Oman

Curiously enough, there are no hotels in Nizwa itself. We ended up staying at Majan Guest House, a couple of miles outside the downtown area. It was very clean, the room was large.…
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Getting from Nizwa to Muscat by bus

Getting back from Nizwa to Muscat was easier than we thought. We had tried to arrange a ticket in advance on the government run buses, but apparently it’s not possible to buy tickets in advance for a trip like this (i.e.…
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Jabrin Fort, a great daytrip from Nizwa

Jabrin Fort, OmanFrom Nizwa, we took a day trip to Jabrin Fort. This fort is not really part of a town, and in the middle of nowhere. It looked like it might have been possible to get there by bus, but it would have involved a connection somewhere, and then finally a cab from the nea
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Al Zuhul Restaurant, great falafel in Nizwa, Oman

We ended up spending a lot of time at a good falafel place right across from the fort, called Al-Zuhul Restaurant. It was the Omani version of Sonic drive-in, where cars would pull up in the dusty parking lot outside, a waiter would run out and take their order, and then they would e
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Nizwa Fort and Nizwa, Oman

Nizwa Fort in OmanOur next stop was Nizwa. Nizwa is a small town about 2 hours outside Muscat, with a fort and a market. The fort is right in the middle of town, and has an excellent view of the surroundings.…
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Wadi Shab, the most beautiful wadi in Oman

Wadi Shab in OmanThe Wadi itself is a beautiful canyon oasis. The guide did not accompany us on the hike itself – he left us and arranged a pick up time.…
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Bimah Sink-Hole, on the way to Wadi Shab, Oman

Bimah Sinkhole seen on the way to Wadi ShabWe also stopped at the Bimah Sink-Hole (like a cenote), which was probably formed when the ground over an underground river to the ocean caved in.…
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Mokallah Beach in Oman

Mokallah Beach in OmanWe stopped at a couple of empty beaches (including Mokallah Beach) along the way. Although none of the beaches had established facilities, we saw many people camping along them – not a surprise, as the water was beautiful, and the coastline dramatic and in
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Driving from Muscat to Wadi Shab

The next day we took a tour to Wadi Shab. Wadi Shab is another top tourist draw for Oman. It is basically a canyon with an oasis in the middle, and with a hiking path through it.…
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Al Hamra Town, Misfat, oldest village in Oman

Misfat Al Abryeen villageIrrigation channels in the town of Misfat Al AbryeenOn the way back from Jebel Shams, we stopped at Al Hamra and the village of Misfat Al Abryeen. This is a traditional village “where time has stood still” (it is the oldest village in Oman).…
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Jebel Shams Tour with Sunny Day Tours, Oman

Our tours in Oman were arranged by Sunny Day Tours, Travels and Adventure, which is a company we found buried in the back of the Lonely Planet. Our guide was fantastic, his name was Qais Al Maashari.…
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Muttrah Souk in Muscat, Oman

Muttrah Souk in MuscatThe souk, about a 5 minute walk from where we were staying, has a lot of good handicrafts for sale, frankincense, myrrh, and all sorts of other tourist souvenirs.…
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Old Muscat, Oman

Incense Burner by Al Riyam Park We took a walk from Muttrah to Old Muscat. It took about an hour to walk along the Corniche to Old Muscat, and it was a very pleasant walk along the seaside.…
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Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Sultan Qaboos Grand MosqueWe headed straight out to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is open to non-Muslims very limited hours. The mosque was beautiful – one of the most beautiful mosques we’ve ever seen.…
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Marina Hotel in Muttrah, Muscat, Oman

Our hotel, the Marina Hotel, was in fantastic location overlooking the port and minutes away from the market, but the room was not very clean. In addition, starting at around 8pm, there is a loud disco going on till 2 or 3 in the morning.…
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Taxis in Muscat, Oman

Arriving in Muscat, the airport is very comfortable, and we were able to get money out and get into a cab easily. It turns out that despite clear directions, our cab driver took us to the wrong hotel, and when he finally took us to the right hotel, he tried to increase the rate.&hell
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Getting from Dubai to Muscat Cheap on Swissair

We took a short hop flight from Dubai to Muscat. We decided to fly instead of taking a bus because we were worried about crossing the border (the guidebook led us to believe there could be long delays).…
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Global Village and the Dubai Shopping Festival

Global Village in DubaiWe also visited the world market Global Village, part of the Dubai Shopping Festival. This is a huge shopping/theme park about an hour outside Dubai that can best be compared to the Epcot Center, but with much more of an emphasis on shopping.…
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Bur Dubai Souk and Karama Shopping Center

The Bur Dubai Souq, across from Deira and right next to the abra station (this is where the boats drop you off when you cross the creek) had some of the best deals we saw in Dubai.…
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Ibn Battuta and Deira City Center shopping malls in Dubai

The Ibn Battuta Mall in DubaiAnother mall we checked out was the Ibn Battuta mall. This mall is at the far end of New Dubai, so was a little costly in a cab to get to.…
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Ski Dubai and the Mall of the Emirates

Ski Dubai ski hillSki Dubai and the Mall of the Emirates is another must-see in Dubai. Despite being Canadian, we’d never actually been downhill skiing, but why not start in Dubai?…
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Madinat Jumeirah “souk” next to Burj Al Arab

Madinat Jumeirah Souk in DubaiRight beside the Burj Al Arab is Souq Madinat Jumeirah. This is a high-end shopping mall/”souk”, which is the cleaned-up, high price version of the souks elsewhere in the city.…
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Public Beach with great free view of Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Public Beach close to Burj Al ArabWe opted instead for viewing the outside from the public beach, about a 20 minute walk away. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful beaches, but all the ones close by are exclusively for use by hotel guests.…
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Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab, too expensive for usOne of the “must-see” for any visit to Dubai is the Burj al Arab, a beautiful tall modern hotel in the “New Downtown” of Dubai.…
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Exploring Sharjah, by bus from Dubai

Sharjah SquareOur next destination was Sharjah. Shajarh is actually another emirate, not too far from Dubai, but there are no highways and it is non-stop city. Without traffic, it would probably take only a quarter of an hour to get there, but traffic made it closer to an hour.&helli
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