A young Swiss tour guide is vigorously promoting Sultanate’s beauty and aspects of sustainable tourism to the outside world. Andrea Ritler from Wallis, a canton in southern Switzerland, was interviewed by M6, a French TV channel, and 1815.ch Wallis, where she spoke highly about Oman’s nature and life aspects.
Her blog is no wonder named ‘funexpected.me’ bringing out the funny element in her with ‘expecting the unexpected’ being her attitude towards life.
Frankincense, spices, scarfs or books about Oman are her favourites.
As one who is a constant traveller, Andrea was fascinated by multi cultures, languages and lifestyles. She encourages others to be open minded to culture and religion while travelling in the Middle East.
As a child she dreamt discovering the world and to communicate like a fairytale in Arabic, Hindi or other languages during her travels.
“I love to take photographs and write poems whenever I feel like. My dreams almost came true, when I discovered Oman in January 2016,” she mentions.
Andrea says she finds a few similarities between Wallisians and Omanis. “They are both traditional mountain people while in Oman they are called Jebalis. Sometimes these people still live and work in the mountains, lead a primitive life and are strongly connected with their families. However, Walliser and Omanis differ when it comes to celebrating festivals.”
After completing studies in 2015, Andrea quit her job and left Switzerland to hop on to the Trans-Siberian Railway Network where she underwent a course at Kung Fu Camp in China and a Surf Camp in Bali.
Her goal: travel for a year. But as she had no money left and ended up in Dubai after 5 months, but still planned to make it to Oman.
The decision regarding travelling to Oman was the best ever she made which she never really regrets.
Working in Oman as a tour guide exposed her to various travel companies providing her opportunities to attend ITB in Berlin twice. Her work involved translating brochures and dealing with sales and management.
After more than 3 years in Oman, with breaks in Switzerland and other countries, she stayed for a year back home but thoroughly missed Oman.
She followed her heart and since September is back in Muscat working for HashtagOman.
Through her job she reaches out to follow their heart towards purpose and passion, to take care of the body through sport and meditation and mind via education and growing and to travel and see the world from a different perspective.
Oman is really diverse says Andrea.
“There are wadis, deserts, beaches, mountains, all you can wish. Apart from the desert, she loves to walk in the heat along a wadi, or through the souq with all the diverse spices and aroma of frankincense in the air or even splash and jump in the sea to refresh.”
An adventure like sleeping outdoors at the beach or randomly talking to a friendly Omani is another favourite whenever she is on a tour anywhere within this beautiful country.
Andrea loves to write poems or to write positive thoughts about places or people she connects with.
“Omanis smile a lot and are friendly, sharing, caring and open minded to other cultures. They work in different kinds of jobs, so you can contact them everywhere, in shops, museums and other facilities and help you to find a solution to your problems.”
Andrea says she could connect with them as she grew up in the mountains among nature and in a small village.
She grew up in the mountains in the beautiful canton of Wallis. But almost half of her life she has studied or travelled and worked abroad.
She followed her ambition and completed Tourism Studies in French with an MBA in English and has mostly been working in the field of tourism or language schools having travelled to over 50 countries.
“Whenever I see small kids in the streets, I often recollect my own childhood. In addition, Oman is as diverse and multicultural as my own interests are and I like to spend time with Omanis to share special moments to learn and grow,” she admits.
Andrea’s first solo trip at 18 was a flight to Riga to visit a pen pal. Since then they have kept in touch. Long term relationships with all kinds of people are important to her.
“I never fail to meet with local people during my travels. It is not only the best way to discover non-touristic locations, but also to live like them as well as to understand their experiences in daily life together with finding out the truth behind all colourful pictures and brochures. Every country has far more to show than its best places,” she reasons.
She lived for more than a month in Nepal and India and undertook yoga and meditation teaching certificate courses.
Oman, Andrea confesses stole her heart away, and had to come back to visit again.
“I took this decision while in the desert, with a friend and a tour guide, having five minutes of peace, gazing at the stars.”