Day 35: National Sports Day and Traveling to Oman!

I’ll be traveling to Muscat, Oman next weekend for a 4 day trip to visit the capital city, see The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, and go canyoning. I’m incredibly excited to do some traveling, and see the Arabian Sea. There is a neat history of fortresses on the Omani coast, and most of the architecture is only a few stories high so the city spans the coastline. I’ll be sure to post many pictures next weekend.

This past week there was a national holiday on Tuesday: National Sports Day. It was the 5th annual event, with a main goal of getting people outside and active during the temperate climate. There were literally hundreds of events throughout the city, ranging from yoga to beach volleyball to a professional cycling event. In Education City, there was a sport I’d never seen before… It was described to me as “Sound Ball,” but it is actually called Goal Ball. It’s a common Paralympic game, where 3 “blind” players protect an oblong goal as an opponent rolls the ball at them. The 2.8lb ball has 9 holes and multiple bells inside it, so the players hear the thud of the ball and the bells, then react to stop the shot. The most essential part is that the entire gym is dead silent watching the game! It was neat to see the men make split second saves with loads of padding on- I’d recommend watching a quick video.

I joined some of the American students and made a team for the basketball tournament. Although we lost by 1 point- on an extremely controversial foul being called as time expired, and a banked in 2nd free throw- it was still a great day! The weather was beautiful at 75* and sunny, and there were a few thousand people in Education City watching and participating in the events.

As classes start picking up I’ve had less time to get to the inner city, but I managed to go to The Pearl, a manmade luxury island. We went to a new arcade complete with a dart lounge, a private billiards and snooker hall, indoor golf, and F1 racing simulators. At $100/hr, the golf simulator was a bit too pricy for my tastes. Then we went to a nice waterfront Armenian restaurant for dinner, where I had a lamb dish with a fresh cherry topping. It might be my favorite dish here thus far.

So I enjoy seeing nice cars, and The Pearl is the place to be if you want to see some expensive vehicles. On the walk to dinner, I saw 3 Mercedes AMG’s, an I-series BMW, an M-Series BMW, a handful of Maserati’s, and about 37 Porsche’s. The cars here are incredible and most of them are customized to the finest details. The day before, I had the chance to ride a brand new, custom Porsche Cayenne GTS. Words can’t describe how well the car looks, accelerates, and handles. The craziest part is how many top-of-the-line cars there are here.

Back to food…Friday night I went an authentic South Indian restaurant. It’s vegetarian and the dishes (I’m not going to even try the name translation) were tasty. I’ve attached a few pictures. We got stares from every patron as Americans don’t frequent the restaurant. These experiences are always fun, as everyone watches our reactions trying the food they grew up eating every day.

I’m hoping for some warmer weather here, as we’ve had a cold stretch in the 70’s. Although I think I’m hoping for 85* a little less than Scranton is hoping for temperatures to stay above freezing. This week is Discover America Week in Doha, so I may be volunteering at a few events teaching locals the basics of football and baseball. For Spring Break, I’ll be hopping around a few countries. I’ll be in Istanbul, Turkey, then off to Athens, Greece for a day and night, and finally in Italy where I’ll visit Rome and Venice. I can’t wait to get out and see some more of the world, especially Turkey! I’ll trying to take more pictures and post on Facebook.

It’s 3:30AM here now, and I have a 10AM class. I think I should start my homework. I hope all is well back in the States! ‘Night!

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A street sign in The Pearl. I had to take another picture since I took a picture of this same sign last year on my IMPAQT trip.
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Shisha at a restaurant in Souq Waqif
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All I know is it was really good thin bread, coconut based chutney, and a potato mixture. Delicious!
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A vegetable rice dish with plain yogurt and onions on the side. I accidentally ate the Spicy bark, which apparently I wasn’t suppose to do. My mouth burning for the next 5 minutes was enough of an explanation for why I shouldn’t eat the bark!
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