Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Muscat, Oman
Sep 2, 2011, 6:44 a.m.
3 p.m. You may have spotted them from a distance the previous day. Now it's time to climb up to the al-Jalali and al-Mirani Forts, accessible only via a steep step. Get access permission from the Heritage Ministry at the Museum of Omani Heritage. The twin forts once served as bastions to defend Muscat's harbor. The Portuguese bolstered the already existing fortifications during their occupation in the 1580s.
5 p.m. Bring home an Arabian gift from Bateel (www.bateel.com), a gourmet dates company which offers filled Segai dates with caramelized pecan or date chocolates with nougat pistachio, a silver khanjar (curved traditional dagger)from the souk costing between 30 rials ($77.9) to 500 rials, or a kuma, a handmade woven hat which costs around 30 rials.
If you have bigger pockets, purchase a fragrance from luxury perfume house Amouage (www.amouage.com), produced from frankincense, musk and other oriental ingredients.
7 p.m. Before packing your bags, enjoy a dinner at Mumtaz Mahal ("beautiful palace"), an Indian restaurant located on the hill behind Qurum Natural Park.
The best time to visit Muscat is between November and March, when maximum temperatures range between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius. The Shamal, a dust-laden wind, blows from March to August.
($1 = 0.385 Omani Rials)
(Reporting by Martina Fuchs, editing by Paul Casciato)