Although our time in Jordan was short (a mere 10 days), we were able to experience a lot while we were there… we floated in the Dead Sea (and spoiled ourselves at the Movenpick Resort), we went to the Feynan Ecolodge (and spoiled ourselves again!), and we toured the lost city of Petra.
And when we were not roaming around the country, exploring the wonders of Jordan??? Well, we were in the capital city of Amman…and saw, tasted, drank, smoked and soaked up everything we possibly could! Amman isn’t a pretty city….taking a look at the landscape it appears to be nothing but a sand-coloured concrete block after concrete block, with the occasional mosque popping up over the horizon. But the beauty of this city, built into the hillside of NW Jordan lies in the casual vibe of the old city centre, the warm welcomes from the Jordanian people, and the endless number of things to keep us occupied.
And so we bring you, in no particular order, a not-so-brief rundown of what we appreciated in Amman:
The Shawarma: aka The Arabian Taco
There really wasn’t any food we disliked in Jordan, but this was one of our favourites. The massive towering logs of revolving meat on the vertical red hot cooker. The meat (lamb or chicken) is then shaved off to order with fried onions, tomatoes and sauce. We had a local shawarma restaurant four-doors down from our hotel, and it was the perfect thing to warm you up after a chilly day out in Amman. And at only 1.5JD how do you say no?
Knafeh: Cheesy goodness, for dessert!!
Soft Nabulsi (goat or sheep) cheese topped with a light batter, drizzled on in long threads which look like shredded wheat, and then covered with a thick syrup of sugar, water and a few drops of rose water… who thinks of this stuff? Thankfully the fine Palestinian people have, and they have brought it to Jordan. Thousands of calories in every bite, but I am drooling right now just thinking about it.
The Shisha: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em
Neither of us are smokers but this truly is part of the Jordanian culture; walk into any local cafe and you will see men and women alike puffing away on this water-pipe. Tobacco flavours are generally fruit-flavoured (We sampled the ‘two apples’ variety). Small hot coals are placed on tin foil, which heats the tobacco underneath. It falls under the ‘gotta try it once’ category in our opinion….don’t worry – we never inhaled!
Women’s Wellness Fitness and Spa
Whenever we land in a new city, Shawna seeks out the local gym as quickly as I track down the local lager. She made an entire day of her time here, and the girls there treated her like gold! Running, cross-training, jacuzzi and steam followed by a freshly squeezed OJ…these are the things that bring a smile to my wife’s face!
Al-Pasha Turkish Bath: Scrub-a-dub-dub
While Shawna was sweating it out at the ladies-only gym, I headed to Al-Pasha for a male bonding experience like no other. As with most turkish baths (or hammams) men and women each have their own designated times of the day to enter. Shower-steam-soak-scrub-massage-sauna. I left there minus one layer of skin and with and a feeling of absolute exhaustion and relaxation.
The Palace Hotel: Our Home in Amman
Apparently one of the oldest hotels in the city, the Palace was where we laid our heads. They don’t turn on the heat until 10PM, but you can’t hold that against them… they brought as many warm teas and extra blankets as we required. Our double room was cheap (20JD) and the staff were some of the friendliest Jordanians we had the pleasure of meeting (and that is saying something).
Rainbow Street is the most cosmopolitan street in Amman. Chic cafes and trendy restaurants line Rainbow Street. Hundreds of expats and travellers immersed themselves in the goings on of Rainbow Street, and we were no exception. We loved Turtle Green, where we (or…I) could geek out for hours online. And we can’t forget about Cantaloupe Gastro Pub, where you will be provided with a staggering 360° view of downtown Amman, in addition to a a menu that will make your tummy grumble with anticipation.
Amman was a city we had never intended on visiting…but that remains the beauty of this worldwide pilgrimage of ours. As it turns out we DID visit Amman, and hot damm – we loved it!!
Many thanks to out friends Aneesha, Foz, and Tessa for the multiple recommendations on what to see and do in this remarkable city. Without you, we never would have made it past the Shisha lounge.