#BEDN Day 2: Travel

#BEDN Day 2: Travel

Travel is a big part of my life and I consider myself very lucky to have visited over 30 countries in my 30 years on this planet. One of the places I’ve visited the most over the years is Amman, Jordan. I’m half Arab and have a rather large family that resides there so every year I go to visit.

This year was a bit different. Topher was doing all the touristy things for the first time (his third trip to Amman itself) and also his sister Emma was coming for the very first time. We had a blast and I wrote about all our touristy travel adventures here:

The Dead Sea

Wadi Rum

Petra

So this is the final instalment of our general wanderings in the city of Amman itself. Jordan may not be at the top of your travel bucket list but it’s definitely somewhere you should consider visiting once in your life.

The Boulevard

Arabs love their shopping malls. So we tend to go to a lot of the ones Amman has to offer. I remember when the first one was built when I was a teen. My cousin and I loved shopping and used to go all the time when I visited. The Boulevard is an outdoor shopping street which is very pretty and always has something going on. Plus this time I noticed loads of street art has popped up since I was last here.

amman - the boulevard

Taj Mall

This is our local mall and has everything we need including a cinema. How cool is this back to school display?

amman - city mall

Amman Citadel

When you think of the Middle East, you don’t tend to think about the Romans but they were definitely here!

amman - citadel

amman - city view

Somewhere downtown

amman - street art

Definitely downtown

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I’m seeing more and more tourists in the past few years and it’s pretty cool to see. I don’t tend to venture downtown much as I spend a lot of time with my family but it was nice to have a wander this year.

amman - alley

amman - bunting

The instagrammer in me was very excited to see these colourful steps!

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On our first night we went to a concert in the Roman amphitheatre which was really awesome. Literally sitting in history.

ampitheatre

concert

Next year will be the first year I won’t be able to go so bring on 2020!

Where’s your favourite place to travel?

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Jordan: In Photos

Since I decided to make a Florida style video to document Topher’s first trip to Jordan, I really dropped the ball on photo taking. Still, I’m going to photo bomb you with all the photos I did take. Sorry, not sorry.

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It’s never truly a trip to Jordan without at least one ice cream cone. This was gelato from Little Italy at Taj Mall.

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Topher’s favourite thing about the food over there was the humongous mezze breakfasts we would have everyday. I will wholeheartedly admit that I miss this.

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Fooling around at my auntie’s house.

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About 30 minutes north of Amman is Jerash, an city home to ancient Roman ruins. Topher loves that kind of stuff so it was a must visit. I vaguely remember the last time I went…20 years ago!

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On the way back to Amman, we stopped at a restaurant which had the BEST view. So pretty. And the food was lovely too.

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More ice cream of course!

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Obligatory mud bath at the Dead Sea. Who needs a spa when you have this available on the beach for free!

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Followed by the must needed shot of a tourist floating in the Dead Sea, reading a book. For those who don’t know, the Dead Sea gets it’s name from the fact that it has so much salt in it that nothing lives in it and when you go in, you float. Handy tip, don’t shave your legs that morning and try to go in. Lets just say I’ve never run to a shower so fast in my life.

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My mum and I went for mani pedis (my first one ever) for my engagement party. It was really fun though I’ve concluded that my feet are definitely still ticklish.

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Also, for the first time ever (even for my parents), we visited the Amman Citadel which is home to the Temple of Hercules (above) and the Umayyad Palace.

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A lovely view of an Amphitheatre.

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The Umayyad Palace

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Inside the Umayyad Palace

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The Boulevard – a new shopping area.

I’m going to do a separate post on the engagement party and the video I made of the trip so stay tuned!

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Four Winters, Amman

This is definitely the first time I’ve eaten ice cream described as revolutionary. Four Winters is a new ice cream establishment in Amman, Jordan that has two branches and is looking to expand across the globe – starting with London hopefully soon. My cousin knows one of the owners so took us all to test out the store at The Boulevard.

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Four Winters gets it’s name from the fact that they use fresh produce that is seasonal. The menus change and range from cautious, to courageous up to crazy. Everything about this ice cream is different. Each cup is made in front of you, one at a time so there’s no tubs of ice cream sitting out all day and there’s no waste. Then the way the ice cream is made is amazing! The ice cream is frozen with liquid nitrogen in front of you (safely of course!). So it’s definitely fresh…and freezing.

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I had a difficult time deciding over which flavour to pick. Do I want to be cautious or crazy? I was torn between Cereal Crunch which I knew I would like and Sweet Bell Pepper which I had no idea about. I eventually decided since I would be having a whole cup that I would be cautious this time and I went for the Cereal Crunch.

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I also sampled my dad’s pina colada flavour and my cousin’s peanut butter cup which were both tasty and we even got kanafeh flavour to share. Kanafeh flavour ice cream is definitely a first for me! It tasted just like the real thing.

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Patience is a virtue and this is definitely worth the wait. The caramel sauce is added to the cup, followed by the cereal, then the freshly frozen ice cream is put in after. And finally the toppings are added.

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My dad insisted I get in front of the camera for once. This is my obliging face.

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And there we have it. I warn you not to take a massive mouthful because it is soooo cold! But oh my god this was amazing. I was so annoyed that I only found out about this place on my last day but I will definitely be back next year. After we had to go to my great aunties for lunch and usually I don’t eat anything before hand as we get FED with her but not this time. Leaving with a fully belly, I declared no regrets.

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Jordan Roundup: What I ate

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Well, how do I begin? What didn’t I eat? (chuckles*). Eating is a big part of Jordanian culture and when you hang out with your family there’s a good chance there’s going to be food involved. At least for my family! The spread above is dessert of fruit and kanafeh at the top for about 20 people. Dig in!

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For breakfast on the first morning we had mana’eesh which is dough topped with za’atar (a spice) – though I always have the cheese version. And in my sleepy state I may have taken a (huge) bite or two before I remembered to take a photo.

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And after many years, I finally learned the source of all the cheese we eat over there. It’s sheep cheese that is preserved in water, salt and poppy seeds. It’s very salty when it comes out of the (giant!) tin so you have to soak it for a day or two in water.

I’ve always eaten similar foods when I visit but this year I finally noticed how much this cheese is used in cooking over here. You fry it to have with breakfast (or even just have it straight from the bowl), it’s on mana’eesh, used in countless desserts like kanafeh and qatayef (see below) and it’s used in so many savoury dishes it makes my head spin. I’ve now discovered where my love of cheese originated!

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These sweets are always in my bag to take home with me – the office loves them! They’re called Ma’amoul and are biscuits with fillings. Blue is walnuts, red is dates and green is pistachios. My favourites are the date filled ones. They come in different shapes and sizes and are popular to give to your guests that come to visit for Eid.

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This main meal is called M’sakhan. Roast chicken served on flatbread with onions. Usually eaten with your hands. I don’t because I’m a rebel. My family always laughed that my brother and I ate with a knife and fork but this year so many of them did the same. My cult is growing!

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I seriously want to eat this entire plate. Qatayef is mainly served during Ramadan so the last time I ate some of this was when I last came to Jordan during Ramadan. About 13 years ago. That is way too long to go without this sweet treat. It’s comparable to a pancake filled with sweet cheese. The same cheese as above in fact. So versatile!

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And a meal is not complete without a baby cup of mint tea. This and arabic coffee is my rocket fuel!

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It’s been awhile but we finally returned to The Bake House which I haven’t visited since 2012. I had the lemonade with mint again. Always a favourite with me.

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And I had the banana and strawberry pancakes which were amazing.

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Now a trip to Amman isn’t without venturing out and sampling some new food. Firstly, this frappachino type thing from Nestle Toll House. The name I am familiar, the fact that they have coffee shops, I didn’t know! Well anyways it was diabetes in a cup and it was freaking delicious.

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We also tried an Italian place called Little Italy at Taj Mall with some of the family. My uncle likes to order the entire starter menu for everyone to share so I got to try loads of new things. Most of which I have no idea what they were exactly. But delicious, yes!

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I decided to be adventurous today so I tried things I have never tried before. This is lemonade with basil. IMG_3020

Followed by a truffle risotto. I love risotto but have never had truffle anything (does chocolate count?) so gave it go. Quite nice but I still prefer my usual seafood risotto’s.

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Afterwards we were all lured in by the gelato stand outside so indulged in a cone. I tried strawberry balsamic which was pretty tasty.

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And this was only a peek of the many things I ate while I was there. Now I’m hungry. But that’s all the indulgent food for me for now. I’ve got 2 months until I eat the world in Florida and I need to fit into my shorts!

What’s tickled your tastebuds recently?

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Jordan Roundup

Now that I’m back in the UK and back at work, it’s time to reminisce about my holiday. Jordan roundup time! For those of you who don’t know, I visit every year to see my rather large family. It’s my pilgrimage that I haven’t missed for a single year since I was born 27 years ago. This post is just a few of the places I visited and things I did while I was there.

Jordan Roundup - building

Amman has changed a lot over the years and there are so many new and exciting areas that are being built so we have had a little look at a few of them. This area is called The Boulevard. It’s still a work in progress but I can’t wait to come back and visit next year. Especially to visit my new favourite ice cream place. But that’s another post!

Jordan Roundup - apartments

Traffic is still the same. No one understands how lanes work. Or roundabouts for that matter! One of these days I’ll be brave enough to drive myself over there.

Jordan Roundup - night time traffic

But the malls have been getting better and better.

Jordan Roundup - Taj Mall

 

As well as visiting the local hotspots, there was plenty of family time to squeeze in since it was Eid. So exhausting! I also have to do an entirely separate post just for the food of course!

Jordan Roundup - Outfit shot

Jordan Roundup - pool side

 

A typical family lunch. This isn’t even the whole family!

Jordan Roundup - dinner table

And as I do every summer, I relearn my cousin’s favourite card games and then lose miserably at them.

Jordan Roundup - cards

It was more chilled than last year but everything is more chill when there isn’t a wedding and parties to attend. But Eid is definitely still busy!

Stay tuned for my next Jordan post on all the food I consumed. Warning; eat something before you read!

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