My weekend plan was to take a break from running on Thursday and visit the new Grand Hypermarket in Ibri. So, at about 8 o’clock I started walking towards town with the intention of flagging down the first taxi I saw. The weather was lovely and I thought about walking all the way into town. (It takes about an hour and 15 minutes from my place.) However, within a few minutes someone stopped and offered me a lift into the city. My walk was finished.
By the time we arrived at the new hypermarket we discovered it didn’t open until 9:00. This was not a problem since I could easily kill some time strolling around downtown Ibri. However, Srool (the driver) suggested we visit Ibri Castle.
Well, my previous attempts at visiting Ibri Castle ended in disappointment. It was never open – didn’t matter if I went in the morning, afternoon, during the week or the weekend. In addition, on each occasion I looked everywhere but couldn’t find a sign indicating opening hours. Consequently, I gave up on the idea of visiting Ibri Castle months ago.
Although I was not very optimistic about the pending visit I agreed. At first it seemed as though it would once again be impossible to go into the castle. Then Srool spotted an elderly man and struck up a conversation with him in Arabic. He had the key to the castle door and allowed me to enter.
I was finally inside Ibri Castle! It was quite spacious, but way too quiet. There was not another person in sight. I felt lost with no signs, no tourist brochures, no information and no guide. What should I do? For the first ten minutes I walked around aimlessly and took photos. I wondered if Srool had abandoned me. Thank goodness, he reappeared and I had some company. He did his best to explain the history of the castle.
According to Srool, Ibri is one of the oldest towns in Oman. The castle was part of the original walled city. Inside the castle walls is the Friday Mosque which has been restored. It is still used by the locals for Friday prayers.
After about an hour wandering around the castle the old man with the key resurfaced and invited us for some Arabic coffee and dates. This was the signal that our time in the castle was up. We had some dates and coffee and then thanked the elderly man.
Scrool took me to the new Grand Hypermarket and we parted company. I picked up some provisions for the week and walked to the Al Madj hotel to track down a former colleague from Saudi Arabia who just landed in Ibri.