Embarking the Silver Wind in Muscat
Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
– Henry Miller
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Sunday, April 5, 2015
After 29 hours of travel, including three flights and stops in two airports on two separate continents, my Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul touched down at Muscat Seeb International Airport in the Sultanate of Oman shortly before two this morning. By the time I reached my hotel – the Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Muscat – it was closing in on three in the morning. It was a long journey, but worth it to reach Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind for her fascinating voyage through the Middle East.
Getting through customs in Muscat was surprisingly easy, even at two in the morning. A Visa-on-arrival program is in place for travellers from 65 different countries. Five Omani Rai gets you a 10-day visa, and a lot if scribbling in your passport. Unfortunately, the automated machines only take Omani Rai, which funnels a hefty portion of business to the nearby Travelex Exchange counter who will relieve you of any currency you may have – for a small commission, of course. You can also pay there by credit card.
At every step of the way, the Omanis I dealt with were kind and courteous. Some are dressed very traditionally, while others wear western-style pants and the white-collared shirts that seem to be ubiquitous with hotter climates. I asked my driver how much rain Oman gets; he told me he couldn’t remember the last rainfall. “Maybe one year, one year and a half ago?”, he questioned as we sped through the night to the Shangri-La. “But when it rains here, it pours. Everything floods. Last time, the whole city shut down for three days.”