My Top Five Reasons To Visit Jordan—Karen
My tip top reason to visit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was to see my daughter, who is studying there. But there are so many. Petra has been on my bucket list for a long time and should be on yours. Much of the country seems to glow pink, and the food is great. Here are the top five.
First, Petra. I knew it would amaze, and amaze it did. We saw it first at night, by the light of a full moon and innumerable candles flickering in paper bags. Mysterious and stunning. You walk along a curving path between steep black cliffs, truly thrilling, and suddenly you see the carved face of the Treasury, so named because treasure was rumored to be stored within. We stayed for a son et lumiere show, but you should just walk back to the entrance—sitting is uncomfortable and the show not worth it. The walk, however, is worth everything. Then return in daylight, and see all the incredible structures and carvings you can’t see by moonlight. Watch out for camels and donkeys racing by!
The Dead Sea is another unique, and goofy, experience. It is impossible not to float on your back but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to regain my footing. Pretty funny to watch. I didn't get covered with mud, but that would increase the laughing. And may make you (more) beautiful! But under no circumstances put your face underwater.
Numerous civilizations have flowered in this area, and the evidence is everywhere. Ruins of the Greeks and Roman and many other peoples. Sadly, archeological work has come to a bit of a standstill given the unrest in the region, though Jordan itself seems a haven. The Jordanians are amazingly hospitable, as evidenced by the many people who have found a place of refuge in the country.
Amman, the capital, is where about half of the people live. The parts we saw were spirited and entertaining. Shop in Rainbow Street, or at one of the fun souks. Colorful scarves were my weakness. (We had expected to cover our heads often, but it was necessary only in the mosques.) Go to nearby craft shops—we especially liked the Jordan Crafts Center. And for sure go to the gift shop at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts for elegant versions of local crafts.
Be prepared to eat really well. And plentifully! Stuffed felafel, muttabal (eggplant dip), hummus, pita, rice dishes with chicken and lamb, and intense nutty cake for desert. Try the ubiquitous lemon and mint drink, delicious on its own and perfect with all of the local cuisine. Go to Wild Jordan cafe for modern takes on everything—and a view of Amman’s imposing Citadel.