Spring break feels almost like a distant memory now that the summer holidays are just around the corner. This holiday, like most of my time off from work, was filled with travel. I only had a weekend trip to Bahrain over the winter break; so I think I went a bit overboard for spring break. The original plan had been to have a four-night city break in Bucharest, Romania. Somehow that changed after watching a travel series that was featuring Salalah, because some friends and I ended up booking a two nights stay there a few days later.
Salalah was the first leg of the holiday. Arab colleagues had told me that there was no point going to that part of Oman over the spring break. They suggested that the main highlight of Salalah is the transformation of the normally desolate landscape into a lush terrain, and that this is best enjoyed in July and August. However, the main aim of the visit was to relax. Our accommodation was to be at a seaside resort.
The flight to Salalah was only an hour and twenty minutes long and originated from the Al Bateen Executive Airport. This was a very hassle-free experience as the airport, being located in Abu Dhabi City, is extremely easy to access. Additionally, being a smaller airport that handles mainly domestic and short-haul flights, check-in and security clearance was a breeze. The airport in Oman is similarly small and easy to navigate.
A rental car had been pre-booked, which was especially handy for us as our hotel was located an hour outside of Salalah. After a few directions from the guy at the rental office we made our way to the hotel.
We spent most of our first morning relaxing by the pool, and the occasional walk along the beach. It was so soothing to listen to the waves crashing on the shore, something I miss living along the gentle Abu Dhabi coast. In the afternoon, we ventured into the nearby town of Mirbat for lunch. Being a Friday, what we found was a very sleepy town with only the sole supermarket open. It felt like a ghost town driving through those empty streets. The highlights of the brief ‘lunch’ trip were taking pictures of the old castle and stumbling upon a cemetery. The mostly roughly hewn headstones in the cemetery were tightly packed across the burial site. Some had beautifully intricate Arabic calligraphy, while others were left plain. Together those markers with their jagged grey edges pointing to the sky created a feeling of somber stoicism, which set the tone for the handful of mourners who were present.
The following day, just after breakfast, we set off in the direction of Salalah. We were not long into our drive before we stumbled upon a caravan of camels. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the way they ambled slowly across the road making their way to the shore to get water. It reminded me of some pedestrians in AD City. We continued leisurely towards Salalah stopping along the way to see a few of the sights that were highlighted on the map we had picked up at the hotel’s reception desk. We stopped by some caves, a sinkhole and tried unsuccessfully to find the exact location of the anti-gravity road (where cars supposedly roll uphill when placed in neutral). The last one was perhaps what I was most interested in seeing as everywhere else involved heights, something I’m not that keen on experiencing. I didn’t really mind if we’d found any of the usual tourist spots, as driving through the Omani countryside is always such a treat for me. I love being surrounded by the hills and mountains because they remind me of home.
We arrived in Salalah in the late afternoon and drove around the town. By this time, the traffic was starting to build. The main stop in the town was at the local museum. Here we learned about Oman’s maritime heritage and the importance of frankincense production and trade to the country. We ended our day with lunch at a local restaurant.
I really enjoyed this trip. I think the fact that it was unhurried with no real touristy agenda set made it that more relaxing. I would definitely return to Salalah as I would like to see the change that occurs in the summer.
I recommend Salalah, Oman for those busy educators who are simply looking to relax with a quick getaway.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- If you fly Rotana Jet from the Al Bateen Executive Airport, parking for up to seven days will cost only AED100.
- Before arriving in Oman be sure to have your accommodation details at hand to fill in on the immigration form.
- I would advise that you rent a vehicle if you are looking to explore the area on your own. I would also recommend renting a car if, like us your flight arrives late at night. Don’t worry, if you drive in the UAE, you will be more than able to cope with the driving in Oman. It’s slightly less hectic than what we’re used to.
By Richie Chin