We’re in the spectacular, awe-inspiring and dramatic land of Jordan, here to experience as much as we can in our short time here and of course, impart all of our travel tales to you. Get ready to discover Jordan…
Today saw us kick-start our whirlwind tour, fittingly right at the heart of the country in the cultural, economic and political hub of Amman, where the ancient world blends seamlessly with the modern. We started our exploration of the city from the top – quite literally – as Amman is made up of 15 summits and the only way to see it is from above. We drove from our hotel through various jabals, or local districts, to the Citadel where we were met with panoramic views over the sprawling urban expanse of creamy stone-hued buildings, peppered sporadically with ancient amphitheaters and mosques. Along with the 360 degree views and archaeological sites dating back to the Bronze Age through to the age of the Ottoman Empire, it’s clear to see why Amman is a history buff’s wildest dream, with each crumbling pillar and viewpoint telling a different story. Not that you need to have encyclopaedic knowledge to appreciate the rich culture and amazing view – we were totally blown away.
Amman street food
After the giddy heights of the Citadel, it was time to explore the bustling and chaotic downtown. Once we figured out how to navigate crossing roads – trust me, it took a while – we set off on a voyage of culinary discovery through Amman’s downtown, bursting with market stalls, side streets and overlooked by rooftop cafes. Our first pit-stop was a side street eatery renowned as one of the most famous in Amman, that stays open until 3 in the morning. Expect to wait a while for a perch but after sampling a few steaming hot falafels, it is definitely worth it, we promise. And hey, if it’s good enough for the Royals and Queen Rania, it’s worth a try.
Next stop, our guide took us to try a typical Jordanian sweet, kunafa a devilishly tasty and a combination of some very unlikely ingredients (think cheese, deep fried strings of spaghetti and lots and lots of sugar) – if you have a sweet tooth, this is the place for you. After washing down our kunafa with some fragrant Turkish coffee, it was time to weave through the market stalls, selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to bespoke perfumes. The air was full of vendors shouting in Arabic and smells of unidentifiable but tempting street food…we’re starting to understand why this is such a dream destination for a foodie. After a lunch of delicious lamb dishes and more pita bread than you could shake a stick at, we left the buzzing capital and made our way north to historical hot spot, Jerash.
Even having seen a fair few archaeological sites in our time, nothing prepared us for the Roman city of Jerash, which hosts an unbroken chain of human settlement spanning back more than 6,500 years. Remaining amazingly intact, the huge site is scattered with towering Corinthian Pillars, temples to the goddess of love and fertility Artemis and several sky-high amphitheaters. As the sun began to set, the haunting call of prayer filled the valley and with the bleating herd of goats and the gentle hum of the modern city in the distance, we left thinking that there’s something calming and pretty magical about this place.
From the lush landscape of the north, we descended to the Dead Sea where the sun was going down over the still expanse of water and the mountains of Israel in the distance and with a glass of Jordanian white wine in hand, it seemed like a pretty perfect ending to our first day here in Jordan.