Well mother and I didn’t make it up for the white party, but it was nice to wear my Dishdashah to dinner nonetheless. We booked at one of the nicer restaurants on the ship, Chops, and had a fantastic steak-a-thon. I somehow got very drunk and don’t remember how the evening ended, but mother said nothing spectacular happened since we were in bed by 10:30. Alas!
But day two in my favorite little town was majestic. We walked back to the souk and I got mother into the silver store where she began to shake with excitement. It really was a site to be seen, silver from floor to ceiling: picture frames, handbags (yes!), jars, boxes, incense holders, fish, conch shells, canes and of course jewelry. Sadly silver is at an all time high these days and the sweet Indian man said he is hardly selling any of it since it is just so much pricier than usual. I was dying for one of those articulated catfish with turquoise eyes (my great aunt had some and Vreeland had piles at her Park Avenue home) but they weighed in at $480 a pop. Sigh. Mother quivered over a rococo designed purse that also went for around $500. Double sigh. But we found some bits and bobs before heading onto the next spot.
It was a great time to be at the souk since the tour buses hadn’t yet arrived so the vendors were not at their peak screech level trying to get you into their stores. It was mostly local families buying spices, clothes and perfume. We spent some time in an Indian gold shop where I bought piles of bindis and bangles for my upcoming Bollywood themed 35th birthday. The owner of the store was dazzled that I had real Indian friends in New York City and that I was buying these things for an Indian party. I asked if he worked at the store for long and he proudly raised his hands and said, “I come from south India and this is my store!” Then bobbled his head and smiled. Adorable.
Once we were souk sauced we headed next door to this little dive where I ordered a fresh squeezed lemon, mint drink that was beyond refreshing, then headed to the cab area where we asked a driver to take us to The Chedi. He has just Frankincensed his car and it smelled like the Holy Roman Empire in that little thing!
The Chedi is one of those hotels that you just go to. It’s on the ‘must’ list of jet setters if one is in Muscat so we did it. My friend Megan, whose family lives in Saudi but are from Texas said, “Oh Muscat? The Souk, the mosque, The Chedi, done.” See?
(fried cauliflower, baba ganoush, saffron rice and grilled fish)
It was a 30-minute drive through the most manicured landscape I have ever seen. This country has serious money. Every part of the highway was bordered with three tiers of pink, purple and white flowers, there were hedges cut into French formal garden shapes and massive sculptures, fountains and mosque every 10 feet. Neither of us could get over it. Especially if you remember this is desert world so all of those lawns and flowers have to have an underground irrigation system running through them.
The Chedi was a modern affair that reminded me a lot of the new W hotel in South Beach. Soaring ceilings, lots of wood and stone, fountains trickling out of pots. It really was a bit soulless, just another 5 Star hotel with posh people rolling about. But it was beautiful and I can see why it’s on ‘the list’. And the food! The food was a dream! Especially after days on that ship food. I felt like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, I savored every bit of hummus, every crunch of a dolmades, and every pop of a grapefruit slice over my grilled fish. We both experienced total gastronomy glow.
After rubber necking around the place for a bit we called a car and headed back to the ship. Our time in Muscat had come to an end. I cannot wait to come back. The ship sailed at sunset and we leaned over the railings and watched as the old town faded from view and the Sultan’s palace stretched along the coast.
(The Sultan's Palace)
We then dressed for dinner, headed to the champagne bar like we do every night where Suzy and Rusty (both Philippino, she is always freakishly excited to see us and he is a petite old school, fly swatting, queen) greet us and make mother some fruity champagne cocktail and make me a Knob Creek Manhattan. Hence how I barely remember the end of every evening. And they always give us half a glass full of more booze so one drink is really like two and a half. Everyone was in a spirited mood and looked so nice. Where are these people when I’m sitting poolside sandwiched between two whale monger Germans hacking and smoking?
After dinner we looked around the shops and all of a sudden I noticed some 10 foot blond German man staring at me. What? Oh! He was giving the ole gay cruise stare! He kept looking at things and then giving the coy slow head turn in my direction. How exciting! The old boys still got it! So I introduce myself and all of a sudden he is a babbling, shy mess who says he has to go because he has friends and family waiting on him. Clearly I’m not looking for love but he could of at least joined me and mom for a nightcap.
It was 10pm and I told mom we should really try to stay up just a little longer and have one more drink. She looked at me and just said, “Why?” Indeed. We were in bed at 10:30 after a photo shoot with our swan towel.
Tomorrow, a day at sea. My dream come true!