TRAVEL DIARIES: Jordan – Amman and a dip in the Dead Sea
I can’t believe it’s been about a month since we got back from Israel and Jordan and I still haven’t posted my travel diaries! We took so many amazing photos over the two weeks (over 1500!) so it’s been really difficult to chose which ones to share. It was such a busy trip, taking in so much in so little time, so today I’ll start from the beginning with Amman and a dip to in the Dead Sea, which I hope you’ll enjoy reading about.
Baklava and Arabic Coffee | Local Spice Market
We arrived late at night and in the dark haze couldn’t see much of the city, so went straight to bed, looking forward to exploring the city the following day. Tired and dazed after a long journey, I was jolted awake at 4am as we were both awoken by the sounds of the mosque, literally just out of our window with the first morning call to prayer and I have to say, for two moments wondered where on earth I was. I then laid awake until breakfast, excited about what the city outside my window would hold.
Over the next few days we explored Downtown Amman, visiting local souks, spice markets and taking in the local sounds and smells. Everyone we met was so friendly and although we were the tourists in some areas we were only greeted with friendliness and smiles. The food was also amazing, a street restaurant was our favourite, serving freshly made houmous, falafel and tabbouleh, we had a dinner with a drink for less than £3 in total, and finished our meal with local delicacy kanafeh, a sweet sugary pastry with a layer of melted cheese. We bought our Kanafeh from one of the most famous bakeries in Amman, where locals line the streets all queueing to get a slice of the famous sweet cheese, then all stand in the street with their paper plates of sugary, cheesy goodness. We shared a piece and I have to say it was a little strange at first, the mix of syrupy pastry and cheese, but it grows on you – I’m glad we shared a piece though, it’s sickly sweet and so intensely rich, you could never eat too much.
Over the following days we met with our group and started to explore the ancient cities Roman Citadels, ruins and historical sites. Amman is a city steeped in history with so much to see and do, days were long with lots to see but it was all so fascinating, and amazing to see the stunning Roman ruins which are still in such good condition. The Amphitheatre is right in the heart of downtown and is still used to this day as a local place for shows and music festivals.
All in all, we loved Amman for the friendly atmosphere, downtown local buzz and historical sites, I’d recommend a visit, especially to try the street food and kanafeh!
Tips for visiting Amman:
Locals are really friendly and even though they are mainly conservatively dressed, they are relaxed with tourists wearing shorts/sleeveless tops, as long as it’s nothing extremely revealing you can wear what you like without offending.
We didn’t get harassed in shops, so feel free to browse local markets and stores without feeling pressured.
The street food is so cheap compared to the tourist restaurants, try Hashem restaurant for the best food in town.
Comfy shoes are a must as there is a lot of walking around historical sites
Layers – the weather can vary so much so pack layers as the mornings/evenings are chilly with the temperature picking up during the day.
After three amazing days in Amman, we headed off across the Jordanian countryside, to visit the lowest point on earth – The Dead Sea. At 400m below sea level, the Dead Sea is the worlds saltiest body of water at 34% salt (compared with 3% roughly in most oceans). This means there is no local wildlife or fish, but it has been used since Egyptian times as a giant health spa – the mud has been used for thousands of years in cosmetics and skincare products and bathing in the waters is one of the most relaxing experiences as your body literally floats on the water due to the salt content.
The Dead Sea is absolutely stunning. The calm turquoise waters gently lap at the desert coastline, coated with thick layers of salt formations. It’s not like anywhere I’ve seen before, it’s just beautiful. I couldn’t wait to get into the water and literally ran down to the waters edge as we arrived. We were instructed by the local lifeguards to try not to swim, but to let your body float and as you get into the water (which was colder than I imagined but still quite comfortable!) your body is literally pushed to the surface, making swimming virtually impossible! It’s such a strange feeling!
Some snaps from the Dead Sea
We were treated to fully body Dead Sea treatment, which was literally thick mud dredged from the bottom of the Sea, applied all over. The mask was roughly applied to exfoliate the skin and after 10 minutes of letting the mud dry in the sun, we floated again to let the mud soak away leaving the most amazing silky smooth skin with a kind of moisturising oily residue. Amazing results for a completely natural product, with no additives or chemicals. We bought some mud to bring back to have Dead Sea pampering evenings back home – it’s so great for the skin!
Floating in the Dead Sea
Tips for visiting the Dead Sea:
Be careful on the rocks/seabed as the salt solidifies and can easily cut your feet, take some flip flops and take care in the water.
The water is so salty it can really hurt if it gets on in your eyes/nose/mouth – keep some fresh water by the side in case you need to rinse any salt away.
Do not shave (anywhere!) for at least 24 hours before visiting as the water will really sting!
Don’t try and swim – it’s doesn’t work! Just float and enjoy.
So, that was the first instalment of my Israel and Jordan Travel Diaries. That was Amman and the Dead Sea… next stop is my Indiana Jones moment at Petra and sleeping under the stars in the desert…. stay tuned!