Jordan is a fascinating country – it is rich in tradition, has beautiful desert landscapes and is considered the crossroad of the Middle East. Currently, Jordan is a safer travel option than its neighboring countries like Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. I was lucky enough to travel to Amman – a city that rests across a series of hills. Greco-Roman temples and ancient castles emerge at the top of Jabal Al Qal’a, the ancient central part of the city. I loved the older part of the city – which differs from the modern Jabal Amman on the opposite side.
You will find lots of restaurants, souks and shops in Jabal Amman. We spend a morning walking the streets in downtown Amman and had a light lunch. Our trip was in August – the ideal temperature for a cool summer getaway! Jordanian summers, like Dubai, rise deep into the 30’s, so autumn (September-November) is the ideal season to visit this beautiful country. Staying at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea is a real treat. The hotel is situated in a traditional village setting and on the northern shores of the Dead Sea. The first thing to do is head straight for the water and float around! It is a surreal experience and one valuable lesson for all the ladies – don’t shave the day before! My legs were on fire! Most travelers head straight for Petra, as did we, but exploring the surrounding areas of Amman for a few extra days is highly recommended. Heading to Petra was next on the list. Although much has been written about Petra, nothing really prepares you for this amazing place. No words can describe how incredible it is to see the red mountains and enormous mausoleums – a world wonder carved into rock! The beauty of Petra and it’s architecture forced me to pay attention to the leaks of golden desert light falling through mashribiya screens. Barry only joined in on the first leg of my Jordan trip as I had to stay behind for a NAOUR PRE-WEDDING COUPLE shoot. Once Barry left for Dubai I had an extra day to explore Amman.
The Amphitheatre is a famous landmark in the Jordanian capital, and was still on my list of things to do. This magnificently restored theatre was not walking distance from where I stayed and I decided to take a taxi. Possibly the best decision ever made! I have read a lot about the hospitality of Jordanians and I can echo the sentiment! Jordanian hospitality is the best. My taxi driver became my personal tour guide and shared personal stories and local legends of places on route. Abu Ibara was our first stop. Falafel Heaven! Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern meal and usually made from chickpeas and fava beans, served as a wrapped sandwich. The chickpeas and fava beans are rolled into balls and deep-fried. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled veggies and sauces. In 2012, one of the hotels in Amman prepared the world’s largest Falafel – it weighed in at 75kg breaking the previous record set at a Jewish Food Festival in the United States.
For me, it is customary to have a cup of coffee after a great meal. The driver insisted on going somewhere else for a much-needed cup of coffee. He explained that in Jordan, coffee is more than just a drink. Coffee is embraced by tradition and cherished with admiration. It is a symbol of kindness, generosity and trust. The thick black cardamom flavored coffee, also know as “qahwa sadad”, is a must have and I was lucky enough to enjoy the driver’s favourite spot. Afterwards, I was invited to have dinner with him and his family. I was amazed at how genuine and friendly this stranger was and will treasure this memory for years to come!