Jordan

Last week, seven Irish lass’ and I set off for a mini-break to Jordan, taking advantage of our U.A.E. National Day holidays.

Arriving late at night into Queen Alia airport in Amman we were met by a nippy 11 degrees celcius and quickly bundled onto our tour bus. We arrived at the 3* Toledo hotel in Amman approximately 45 minutes later and the hotel had kindly extended the dinner buffet until we arrived.

Exhausted after a couple of crazy days pre-departure I decided to skip dinner and woke at 6 a.m. hungry and eager to see what breakfast had in store.

Well, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It was the best breakfast of our trip with a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, breads, fresh herbs, spices, zaatar (oh Jordanian zaatar), olives, falafel, roasted vegetables, eggs – boiled, baked, omelettes – you name it!

Sillily though I had left my phone in my room when I went down to breakfast and was so enthusiastic to dig in that I ate a whole plate of food, then dashed to my room to get my phone, re-created my plate so I could get a snap of it and yes I did eat it all for a second time.. hellooo food baby.

Paleo heaven: pictured clockwise from top is falafel with tahini and fresh herbs, olives, cold cut turkey slices, roasted marrows & eggplant, an omelette with fresh herbs and some spicy chili sauce (centre).
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Tummies more than satisfied we set off to explore the ancient ruins of Jerash, the Amman citadel and the Roman amphitheatre.

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After a morning of walking in the cold and wet and with a 3.5 hour journey ahead of us we were all looking forward to a substantial lunch and we weren’t disappointed with the offerings at Tawaheen Hawa. We enjoyed a traditional sharing style lunch with starters of hummus, moutabal, breads, sausages, salads, etc and a mixed grill main course of barbecue meat and vegetables.

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As we were leaving the restaurant this cute old lady was sat making bread on the ground.

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After our lunch we got back on the bus and drove to Wadi Musa in Petra, where we stayed at  the3* La Maison hotel. Having snacked on the journey our appetites were low so dinner was a bit smaller than usual.

Pictured is carrot and coconut salad, mixed olives, eggplant salad, white fish in lemon sauce with fresh & okra, red cabbage and meatball stew.

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After dinner we took a short walk down to Petra’s visitor centre and enjoyed shisha and drinks in The Cave – a bar located inside a cave; but which on such a chilly night was actually very cosy and modern – they even had NBA on the T.V.!

***

At 7 a.m. the next morning we set off to discover the city of Petra, one of the seven modern Wonders of the World. We began our trail by riding horse-back, as was optionally included in our entry tickets, to the ‘Siq‘ or the beginning of the enclosed city.

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We then wandered by foot through the stone walled Siq stopping numerous times to soak up endless information from our tour guide but the moment of awe when we reached the Treasury was next to none.

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Having arrived early we had luckily beated the crowds and were able to get brilliant, clear pictures in front of the monument as on our way back a number of hours later it was extremely over-crowded.

Proceeding on from the Treasury (pictured above right) we climbed 850 steps up to the Monastery (below). You can take a donkey if you don’t fancy the climb, but it’s not that difficult and upon reaching the summit you feel as if you are on top of the world with views that envy the Grand Canyon.

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Plus you will be treated to some Jordanian hospitality once you reach the top.

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By the time we arrived back down from our trek we were hot and tired so after a quick lunch at the foot of the Monastery we made our way speedily back to our bus so we could make it to our next destination of Wadi Rum in time to watch sunset.

Swapping our bus for the back of a jeep on arrival, we drove across the desert and watched the sun go down over the same place Matt Damon’s latest movie The Martian was filmed.

That night at our camp site we were treated to a traditional method of bedouin cooking known as ‘zarb‘, in which lamb and potatoes were slow cooked for 3 hours in an underground pit. The result was deliciously tender meat and slightly caramelised potatoes served, as pictured below, with rice, cold salads, hummus and a spicy carrot dip.

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After dinner we took part in some traditional dancing and singing around the campfire before retiring to our huts and enjoying an early morning breakfast of omlettes with zaatar, dates and olives.

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***

Next on our hit-list, on day three and our final day in Jordan, was the city of Madaba. Taking us 3.5 hours to drive there from Wadi Rum our first visit was a short stop at St.George’s church to see the famous mosaic map, before grabbing lunch of falafel across the road from a little hole in the wall that our tour guide says is the best falafel joint in the city – and of course I had to get stuck in and help make them! 😉

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Falafels and hummus in tow we departed for Mount Nebo, where Moses was said to have first seen The Promised Land and Pope John Paul II deemed an official Christian pilgrimage site during his visit there.

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From here we proceeded 10 minutes to another famous Christian site – the Baptism place of Jesus Christ; where we got to dip our feet in the River Jordan and stand a mere few feet from Israel at the other side of the water!

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Last but certainly not least on our itinerary was  a float in the Dead Sea. To reach the sea you must enter via one of the surrounding resorts – ours was the 4* Warwick hotel and resort. A shuttle bus runs from the hotel and once beach side the staff will cover you in a mud mask (be warned – those guys are thorough!!) before exfoliating it off once dry with the wet sand.

The result? Skin softer than a baby’s bottom.

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Watching the sun set over the Dead Sea was the perfect end to a short but sweet get away.

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