The Middle East
Our guide was eager to show us the new Sultan Qaboos Mosque. It is the 2nd largest in the world and is, most unusually, open to non-Muslims. It is BIG! Oman, like every other country in the area, is on a major construction binge. Something “new” opens frequently. We saw the newly completed Grand Opera House. Then, went to see the newly completed National Museum.
The funding source for all this “new” is the oil discovered in Oman. It is not a large oil field, but it is sufficient. Not only are large edifices going up, but Sultan Qaboos has purchased a new yacht. We thought another cruise ship was in port when we spotted her—she’s almost the size of the MS Amsterdam!
After viewing the 200 year-old Al Alam Royal Palace, we stopped at the Mirani Fort and harbor to take photos. The palace is surrounded by the Mirani and Jalali Forts, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
We ended the tour at the Mutrah Souq. It’s a pleasant place where the shops are “up” several steps to withstand the monsoon flooding that drains through the Souq. Obviously, the Souq is not the place to go if you’re trying to escape the deluge!
All-in-all, we had a lovely day. This was our second Muscat visit and yet we’ve never seen Muscat wine; only Italian Moscato. We will try to find out why at 1:00pm this afternoon when the World Wine Guys treat us to a tasting!
The wine tasting was a huge success. We sampled 3 still wines and 3 sparkling. All Moscato wines are sweet—some heavier than others—but every single one of them makes a good aperitif (perhaps with foie gras) or an excellent dessert wine (when you visit Florida, Key Lime Pie and Moscato pair well.) Of the six different wines we sampled, here are our favorites: 1.) Fontanafredda Moncucco Moscato D’Asti DOCG, a still wine, great for dessert. 2.) Cinzano Sparkling Asti, great for an aperitif.
And take note: wine is not produced in Oman. (Do any Muslim countries produce spirits, anymore? They once did because archeological evidence proves that is so.) Don’t know when the vines were removed. However, they made their way to Italy, Greece and some others. But Italy is most known for Moscato wines. It is traditionally an inexpensive wine.