berlin day 1


The European leg of our trip was all-of-a-sudden staring us in the face when we woke up in our Airbnb on our first full day in Berlin. We were feeling a unique mixture of emotions; for one, we had reached the half-way point of our around the world trip… We were in an unfamiliar place, yet the feeling of being somewhere completely new and different had become… familiar? Newness was no longer "new" to us, so we set out in stride on a sunny day in Berlin to do what we had been doing for months now: making the most of every glimmering moment that all together compose this halcyon blip in our lives. 

Our first stop of the day was an epic flea market that takes place weekly in Mauer Park, weather permitting… And damn was the weather permitting on this particular day; it was downright gorgeous and Berliners everywhere were tilting their smiling faces to greet the sun on its first appearance in what must have been a pretty long time. After drifting through lively aisles full of impulse-buys-waiting-to-happen, we settled on a treat for the tastebuds instead… Currywurst and fries were the stars of our day on the town and a heap of aioli was the supporting act. Yum. 


A bit of research revealed that we would be in Berlin in time to see a temporary street art installation called Wandalism. The converted auto warehouse seemed proud to show off its new wardrobe of pieces by some of the best local and international artists around. A subculture injection was the perfect way to round off a beautiful day 1 in Berlin.


muscat to berlin


Two photos that represent the vast difference in surroundings that one long day of travel can provide. Leaving Oman behind, we landed in Berlin via an Istanbul layover to start the European leg of our trip. The door welcoming us to our quaint AirBnB in hip Kreuzberg perfectly represented what we would come to love about Berlin.


oman road trip day 7


We awoke on the final full day of our road trip to another breathtaking cliff-side campsite atop Jebel Shams. The evening before we had an unforgettable front-row seat to the daily light show; the surrounding peaks cutting the suns' setting light into razor sharp beams cast like a ceiling over the valley below. Our main activity for the day was descending from the high elevation area along a rugged gravel track through Wadi Bani Awf. We breathed a sigh of relief when we finally made it to the bottom, as this stretch was the most serious test of our 4x4's capabilities we would encounter - and luckily Addie didn't pee her pants from fear of falling off a cliff. That night we set up camp early and toasted to an incredible time in Oman with the last of our now beloved airport vodka and lemon mint juice cocktails.


oman road trip day 6


The final few nights of our Oman road trip treated us to some of the best camp sites we might ever have. On the evening before this day we had camped on the edge of Wadi Ghul, a crevice that is commonly known as the Omani Grand Canyon. In the morning we set off on the Balcony Walk, a 3 hour trek along the edge of the canyon that terminates in an abandoned village perched a thousand feet above the wadi bed. Perhaps more spectacular than the rugged views was the complete solitude we were able to enjoy for nearly the entire trek. Oman really is the place for world-class outdoor adventure in the absence of world-class crowds. 


That afternoon we stopped in Al Hamra at a small museum called Bait Al Safah; a traditional old Omani home that has been preserved to offer a glimpse into what life looked like in this location for centuries. We enjoyed learning about the process of making Omani bread and other common household products, and then conversed with our guides over coffee and dates, sharing stories about each others' lives. Each conversation we've had with locals and tourists alike throughout our trip continues to reinforce the understanding that the human condition and life is the same at its core; it's only the small peripheral details that differ around the world.


oman road trip day 5


Oman is known for a multitude of forts and battlements, dating back centuries and distinct in their architectural tradition and cultural significance. We visited Jabreen Castle near Nizwah, originally built by Sultan bin Saif al-Ya'arubi in 1670. The structure provided an interesting view into life and war in middle-age Oman. A favorite tidbit: The castle had a cellar for storing heaps and heaps of dates. The piles of fruit would release date oil under their own weight, which was collected via grooved channels in the floor. In times of peace, the oil would be used to cook in the kitchen, and in times of war it would be heated to a boil and poured on invaders via small slits in the castle passageways. Ouch.


Later that afternoon we took a walk through the scenic village of Misfat al Abriyyin. Once again we enjoyed wandering through the surrounding date palm plantations, and walking along the falaj systems to see where their meandering paths might take us. 


oman road trip day 4


We rose before the sun on what would be our only morning in the Wahiba Sands so we could hike up the dunes in front of our camp. We wanted to catch the sun rising over the undulating formations that stretched for miles, and were not disappointed by the resulting visage. The slanted light illuminated the dunes dynamically, and morning fog could be seen bubbling out of distant vales. After we descended back to the camp, ate a breakfast buffet, packed, and prepped to check out we were treated to one of our favorite moments of the desert stay. An owl appeared suddenly on the desk in our room (no clue when or how he had entered), and we both got a few seconds to glimpse the gorgeous bird up close before it flew out of our open front door. It was perhaps a good omen for the rest of our Omani road trip, which we promptly returned to after driving out of the desert and refilling our tires in town.


Another gem discovered in our Oman Offroad book was a moderate trek through cliffside villages in the mountainous area of Jebel Al Akhdar. The route took us through 3 scenic cliffside villages, one of them known for producing some of the highest quality rosewater in the world - and we were lucky to find that the rosebushes along our hike were in delicious bloom. This was also one of our first real encounters with functioning falaj irrigation systems. The ancient technique helps villages distribute the precious resource of water throughout terraced cliffside plots owned by various families or individuals. The resulting setting of the area is a stunning juxtaposition of large, fertile green steps suspended over a jagged, mountainous expanse.


oman road trip day 3


Wadi Bani Khalid is another must-see stop we planned to check off on this road trip. This particular canyon should probably be pictured in the "oasis" entry in the encyclopedia; date palms and other flora surround deep emerald pools within the protective grasp of large rock walls and boulders. The wadi becomes even more visually appealing further inside the canyon walls where the water flow has cut deep, narrow and impossibly clear pools in the rock bed. We found Wadi Bani Khalid to be a most refreshing detour and one of those places where it is impossible to take a bad photograph.


Exhilarated by our idyllic dip in the wadi, we headed towards our accommodation for the evening, Safari Desert Camp, deep within the Wahiba Sands. We checked in at the camp's office in Bidiyah (a town right outside the sands) where they deflated our tires to ensure better traction on the 10+ mile drive through the desert to camp itself. Having already had the experience of being rescued by a group of friendly Omanis after lodging our car in the sand trying to find a camp site on the beach just the night before, we were both pretty apprehensive about this drive. However, our 4x4 proved its capabilities as we aggressively surfed the hills and valleys on this well packed desert track, and our nerves gave way to enjoyment on one of the most exciting drives we'd ever taken. We arrived at the camp's picturesque group of tents and modest buildings nestled between sky-high sand dunes, and were greeted with omani coffee and dates. We quickly settled into our cute Bedouin styled room with an attached open-air bathroom, and then headed out on a camel ride to catch the sun setting over the dunes behind the camp. 


oman road trip day 2


Early on the second day of our road trip we had our first true Wadi (a valley or river that often only flows after heavy rains) experience at Wadi Shab. This valley in particular is one of the most popular with locals and tourists alike due to its beauty and incredible conditions for swimming. A 30 minute hike gives way to a sequence of highly swimmable, clear turquoise pools. Upon reaching the end, those willing to swim a bit further through a narrow passage in the rock are handsomely rewarded with a waterfall cave of otherworldly beauty. It was unlike anything we had ever seen and is certainly a must-do attraction in Oman.


After a refreshing swim in Wadi Shab and some exciting off-roading around Wadi Tiwi, we made our way down the coast toward our second campsite near the town of Sur. The area is famous for a tradition of building a kind of boat called a Dhow, which stemmed from its strategic location for trade in ancient times. Although the construction of Dhows has slowed down in modern times, there is still a boat yard where they build these beautiful vessels according to tradition, and without advanced tools or even technical plans. Even more, the boat builders and yard masters welcome respectful tourists to come into the work area and check out the ongoing projects. After getting permission to look inside, we clambered up the makeshift scaffolding and got a peak into the gorgeous ribcage and inner-construction of an in-progress Dhow.  


oman road trip day 1


After a couple of days checking out Muscat, it was time to embark on the main event: A week-long road trip through the northern part of the country. Now is a good time to mention the reason this road trip was possible, the sacred tome: Oman Offroad. This legendary book includes a vast wealth of information that shockingly cannot be found anywhere in the deep vaults of the internet. The book surpassed all of our expectations and was directly responsible for one of the best weeks of our lives; we cannot recommend it more highly for anyone road tripping through Oman. One of the first gems it revealed to us was this picturesque view over the Ruwi area of Muscat.


Our first campsite of the trip: Fins Beach. While shooting this photo we could see Omanis swimming along the rocky shore behind us with headlamps, most likely engaging in some kind of night-time fishing. We never quite figured out what they were doing but it was certainly surreal to see their beams illuminating swaths of brilliant turquoise water well after midnight. The next morning we woke to breakfast and great conversation with a French couple that was camping nearby. We were off to a great start.


muscat day 2


Ready for a bit of physical activity, we were excited to walk a moderate trek called C38 through the surrounding volcanic rock outcroppings that dominate the natural environment of the city. The route, running from Riyam Park to the Mutrah area, includes some amazing views of the Riyam Park Monument, the modest ruins of a defunct village, and a walk through a Wadi bed. We emerged in Mutrah, an older area of the city that provides a pleasant view into everyday life in Muscat.


We enjoyed this street scene near the Mutrah Souk (a famous traditional market in Muscat). Cruise ships now dock nearby the market so it is getting more touristy; but one can still find interesting trinkets, gifts and dirt cheap delicious sambusas to snack on in its labyrinthine confines.