An awe-inspiring adventure in Oman

For the experience of a lifetime that includes a thriving local goat auction, head to the historical city of Nizwa in Oman.

Australia's favourite food blogger, Not Quite Nigella, aka Lorraine Elliott, soaks up the culture and history of Nizwa in Oman, while getting an education in the local customs.

There are some experiences that you can hear or see but they don’t compare a jot to actually being there. Nizwa, about one and a half hours from Oman’s capital, Muscat, is one of them. A bit of background on Nizwa: it was Oman’s early capital city in the sixth and seventh century and is absolutely steeped in history.

nizwa oman

Two mosques dating back to around 623 AD and Oman’s most visited historical monument Nizwa Fort stand imposing and are a fascinating climb. To protect the Imam (spiritual leader), several traps were built, including drop holes in which intruders would plunge three metres below. And from the other direction, boiling hot date syrup would be poured on any intruders, scalding and killing them.

It’s about 46 degrees Celsius (about 114 Fahrenheit) and the climb to the top of the fort saps strength. To fortify ourselves, there is a room where people are served Omani coffee and sweets. Our guide Abdul has brought some halwa from a souk and it’s fantastic. The gentleman in the room rinses small teacups in a bowl of water and pours us a small cup of Omani coffee (khawa).

nizwa oman

Rinsing some spoons in the same water, he hands us one each and we help ourselves to the luscious dates, which are more syrupy than Medjool dates. There’s also sewyah, which is a sweet pasta noodle pudding fragranced with cardamom and sweet, sticky, halwa jelly studded with slivered almond pieces on top. The rule is that for a stranger, you shouldn’t overstay your welcome by having more than three cups of coffee and if you don’t want any more, you simply hand back the coffee cup while shaking it gently.

As I round the corner and walk into a goat auction, I’m taken aback by the activity...

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