on October 30, 2010
It was a different world. I live in Rustaq, a small town out in the windswept depths of the Omani desert at the foothills of Jebel Sham (one of Oman’s largest mountains). It is small. It is unbelievably quiet. The people are very traditional. And, modern luxuries such as phone-lines, super-markets and paved roads are relatively modern arrivals. The Intercontinental in the Qurum area of Muscat could not have been in greater contrast. From the moment I parked my car on the rather lavish driveway, I knew I stepping back into ‘civilization’. At this point, I should clarify that I did not stay at the Intercon. At over $400 dollars a night, it does not offer the greatest value for money. Instead, my friends and I spent the evening in the bar, which is where this review will be based.The first thing that struck me about the Intercon’s bar was the smell. It hit as soon as I opened the rather large dark wood doors. It was a rich bouquet featuring the aroma of dark wood, thick carpets and slightly stale beer. To the casual observer, this may not seem like the most inviting of scents, but to me it was like some sweet elixir as it was almost identical to the smell of the Great British Pub.The impression of home was heightened by the décor. Even though the fixtures and fittings were decidedly lavish – thick carpets, dark woods and brass bar-rails – it had a wonderfully dark and dingy feel. The glass in most of the windows was leaded and stained (deliberately so in the ilk of a church or old-fashioned village pub; I do not mean that the windows were dirty and only a minimum of natural light managed to seep in. On top of this, there were thick carpets, tall bar stools and even a dartboard. The clientele also made me feel very much at home. It was primarily made of up British and Australian expats with the occasional American scattered into the mix for color. This meant that the chatter and banter were loud, lively and very inviting.For the first few minutes, the Intercon’s bar seemed like Nirvana. However, I then ordered a beer and my illusions were quickly shattered, sending me plummeting back to reality and my present incarnation. It came to 3.5OR, which translates to over 8USD and 6GBP – not the most economical of joints! With my wallet still smarting from such an extraction, I joined my friends who were playing pool and watching football on the big screen TV. Thankfully, this eased my pain. The two large pool tables were free to use and football was in high definition.For those living in Oman, the bar at the Intercon provides a welcome taste of home. Sadly, it does so at a rather inflated price. I must admit, though, that every no and again, it is very much worth it!
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