On our second day, we took the sightseeing tour offered by the Big Bus Tours. Found this as an easier way to move around following our own pace. We hailed the bus at its first stop in Muttrah Souq from which we headed to our first destination of the day: a compound of churches and temples in Ruwi. Although not as beautiful as I have imagined (Oman is still a Muslim country, after all), it opened my eyes to how accommodating the sultanate is to its expat community.
Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church is pretty small compared to Dubai’s St. Mary’s, making it more intimate.
We were then dropped at Shatti Al Qurm which is a direct translation to Mangrove Beach. It is a high-end mixed use development popular to expats. Didn’t see any kabayan though.
The highlight of our day’s tour was our visit to the Royal Opera House Muscat. I’d love to see a performance but unfortunately, there’s no scheduled production during our 3-day stay, so we opted to just look around. We were advised to enter through the rear side of the building (wherever that is as there were more than one building in the compound). As we pushed the door to get in, an ambient music welcomed us. The sophistication of the gallery made us feel underdressed in shirts and jeans.
From one exit, we had a glimpse of the garden inviting us to go out.
The opera house, that is quite blinding in white, is of modern theme accentuated with traditional windows and furniture.
One cannot enter the main building unless you’re visiting to see a show. We charmed our way inside but we’re only allowed in the jaw-dropping lobby.
Then we headed back to Shatti for lunch, from which we left to see the rest of Muscat onboard the big bus. As what I’ve said earlier, the name of this area means mangrove beach in English. This explains why it was named like that.
The joy ride continues and we had a quick stop (well not so quick because we’ve been waiting for more than half an hour to a bus that we thought would never come) on a cliff of sort that says Sidab Street and offers this magnificent view of the marina.
Another 20-minute ride and we’re back in Muttrah. We explored Muttrah Souq‘s shops and dark alleys before calling it a day. For the last two days, we traveled from our hotel to the corniche passing by the souq and I never thought that its busy-ness during day time will grow exponentially at night.
And my favorite part of the souq goes to its colorful skylights adding more life to this busy and charming old market. Detailed with teapots, khanjars and traditional jewelry, the ceilings of Muttrah Souq speak of Oman’s culture.
Check out the rest of my Muscat Series: