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Jerash and The Citadel

Today we set the alarm for 8 am so we could get an early start. I was really excited about seeing our driver from yesterday again so he could squire us around but, unfortunately, there was a different guy waiting for us this morning. Mohammed was a very nice, young man but he didn't speak a word of English so I have no clue what we were seeing on the drive to Jerash, about 45 minutes north of Amman. I am not sure if it because we are Canadian, but he was also cranking the Celine Dion and I was really not ready for my heart to go on.  I am never ready for that.

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At the end of the day he got us to where we needed to go in one piece and we had a great day so I let it go. 

Last night I forced myself to stay awake til about 8:30 or so when I finally succumbed to my jet lag and passed out despite the constant honking, motor revving and yelling that was going on outside of our window - and we have the "quiet room at the back". I woke up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, at about 12:30am. Because I was still wide awake at 2:00, I knew I was in trouble when I remembered I had some sleeping medication somewhere in our bags. Using my trusty iPhone as a flashlight, I tore every bag apart and finally found them in the fourth bag. I split it in half so I wouldn't be groggy in the morning seeing that it was already 2:30 by this point and the alarm would go off in five hours. I realized that we forgot to get some bottled water and I have no idea whether the tap water is safe so with no other choice, I washed it down with a swig of cough medicine. The Kid helpfully pointed out that this is something they tell you not to do with either medication. Thanks kid. 

Needless to say, I was a bit loopy for the first couple of hours. The breakfast at the hotel is simple but fresh and filling and you won't hear me complaining about the fact that they serve the hummus and the  fol from Hashem, the restaurant we ate in last night. A hard boiled egg, some olives, a nice, strong cup of coffee and we were ready to seize the day. 


First stop was Jerash to see the Greco-Roman ruins of the ancient city of Gerasa. Hadrian's Arch was built in129 AD so you get the idea about what we are talking about here. We spent two hours wandering on our own, taking photos and reading all of the signs explaining what the different sites represented. You can hire a guide as well but sometimes I would rather just do my own thing. 

This is an impressive site and has been beautifully maintained but the amount of trash everywhere is off putting. Who goes to such a beautiful place and throws their water bottles, cans and bags on the ground? Not a Canadian, I can tell you hat. The Kid was was doing some major pearl clutching, I assure you. 

I was told it would take us about two hours, and it did. Of course, they saw him coming from a mile away so The Kid was basically forced to buy his head scarf the minute we got out of the car and I was later swindled by a an old dude dressed as a Beduoin but the scarf was stunning on him and it serves me right for being groggy and not on my game. No harm, no foul and it's only money, right?

The Citadel

After that, we returned to Amman and toured The Citadel. There is a building there that was once a Byzantine church and then became The Umayyad Monumental Gateway, the formal entrance to the Umayyad palace where visitors would be screened before entering the palace.
The interior of the gateway

 In the 1990's the gateway was restored by a team of Spanish archeologists and they added the dome you see there.  This building was my favourite sit of the entire day. A very stern but helpful tourist policeman showed us around and explained what all of the different areas were once used for. We had turned down a very persuasive older gentleman guide at the gate so I really apprecited the mini tour. I could have stayed in there forever but The Kid wanted to move on. 

The Umayyad Monumental Gateway

After a bit of a rest, we set off to find Rainbow Street, a famous local street full of shops and restaurants. By the way the crow flies on the map,  it was very close to our hotel. The map did not point out the Porto like flight of three million steps we had to climb to make it up there and by the time we reached the top, I was near death. Usually, this would not be the case but I have been sick since getting the flu at Thanksgiving so I haven't been taking my usual daily, long walks and my asthma is terrible right now. Thank heavens that the falafel shop we were looking for was about ten feet from the top of the stairs. 

Falafel Al Quds is considered one of the best falafel sandwiches in Amman and I have to say, they might be right. Hot,crispy, bright green falafels are deep fried on the spot and sandwiched in a sesame covered flatbread, covered with tahini sauce, some pickle (hot sauce in my case) and then flattened and cooked like a panini. Despite the fact the I had a coughing fit between each bite, I inhaled the entire thing in about 90 seconds flat. I think it was about $2JD each but the transaction happened so fast that I can't be sure. This is a busy shop and ain't nobody got time to dick around with a tourist who still hasn't got her money down. 

Farther down the street we found Pantastic Ice Cream. It's a brand new shop that is actually in the midst of a soft opening and I think it's going to be a hit. The gimmick is a -30C steel pan that freezes cream and turns it into ice cream in about two minutes. He throws your choice of flavouring in with the cream, whizzes with an immersion blender and pours it on the freezing cold pan. A steady stirring and turning over as it freezes ensues, he throws in any add ins you would like and BAM you have a cup of delicious, all natural ice cream. The Kid's banana Reese's peanut butter cup ice cream was, indeed, Pantastic.

By this time we were both dying for a Turkish coffee. How much do you love the twelve year old with a smoke hanging out of his mouth hanging out at the shop? He made me feel better about my own kid throwing back that rich, cardamom laced black jet fuel, so thanks for that, little smoking kid. 

seeing a ten year old with a smoke hanging out of his mouth takes some getting used to 
I dragged my son around with me so I could buy some pretty scarves and we scored some him "Gucci" sunglasses for 5JD. He crashed the second we got back to our room so I changed our dinner reservations for Sufra to tomorrow night. Tonight we will just wander the streets, following our noses, in search of kebabs. 

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