Tag Archives: Adventure

Are all oases this breathtakingly beautiful?

We got lost.  Not once, not twice, but multiple times on our quest to get to experience an oasis for the first time.  Our family who lives in Oman had told us this was a must do on our trip.  Magazines, newspapers, and travel bloggers concurred.  However, Wadi Bani Khalid seemed to be playing a game of cat and mouse with us.  Each person who we stopped to ask for directions, appeared to send us on yet another path.  We saw multiple signs and yet the target proved elusive.  I could not be more grateful to our relative who patiently persisted and finally got us to this absolutely breathtaking location situated about 200 kilometers away from Muscat.

So, call me naive, but when I heard the word “oasis”, I was envisioning a bunch of palm trees surrounding a body of water.  That’s what I had read in books and seen in paintings.  But what I saw is really hard to put into words.

Nestled among the magnificent Eastern Hajar mountains, with majestic rock formations and boulders, Wadi Bani Khalid has the clearest, most gorgeous oasis where at any given time, the water appears to cover the entire spectrum of green and blue hues.  It is not an easy hike to traverse the wadi, your leg muscles get a workout for sure, but what you end up seeing and absorbing will stay with you for a lifetime.  We saw tourists come, spend just a tad bit of time, take pictures and leave.  Please don’t do that.  Plan to spend a half a day, hiking the area, swimming and just sitting back, enjoying a nice lunch al fresco before heading back to city life.  I’ve tried to capture our adventure in pictures below.

Since we had family living in Oman, we chose to drive here from Muscat.  You could rent a car and drive out on your own or take one of the tours offered by the many local tour companies.  The only risk, as we discovered with driving, is that the mountains interfere with the GPS signal and you need to allocate plenty of time to get here.

If you choose to take a tour, here’s a link to one from Viator:

Visit Wadi Bani Khalid

 

Drink the world in Downtown Syracuse

By Rohan:

Step into Wolff’s Biergarten on Montgomery Street and all of a sudden, you are transported from a chilly Syracuse evening to a festive indoor biergarten. The space is complete with the signature wooden tables, flags from Germany’s provinces, and passionate soccer fans leaving their worries at the door in exchange for a pint of Hofbrau München and a good time with friends.

When I walked into Wolff’s this weekend, I felt like I was back at Munich, knocking back a beer under a starry night in the English Gardens. For a city its size, Syracuse is home to an abundance of international restaurants and bars. Last night, I was determined to see it all; to taste the world without leaving downtown.

From Wolff’s, we headed over to Benjamin’s across from the famed Italian eatery Pastabilities. We traded our jolly German digs for a speakeasy themed to the heroes of the American Revolution. The walls are adorned with portraits of Franklin, Jefferson, and Hamilton. A giant replica of the Constitution welcomes patrons as they relax on the outdoor courtyard and marvel at the night sky.

Just down the street is Kitty Hoynes, a pub that serves as a testament to the strong Irish population in the Syracuse area. Stepping in through that threshold, I was whisked away to festive evenings in Dublin’s Temple Bar district. A duo performed classic Irish tunes onstage as locals gathered around, cradling glasses of dark, frothy Guinness as they celebrated life with complete strangers.

My friend and I smiled as we watched a gorgeous spring day turn into a chilly winter night. We marveled at the great Irish artists that plastered the walls, from Yeats to Joyce to Bono. The cold mugginess was suddenly normalized. We were in Dublin, a city that fights grey skies with good times. Last night, Syracuse proved to do just the same.

Ever had Koshari? It’s flavor fusion nirvana!

By Lakshmi:

During multiple trips to London, we’ve walked by Koshari Street, this tiny, narrow restaurant in Covent Garden that serves up killer “make your own” Koshari.  Koshari (also known as Kushari or Koshary) is an Egyptian dish that originated in the 19th century.

Given we were never at Koshari Street around meal times, we always gave it a skip, promising to be back at a future date.  On this London eatathon, we headed to Koshari Street to get a taste of a dish that is rated incredibly high across TripAdvisor, TimeOut London, Yelp and more.

As we walked towards the restaurant, my two teenaged travel companions wanted to know more about this dish.  I tried to explain it to them rather unsuccessfully.

Think of it as a Chipotle bowl; it originated in Egypt and is eaten by the rich and poor.  You start with a base of rice, pasta and lentils, top it with a tomato sauce, and then layer on spices and toppings.  It left them both confused.  Rice, pasta and lentils in the same dish? That’s weird they chimed.  They did not have a choice.  I had made up my mind and they were going to not just walk in with me, but try the dish as well.

As soon as you open the door to Koshari Street, the smell of the spices draws you in.  The friendly staff patiently explain how the dish is layered and you are able to build it to suit your palate.  Out came the bowl, in went the rice, pasta and lentils.  Next a healthy dollop of tomato sauce was spooned over the carb combo.  On went the chick peas, dukkah (a spice blend), veggies and the fried onions.  Aah the amazing fried onions which added the perfect crunch to this flavor medley.  The best news?  This entire meal was under five pounds.

As I savored the first bite of crisp onions, I got a little bit of the dukkah and tomato sauce. It was a lovely melding of flavors.  Next I blended the sauce with the rice, pasta and tomatoes and dug in.  It was truly a flavor fusion nirvana worth every bit of the five hundred pence I had paid for this meal.

And what did the teenagers have to say?  While they did eat it all, they said the combination of flavors was a bit confusing to them and they would have loved it more minus the dill!

If your travels ever get you to London and you want to have a frugal meal or snack, do head down to Koshari Street.  It is a very easy, delicious way to get introduced to the world of Egyptian street food.