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Welcome to our world of business information, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Amman & Petra, Jordan.
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Amman & Petra, Jordan
Historical Perspective: Amman is a sprawling city spread over 19 hills, or “jebels,” It is the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It was know as Rabbath-Ammon during the Iron Age and later as Philadelphia. A number of excavations are taking place that reveal remains of the Neolithic period, the Hellenistic and the late Roman to Arab Islamic ages.
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Amman you can see these species: In the spring you’ll see the Temmiink’s Horned Lark, Desert Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Desert Wheatear and Trumpeter Finch. In winter, Cranes and Imperial Eagles roam across this area, while in the Desert Castles area east of Amman you can see Tick-billed Lark and Red-rumped Wheatears.
The Middleeast (middleeast.com/bird.htm) is a great birding resource for Amman.
A list of other Jordan Birding Hot Spots can be found at (camacdonald.com/birding/mejordan.htm)
The Fat Birder (fatbirder.com/links_geo/middle_east/jordan.html) provides an interesting comparison on birding in Jordan vs. Israel.
Beverages – Alcoholic beverages are available in Jordan and some are produced here. Jordan has stellar organic wines. Popular local wines include St. George and Mt. Nebo that are produced using grapes grown in the north border region.
In addition to wines, Jordan has been producing Amstel beer since 1958 and there are also the Jordanian beers, Petra and Philadelphia. Jordan even produces hard liquor and, of course, arak (the quintessential Arab anise liquor).
Shopping – The best shopping in Amman in the downtown area are the souks where you will find craft items, jewelry, fabrics and paintings. Bargaining is uncommon, and it’s illegal to take anything older than 100 years out of Jordan.
Transportation: Here is the site for public transportation in Amman (ammanbrt.jo/ar/default.asp) Note: For a translation hold your cursor over the Arabic lettering.
Exchange Rates (http://www.x-rates.com/)
Day One: First explore the Citadel area and visit the site of the Temple of Hercules
The great temple of Hercules (Herakles) was built between 162-166 AD. Larger than any temple in Rome itself, the massive structure faces east and is seen here from the front (northeast corner.) The temple portico is framed by six 33-foot tall columns.
Close by is the Byzantine Church –
The Byzantine basilica was constructed in the 5th-6th centuries AD. Its nave is flanked by two rows of columns. The photo looks eastwards from the entrance down the length of the nave, towards the partially reconstructed semicircular wall of the apse.
The next site for our inspection is the Umayyad Mosque –
This view looking north shows the domed entrance (vestibule) to the Umayyad governor’s palace (8th century) in the background. The dome is a modern reconstruction that gives the building an odd appearance.
The entrance to the vestibule is the large semicircular archway below the dome. In the foreground are the remains of the palace mosque, whose column bases surround an open courtyard.
A short section of the mosque’s wall has been re-erected here.
Lunch is at the legendary Hashem – 24/7, Al-Amir Mohammed St
Everyone goes here at some point and has the falafel, hummus and fava bean paste or the bread and mint tea. It’s fresh and inexpensive.
The Jordan Archaeological Museum – Sa-Th: 8-6, F: 9-4, Ali bin Abi Taleb Street | Ras Al-Ayn Area, 962-6-4629317 is helpful in understanding the history of Jordan.
The museum holds many artifacts found in various archaeological sites in Jordan representing the path of civilization in this area. The extensive collection is arranged chronologically by historical periods, from the Stone Ages to the Islamic periods.
One of their most important holdings is the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible that were discovered in the 1940s.
Next visit The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts – Summer, Daily: 9-7, Winter, Daily: 9-5, Hosni Fareez St, 00 (962 6) 463 0128, a major contemporary art museum.
The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is one of the major art museums in the Middle East. It has a vast permanent collection of modern art from the developing world.
The collection comprises over 2000 works including paintings, prints, sculptures, sculptures, photographs, installations, weavings, and ceramics by more than 800 artists from 59 countries located mainly in Asia and Africa.
Splurge tonight for dinner at Fakhr el Din – D: Nightly, Jabal Amman, 2nd Circle, 962 6 4652399
Start with the blended chick peas with sesame paste, lemon, parsley and beans or the vegetable stuffed artichokes sautéed in olive oil and white wine. The pastry filled with spinach and onions is another good option.
For your mains the lamb cutlets with potatoes and tomatoes and the grilled chicken with garlic, lemon and mushrooms are good choices.
Our beverage is Arak. Dessert is the traditional Ishta with honey.
Day Two: Breakfast is at Al Quds – B,L,D: Daily, Al-Malek al-Hussein St, 962 4630168
You can get a regular breakfast offering but they are noted for their hummus, their pastries and sinful baklava.
There are many reasons to visit the Roman Theater- Al Mudaraj
The Roman Theater is the most impressive relic of ancient Philadelphia. It was built during the reign of Antonius Pius (138-161 AD). It is cut into to the northern side of hill that was a graveyard. It is still used for events and seats about 6000.
Another reason is to see the Jordan Folklore Museum – Sa-Th: 9-5, F: 10-4 located in the right wing of the theater. It displays a collection of items used in the life of the local people.
Your remaining visit here is the Museum of Popular Traditions – W-M: 9-5. where you can see Jordanian clothing that includes embroidery and jewelry. There are several 6th century mosaics from Madaba and Jerash.
Time for a lite lunch at Diwan al Sultan Ibrahim – L & D: Daily, Ocean Hotel, Shatt al-Arab St Umm Utheina, 962 5517383
You’ll enjoy the Lebanese seafood specialties featuring grilled fish and frog legs with garlic and coriander.
Your starter is arugula salad with beets. The lamb kabobs in a tomato sauce are very tempting.
Your next stop is the Mujib Nature Reserve. It is 416 meters below sea level and borders the Dead Sea into which it’s many rivers flow. In addition to us, 300 species of plants, many carnivores, migratory and resident birds visit or live here.
The Dead Sea is completely landlocked and gets its name from the 35 different kinds of mineral salts that give it a saline level between 28 and 35 percent. By comparison, the world’s saltiest oceans are only 3 to 6 percent. The Dead Sea is simply too salty for any living creature or plant to exist.
You want to get to your next stop, the Wadi Rum to spend the night. Here you’ll stay in a Bedouin camp in a tent lined with cushions and carpets.
Dinner is a one dish meal of lamb, chicken and vegetables. Your beverage is black tea flavored with sage and our entertainment includes the sunset and Bedouin songs played on the lute-like oud.
Day Three: Breakfast is at Three Steps Restaurant & Café – B,L,D: Daily, Wadi Mousa, Tourist Street, Nearby Petra Palace Hotel, Petra – Wadi Musa, 962 2159300
Enjoy the breakfast standards: muffins, omelets, croissants, pancakes, French toast, juices, coffee and tea.
This morning take time to explore the Wadi Rum Protected Area –
The 74,000-hectare property features a desert landscape consisting of a range of narrow gorges, natural arches, towering cliffs, ramps and caverns. Petroglyphs, inscriptions and archaeological remains in the site testify to 12,000 years of human occupation.
The combination of 25,000 rock carvings with 20,000 inscriptions trace the evolution of human thought and the early development of the alphabet.
The site illustrates the evolution of pastoral, agricultural and urban activity in the region.
The Red Cave Restaurant – at the Main Petra Gate, Haroun Hlalat, 9623 21555 99 is a good lunch spot.
Start with the kibbeh and the baba ganoush. Then it’s a difficult choice because they have several menus. Go native with the Bedouin classics.
Choices include the Gallayah, which is chicken with coriander, garlic, olive oil and green chiles or the Bil Tahini that has beef spiced with black pepper, all spice and yogurt served with pita bread and rice.
Our final exploration on our Jordanian Mini-Holiday is the city of Petra, capital of the Nabataean Arabs. Petra is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
Petra is a unique example of an astonishing ancient civilization. More than 2,000 years ago the Nabataean’s carved this city into the mountains.
The site remained unknown to the western world until 1812 when it was rediscovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
Due to the centuries that lapsed before the rediscovery of the city by the outside world, Petra was named the “Lost City”.
Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved.
The Nabateans were famous for their advanced irrigation systems and water harvesting.
On December 6, 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage Site. Petra was chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the 28 places you should visit before you die.
Until next time, best wishes and happy travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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