Quote: Oman’s Biodiversity

Oman overall has great animal and plant biodiversity because it has mountains, desert, coastal areas and rich coral reefs.
Saadi

Savory Saturday: Omani Cuisine

I was fantasizing about someone booking a trip for me to Oman yesterday. It didn’t quite work, but I can at least cook a meal to transport me to the area, if I were to close my eyes (ps – I won’t handle a knife while my eyes are closed).

Chicken Maqbous

  • 1 WHOLE CHICKEN, cut
  • 1 TBSP BAHARAT
  • 2 ONIONS, chopped
  • 2 DRIED LIMES, cut
  • 1 GREEN PEPPER, chopped
  • 2 CLOVES GARLIC, chopped
  • 3 TOMATOES, cubed
  • PIECE OF GINGERROOT, grated
  • HANDFUL CORIANDER LEAVES, cut
  • 2 CUPS RICE

Stir fry the onion, garlic, limes and pepper for three minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with half of the baharat, add it to the onion and fry until brown on all sides. Add the tomatoes, the remaining baharat and gingerroot and salt to taste and bring to the boil; simmer for half an hour. Take out the chicken and put it under the grill for 15 minutes or so. In the meantime, add as much water as needed to the tomato sauce for the amount of rice. Bring this to the boil, add the rice and simmer for 20 minutes; add the coriander. Put the grilled chicken on top of the rice.

Yum YUM! Can’t wait to try it.

Fantasy Friday – Beauty has an Address: Oman

Yep – that’s the saying on the official tourism site for Oman. And wow, does it ever look beautiful there. I mean WOW!

Here’s my agenda, someone please book it for me? And pay? Thanks!

1. Bandar Khayran Reserve

This reserve is at a distance of 30-40 minutes by boat from Bandar Al Rawdha Marina, located in the heart of Muscat. The boat ride is made even more pleasurable with the accompaniment of some dolphins which swim alongisde the boats. As a visitor, you’ll enjoy seeing the rocky mountains and the white-washed small houses that overlook the majestic sea. You’ll also pass Al Bustan Palace Hotel and Barr Al Jissah Spa.

Coral reefs permeate the Bandar Al Khayran waters, considered home to many diverse organisms and fish. The place is abuzz with divers, especially with the presence of more than 22 diving locations, each with its own charm and beauty.

2. Hawiyat Najm Park

The park is situated in the Dabab area of Wilayat Qurayat, Muscat Governorate, and can be reached via the road linking Qurayat to Sur. It is a deep natural depression filled with water, called Hawiyat Najm.  The locals say that a meteor fell on this spot of land, resulting in the natural depression and forming a small lake.

3. Old Muscat

Reminds me of Matera, Italy

Old Muscat is located along Muttrah Corniche from Port Sultan Qaboos to Al Bustan Beach, while passing through Muscat.

When you set foot in Muscat, you’ll be swept over by a feeling of love and exhilarating joie de vivre as every inch of Muscat relates to its visitors an ancient tale of love between man and the Sea of Oman.

Muscat is surrounded by a wall on its southern and western sides. The wall, with its round towers, was built in 1625, while the mountains and the Gulf of Oman have remained its natural walls to the north and east.

Muttrah Corniche is coastal road which connects Muttrah through Gate, Muscat Gate Museum and the old neighbourhoods.

More photos of Oman’s beauty:

 

 

Thursday’s Top 5: Sushi Restaurants

My boyfriend and I were discussing our favorite sushi places while out for that very food one evening last week. He then came up with a brilliant idea – why not dedicate one day on this here blog to a top 5 list?

Done.

So my first top 5 list, should appropriately be my top 5 Sushi Restaurants.

5. Sushi D – Little Italy – Toronto

All you can eat sush-magoosh. Sorry, that’s what my friend calls it when she craves sushi. And she was the one that introduced me to good all-you-can-eat sushi!

Green Tea Ice Cream – get it.

4. Fune Japanese Restaurant: Simcoe Street Downtown Toronto.

Great atmosphere – free sample appetizers – helpful staff. A tad bit expensive, but it’s worth it, once a year.

3. Asahi Sushi – Toronto (640 Church St. (south of Bloor))

Best in the city that I can find! I always go for the Agedashi Tofu, Miso Soup, and share the Asahi Boat (30 mixed sushi/sashimi).

2. Agrigato Sushi – Horeshoe Bay, West Vancouver B.C.

My first Vancouver sushi experience. Le boyfriend took me there, as it was the closest to where we were staying on this trip. He warned me that it wasn’t “good” Vancouver sushi, and that I shouldn’t base my Vancouver sushi on this restaurant.

Geez – it was delicious! The fish was so fresh – and REAL crab!! Yippee!

1. Alpha (1099 Richards Street – Yaletown) Vancouver, B.C.

I wish you could have a #1 that goes beyond #1…like a #0 or just a shocked face ( 80 – that’s my sideways shocked face) or something to that effect. I have NEVER tasted anything this good. It was melt in my mouth, an explosion of amazing flavours, with an outstanding staff to boot. Of course, I went there in style…with the former mayor of Vancouver. Yep, that’s how I roll. Sushi roll.

I am going to give an honourable mention to my homemade sushi – she says modestly. I’m pretty impressed, the three times I have made it. It just needs a bit of fresh fish going on, instead of the safe cucumber, avacado, fake crab, and smoked salmon business.

If I lived in Vancouver, or I have been to a few more sushi restaurants – like  Tojo’s or Blue Water Cafe – my top 5 would wipe out any hint of Toronto sushi. In a city that is home to the creator of the California Roll. You just can’t beat fresh seafood on the coast. The end.

Photo: Mailing a letter AND relieving yourself all at once.

A mailbox

A mailbox that is beside an outhouse

Your welcome.

No explanation needed, right? It’s so convenient. Out here in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. Why wouldn’t I think to mail my hydro bill on this lonely road in the middle of a national park while about to head into a stinky ol outhouse?

What the bleep is glamping?!

I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately, this ‘glamorous camping’. And by everywhere, that means on Pinterest. I can’t quite wrap my head around the concept, and why this is becoming/is so popular.

Here is my version of glamorous camping:

Glamorous! I even have my Kobo awaiting me on the picnic table!

Not so glamorous – after a wind storm. Bye bye tent.

Anyway, I don’t think my version of glamorous camping is the same version that everyone is talking about. Research time!

This luxury camper in the Highlands of Scotland has a shower, TV, microwave, kettle, fridge AND an electric heater AND is 200 metres from pubs and a grocery store. Don’t worry though, you have to rough it a bit – there is NO cutlery provided. Phew!

At least I can see a picnic table in this photo. Some of the next glamping experience do not have this camping staple at all! Shame, shame.

Wow – check out this one in Martis, Italy. There are tiny Christmas lights all over the ‘Emperor Bell Tent’.

Please read what this site provides for a wonderful glamping experience:

“No sleeping bags, hard floors, or ‘roughing it’ we provide everything you need for your glamping holiday.

Leave your cares behind and unwind. We provide everything,  just bring your heart and soul and romance. Honeymoon couples will be spoilt upon request!

Each Emperor tent has a separate private gas heated shower, vanity basin and eco toilet facility, you also have a private terrace with garden furniture and a little Cool Pool.”

WHAT?! Shouldn’t your private little terrace there be the edge of a cliff, situated along a valley with a meandering stream, speckled with grazing ___________ (bison, deer, antelope, bear….ANY wildlife).

This place has breakfast service, PRIVATE showers, a fridge and a freezer, even CUTLERY! Wow. Way to be closer to nature!

On Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania – your very own private island awaits your glamping experience. It starts off describing the bar and restaurant areas encourage guests to walk around barefoot, then walk out to your private beach, and later have a nice cool shower in the solar powered facilities.

And hey – while you are at it, go to the spa for a nice massage to help you relax just a bit more…

Finally, near Queenstown, New Zealand, I could take a helicopter into a very remote area (could I at least hike in there?! Is that too much to ask?!).

Here’s what’s in store in this glacial valley:

“Guests are hosted under canvas in luxuriously furnished tented suites complete with wall to wall sheepskin carpet, king beds, private deck set with its own hot tub, full en-suite with double vanity and endless hot showers.

On-site facilities include the ‘Mountain Kitchen’ with its well stocked library, dining room, living area, open fires, first class chef and on-site private guides.”

A LIBRARY?!?! A FIRST CLASS CHEF?! SHEEPSKIN CARPET!?!? Why is the word CAMPING even PART of this style of traveling?! This isn’t a type of glamourous camping, it’s a type of luxurious travel in very expensive but unique rooms with full amenities and beyond. I can’t even use the word ‘rustic’ for most of these examples.

Do I sound cynical? If I do, it’s because I am fighting very hard right now not to click on the reservation button on one of these options. Groan.

More glamping locations:

The Red Snowshoe in Slocan Valley, British Columbia – Canada

Forest Tree Houses, South Carolina – U.S.A.

Le Camp – South Western France

Surfing Beach – Santa Maria, Greece

Mmm I could do this one – are there sand flies?

Photo: Like mom, like cub.

Here we are in Kananaskis, Alberta again. I am slowly editing down my vast volumes of photographs from the summer, and am stuck in a folder labeled ‘Alberta’.

Here is another photo of one of my favorite grizzly mom and cub duo (also here and here). It was a great show, that’s for sure!

Read my view on ethical wildlife photography, too!