Thursday 30 November 2006

Oman: the Al Bustan and wrinkles

Readers with greater memory powers than I (i.e. goldfish and upwards), may remember that we won a prize of a night at Muscat's premiere hotel, the Al Bustan Palace Hotel at a ball in September. So with cat sitters arranged, we checked in to bleed the place dry for 24 hours.

We headed straight to the beach which appeared to have a minimum age requirement of about 60 years. As I glanced around I noticed an over-tanned lady trying to preserve her dignity while getting changed under a towel, without success. I shuddered. Men in unnecessarily skimpy Speedo costumes strutted around while golf carts ran around the beach, presumably to pick up bodies that had not moved for several days. I felt most uncomfortable. Mrs M snorked while I picked the bones out of some very poor Arabic language material.

Later as the sun set behind the mountains, we indulged in a nice cup of tea on the balcony, accompanied by a tin of over-priced peanuts from the hotel shop. I would have used the gym, but it was temporarily located in a larder on the 5th floor.

That evening we dined at the Al Khiran Terrace restaurant,……'an informal, contemporary lounge….[where] we take you around the world with [culinary] theme nights spanning…..etc, etc'. I love hotel blurb. The Italian buffet was impressive, directed by the Head Chef, Jean-Luc Amann, who we met in Washington at the Smithsonian festival just before we left DC.

After dinner we walked along the beach in the rain. Yes, rain. People scurried from the beach-front restaurant and bar as chunky raindrops plopped from the sky. Well, we enjoyed it but I am sure most of the customers were not expecting this.

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