23rd Dec 2011 - 1st Jan 2012
On the 23rd December we flew to Khasab, which is the most northern town in Oman and on arrival booked in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel situated on a cliff top overlooking the Straits of Hormuz. After settling into our room we relaxed by the pool before going for our eveniing buffet meal. The hotel was decorated with Xmas Trees, Gingerbread House and had Carols playing all day.
Christmas eve day saw us taking a Dhow trip to the local coves and on to Telegraph Island, which used to house people operating the telegraph system in the 50's & 60's. We cruised into surrounding bays followed by bottle nosed dolphins racing the boat. On our return we saw our first sight of fast speed boats carrying Iranian smugglers that had travelled the 55km across the Straits of Hormuz to collect cigarettes, electrical goods etc, to take back to Iran. They made this trip twice a day and had the task of avoiding the police custom boats. In the evening we enjoyed a gourmet dinner, where even Santa made an appearance, much to Jo's delight!
Xmas day morning saw the usual opening of presents and after breakfast we spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool. The evening was spent enjoying an A La Carte meal followed by phone calls to family to catch up with their Xmas day festivities. The following day was spent going for walks on the beach and surrounding area. On the 27th we returned to Muscat to prepare for our next trip on our friends new 33ft boat for our New Year adventure.
On the 29th we met John & Carol at Bar Al Jissah marina where their boat was moored and after unloading our stuff on the boat went for an excellent sea food bonanza at the Hotel before returning to the boat for a good nights sleep. Jo and I slept on the top deck under the stars.
The following morning was an early start, but not before tucking in to a hearty breakfast. We set sail heading North to Mussanah, 80km up the coast and hugged the coast all the way so we could take in the sights, including the Sultan's beach palace, Sultan Qaboos Port, The Wave Development, Blue City and the Daminyat Islands. 3 hours later we arrived at the Millenium Hotel marina and moored up for the night. That night we went to the hotel and ate a really good meal in their Moroccan restaraunt and then returned to the boat for another night under the stars.
The dawn of the 31st heralded another early start as we headed back towards Bar Al Jissah and Sifah. However, the sea conditions got gradually worse and John and I struggled to keep the boat under control in the turbulent 3 metre waves, so we made the decision to leave the boat at BAJ and take the cars to Sifah through the mountains. This was not before we had to pull into the marina at Bander Al Rowdha to refuel, where we took advantage of getting much needed coffee and bacon sandwiches.
We booked into Jebl Sifah Hotel, with another friend Amanda joining us for the New Years Eve Gala Dinner. It was a fantastic evening with all of us enjoying pre-dinner champagne before tackling an excellent 6 course meal, whilst accompanied by a trio of spanish guitars. We were all provided with goody bags of party hats, party poppers, spray snow etc. and after toasting friends and family at midnight we all went back to our room where we drank on the balcony before finally retiring to bed at 4am!
The start of New Years day was rather a jaded affair, where we all met for breakfast at 10am wearing dark glasses. Afterwards Amanda left to attend the Royal Horse show leaving the rest of us to spend the day by the pool, sinking a few more drinks (hair of the dog!) with our lunch and then checking out late to head for home and an early night!
A truly fantastic holiday break with some great friends.
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