The Most Popular Restaurant in Amman

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Hashem Restaurant in Amman is apparently legendary, though I had no idea until I showed up there. I was operating without any maps or guide in Jordan and couldn’t tell one falafel stall from another, but luckily about 10 different people in the capital tipped me off about this place, which definitely stands above the rest. Continue reading

Mansaf, the national dish of Jordan

I wasn’t overwhelmingly impressed with the food in Jordan. They do meats very well (and mixed grill is always on the menu), but I found the similar dishes in neighboring Israel (falafel, hummus) fresher and more flavorful.

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That said, an absolute must-try is mansaf. It’s the national dish of Jordan and while I believe it’s more of a special occasion dish, it’s widely available in restaurants. It basically consists of a dish of rice with a big chunk of tender, melt-in-your-mouth lamb on top, and then you’re given a large dish of warm, thinned yogurt sauce to pour over the whole thing. There’s typically some flatbread under the rice as well to sop up the excess juices. It’s also garnished with chopped herbs and nuts. Almonds and pine nuts are most common, but I also had it served with peanuts at a restaurant in Wadi Musa, as pictured.

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I ate this several times during my nine days in Jordan and find myself craving it now that I’ve moved on and it’s no longer available. It’s strange, I don’t like yogurt on its own but I love yogurt sauces on things, and I think mansaf is definitely the best way to eat it.

How I Pissed Off a Jordanian Cab Driver

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Siq Al-Barid, known as Little Petra, is a smaller Natabean city about a twenty minute drive from Wadi Musa. I’d heard it was pretty cool, and though I worried it might pale in comparison after Petra itself, admission is free so I figured I may as well check it out.

The people at my hotel arranged transport for me and said that the best time to go is a little before sunset. I took it easy for most of the day and then my cab driver, a boisterous middle-aged man, picked me up at around 5 PM. We made the short drive to the site, chatting the whole way, and he dropped me off at the gate and went to go drink tea and wait for me. Continue reading

Petra Day 2: The High Place of Sacrifice & The Royal Tombs

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My second day in Petra I started out with two goals: tackle the second major climb, to the High Place of Sacrifice, and avoid any sketchy too-familiar Bedouins trying to lure me into mule rides… or more. I had one lazy day of riding (and was slightly uncomfortable the whole time), so today I promised myself I would be working for that view. Continue reading

Petra Day 1: the Treasury, the Monastery, and Slightly Pushy Bedouins

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That’s right, obviously I couldn’t come to Jordan without visiting this famous ancient Nabatean city. A lot of people do Petra as a day trip from Israel, but it didn’t make sense financially or time-wise for me to do that. First of all, the entrance tickets to Petra are exorbitantly priced: 50JD for a one day ticket (but then only 5JD for each additional day, so 55JD for a two-day ticket and 60JD for a three-day), and a whopping 90JD for day-trippers who are not spending the night in Jordan. I ended up purchasing a two-day ticket, but in retrospect I probably could have gone for the three-day pass. Continue reading

I’ve been to hell… and it’s the King Hussein-Allenby Bridge Border Crossing

I’m aware that I’m way behind and still need to post about Petra and everything else I saw in Jordan, but ranting takes priority.

Today was without a doubt my hardest, most frustrating day on the road so far. I planned to cross back into Palestine from Jordan through the King Hussein-Allenby Bridge border, then take the bus from the West Bank into Jerusalem to spend the night there before flying to Istanbul in the morning. I was a little hesitant about using this border because it’s known for being very crowded (it’s the only border Palestinian citizens are allowed to use) and has a reputation for being extremely slow… but it was by far the most direct route for me to take. It couldn’t be that bad, right?

Unfortunately, it was. Continue reading

A Night Under the Stars in Wadi Rum

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My new French friends and I hopped in a taxi at the Jordanian border and set off on our 45-minute drive to Wadi Rum. While Etienne sat up front and chatted with our driver, I spent most of the time looking out the window at the vast, unchanging desert landscape. Though Israel has miles of uninhabited desert as well, this seemed different somehow. We saw almost nothing: lots of sand and rocks with one main road running in between, a single railroad track (that I later learned doesn’t carry passengers and is mostly for show), and power lines. An amazing abundance of power lines, though I couldn’t tell you where they led to or from. Continue reading

The Egypt Dilemma

When I was first planning this trip to the Middle East, I always intended to travel to Egypt as well. Israel-Jordan-Egypt — seems like the perfect combo trip, right? Neighboring countries, so crossing land borders would be easy and I wouldn’t have to worry about the logistics or costs of booking additional flights.

Of course, the political situation in Egypt has only been getting worse. Shortly before I left, my father and stepmother gently suggested that I drop Egypt from my itinerary and go to Greece or Turkey instead. I made no promises, but said I would consider it.

And I have been. I’ve been considering it for the whole month I’ve been traveling, and keep going back and forth. I’ve long decided that I would in fact be going to Turkey (a good friend of mine is in Russia now and will be in Istanbul at the end of August, so I plan on meeting him there), but Egypt was still pulling me as well. Continue reading