- You have to wear shoes inside, but you can’t wear the same shoes you wear outside inside.
- There are no crosswalks, traffic lanes or speed limits in Amman. And even where there are, no one pays attention to them. Also there’s no sidewalks, so have fun with that.
- Jordan is the 3rd most water poor country in the world. (Welcome to 3 minute showers)
- Boys and Girls go to separate schools until college.
- 5% of the country is Christian (including my host fam!)
- Some of the largest Palestinian refugee camps are in Jordan, some have been here since 1948. Palestinian refugees are also allowed to hold a Jordanian Passport.
- Jordan has a King and a Queen, both of which are amazing people! Their son also goes to Georgetown University in the US.
- Although it’s really hot here now, in the winter it gets below freezing, with the occasional snow fall.
- Jordan has great political relations with the US, and the US Embassy in Jordan is the biggest embassy here, with thousands of people working in the embassy making it the biggest in Jordan.
- Amman has the tallest free-standing flagpole in the world at 430 feet (HEY Lehigh Engineers, think we can make a bigger one??)
So my first trip outside of Amman was this weekend (aka yesterday) to Kerak Castle. Now, for all you non-jordanians out there, Kerak Castle is the largest crusader castle in Jordan, but it originally started out as the King of Jerusalem’s castle and later was turned into a Mamluk palace. Long story short, it’s this huge castle on top of a mountain in the town of Kerak. From the castle, you can see the Dead Sea and the neighboring mountains from the top of the castle.
We spent the afternoon picnicking (I continued my fig addiction by eating a like eight figs for lunch) and exploring the castle. The castle had a bunch of underground tunnels and above ground ruins, and although we spent more than 4 hours at the castle, I don’t even think that we saw all of it. The tunnels are the old rooms of the palace. It was really interesting and the castle even had some nifty historical signs in English to tell us what was there.
The ride to and from Kerak was really easy, a 2 JD bus ride to Kerak and then a 50 piaster bus ride to the castle. That’s less than 10 JD for a wonderful day trip! Holllaa.
In cases anyone was unaware, Thursday is the new Friday for me! Basically our weekends are Friday and Saturday, instead of Saturday and Sunday. Super confusing, I know, but hopefully we all get used to it soon.
Anyway so this Friday, a bunch of friends and I decided to go and get falafel at the most famous falafel place in Jordan, Hashims. 8 of us managed to get ourselves downtown to eat a delicious spread of hummus, falafel, pita, bean dip, french fries and tomatoes. It was super good and super yummy, and only 2 dinar a person!
After the falafel, we decided to go up to the citadel to watch the sunset, but after getting lost on the way there, we didn’t get to go into the citadel and had to watch from the parking lot near by. Word to the wise though, don’t go into a playground full of pre-teen boys because if I’ve learned anything while being abroad, it’s that tween boys are little jerks all around the world, not just in America (no offense to anyone).
After the citadel, we walked down the hill and went to Habebas to get Kenafeh and Baba Ganoush. The Kenafeh is an absolutely delicious cheese pastry soaked in a clear colored sweet syrup. Mmm! After munching on Kenafah, we did some light shopping and then disperesed! A perfect way to end the first week of classes,
WELCOME TO JORDAN
So I’ve been in Jordan for about a week now, which is crazy to think about. And soooo much has happened in that week, I’m sorry that I haven’t been blogging, but internet is a precious commodity here and it’s hard to upload pictures because you don’t want to use up all your internet in one go, if that makes any sense. If it doesn’t make sense think of it as the data on your cellphone, you only get a certain amount until you run out, that’s how wifi here works.
Anyway, Jordan is absolutely gorgeous! Especially Amman! Amman is commonly known as the “White City” which makes a lot of sense because all buildings are required by law to have a sandstone facade, which means in the sun they all are a beautiful shining white color. Jordan has a bunch of other building codes, too, like the residential buildings can’t be more than 5 stories tall and in refugee camps the buildings can’t be more than two stories tall, etc but those rules are less fun.
Amman is also known as the City of Seven Hills, which is pretty accurate because it was built on seven really large hills. So basically, it’s just like being back at Lehigh because I’m always either walking up a big hill or down one, and just like Lehigh, sometimes you have to go down to go up.
Amman also used to be known as Philadelphia. (Basically, another sign that I didn’t actually leave home) This used to be the spot of the large Roman city of Philadelphia, which was known as one of the biggest Roman cities this side of the Mediterranean. There was a large Roman Amphitheater, which still stands in downtown Amman today, and a Temple of Hercules, which ruins are now part of Amman’s archeological site called the Citadel. We visited both sites on Thursday during our city tour, and we even got to see how well the Roman Theater amplified your voice and try out the “Roman Telephone.”
Over the past few days, I’ve gotten to know the city a little better. I’ve been to two different malls, one with Lara, my host sister, and the other with some of my friends. Both were very interesting because they’re just like American malls only more expensive. I’ve been to two very different markets, Souk Abdali and Souk Jara. Souk Abdali is a clothing market, and it is absolutely chaotic and Souk Jara was more of an artisan craft fair. I’ve been to a ton of cafes and I now know that one of my new favorite drinks is lemon mint juice. I’ve eaten tons of hummus, grape leaves, falafel, shawarma and pita, so I’m pretty sure that I’m at least starting to fit in at least foodwise. I’ve learned how to write three Arabic letters and I can say my hellos and goodbyes in Arabic, so overall, things are going great!
Made it to Amman, Jordan! It’s currently 5am and 72°.. So I’m going to go to bed! I just figured that I’d post to let everyone know that I arrived and I am alive. We start orientation on Monday, so tomorrow is just a day for rest (much, much needed rest)
Here are all the pictures from my backpacking journey! If anyone feels the need to stalk out my European backpacking adventure, feel free. Also, don’t forget that I am always here to answer any questions that you may have about my travels etc. :]
A rainy day doesn’t have to be a bad day, especially not in Ireland. So for the past 5 days, I was in the beautiful island of Ireland, and if you haven’t gone I highly recommend it. The island itself isn’t very large and is easily accessible by train and bus, depending on where you want to go. For my stay, I was based out of Dublin, which is the charming capital city.
The first day in Dublin, I spent getting acquainted with the city, doing a quick walking tour, getting lunch at an Irish pub and then going window shopping before showering and going to bed. The only reason that I went to bed so early was because I had to be on the other side of the city at 6:30am the next day to go to the Cliffs of Moher.
Now, the Cliffs of Moher, also known as the Cliffs of Insanity from The Princess Bride, are 700 meter tall cliffs on the southwest coast of Ireland. The cliffs themselves are pretty neat actually! And they are exceedingly gorgeous. Of course, it poured rain the whole time we were at the cliffs, but that doesn’t change how amazing the experience was. After that, we drove up the coast stopping to explore the Burren (a big limestone field) and getting lunch in the little fishing village of Doolin. It definitely made me want to rent a car as just drive around Ireland exploring, anyone wanna join? (Might need to wait till I’m rich and old though, hmm…)
On Monday, I accidentally devoted my day to drinking, which is surprisingly easy to do in Ireland. I toured the Guinness Factory and the Jameson Whiskey Distillery. To no ones surprise, I am a bigger fan of Jameson than Guinness. Both tours were pretty cool, and well done. Even though it’s a little pricey, Id personally recommend doing at least one of the two!
On Tuesday, I devoted the day to literature, being the good little English major I am. I went to both the Oscar Wilde and James Joyce statues and walked past the Beckett birth house. Then I miraculously stumbled upon the Sweny pharmacy from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and I ended up staying there for three hours and doing a reading of my favorite story from Dubliners with the three Irish guys who worked there. Continuing with the literary theme, I hit up the Chester Beatty Library, which holds the largest collection of Qur’ans in the world, as well as some some of the earliest copies of the Christian letters written by Paul. The library was absolutely fascinating (and free! 😉) I ended that day by doing a pub crawl with some Danish girls I met at the hostel, leaving the literature theme and returning to Mondays theme.
On my last day, I took a bus over to the Wicklow mountains and did a short 2 mile hike around a monastic village and lake in one of the mountain valleys. It was an absolute perfect and beautiful way to end my time in Ireland. Hiking through the woods, finding wild deer and waterfalls is something I never mind doing.
I’m currently chilling in London waiting for my bus back to Germany. One more 12 hour bus ride and 2 days before I leave for Jordan! And you better believe I’m getting pumped.
1. Do not eat sour cream and onion chips, they might be delicious but they smell rank.
2. If everyone else is being quiet, do not take a loud, gossipy, non-important phone call.
3. Do not recline your chair unless everyone else is, too.
4. Like shower at least within 24 hours of getting on the bus.
5. Wear headphones?? Thought this was self-explanatory.
6. Don’t clog the toilet… Just do not.
Looking for the queen’s corgis was a little harder than expected and I am royally disappointed that I didn’t get to see any while in Great Britian.
I spent most of last week exploring London, both alone and with Julie. The first day in London, I was really boring and just honestly did laundry and called my mom, being the world class daughter I am. But on day two, I met Julie at the British Museum, which is a nice little free museum of human history (surprisingly not just about British history, despite the name), and after the museum, we walked down to Trafalgar Square and surprising enough, it started to pour (thanks Britian!) so we ran into a pub to grab some chicken pot pie and cider. After our quick stint in the pub, we trudged over to the National Gallery to look at some really freaking famous art. Tons of Monets, Jan Van Ecks, Titians, Claudes, Van Goghs, a Leonardo, a Michelangelo(!), and a Degas are all housed in this freeee museum. Although everything in Britain is expensive, the British did something right by making museums free.
The next day, we had a classic Julie-Talia style picnic (minus the wine) in Hyde Park. Afterward we fed the swans and just wandered around the park before heading over to Paddington Station to meet the ever beloved paddington bear! Afterward, we decided to get fish and chips at a pub, and (of course) it started raining.. So we ran into a pub and order fish and chips with garden peas and some cider. When our waitress brought out our food, everything was fine except for the fact that they forgot my fish? The French backpackers at the table next to us thought it was the funniest thing ever and couldn’t stop laughing, and luckily I got my fish shortly after telling the waitress.
On Julie’s last day in London, we did a big loop of the famous things around London. So we went to the Eye, Big Ben, the Birdwalk and Buckingham Palace. Funnily enough, when we got to Buckingham Palace it was right at the changing of the gaurd! What a lovely coincidence! So we got to see the big-hatred soldiers up close.! Unfortunately after we stopped to get tea, Julie had to leave to go back to Texas. Saying goodbye is never easy, but thankfully Texas is closer than Europe. Later that day I stopped by the Household Calvary Museum, where I found a coupon on the ground and got in for only 3£! And in case you were wondering, the big black hard of the queens guard are made of bearskin.
On Wednesday, I headed over to The Tower of London right at opening time. If you’re gonna do it, do it right because A) there are tons of crowds later in the day and B) there’s over 20 acres of stuff to see, so it really takes all day. I definitely highly recommend the Tower of London, but whether it’s because I’m a huge history nerd or because it’s especially wonderful is anyone’s guess. The Crown Jewels were definitely neat to see, but for me the crowing jewel of the museum was the exhibits along the interior wall walk.
Now: a mega warning to everyone.. Never eat pizza with an egg on it. Whoever thought this was a good idea was wrong because after eating aforementioned pizza, I got some sort of horrible stomach thing, that lasted three days… So keep that in mind while you read the rest of my London time, because frequent necessity of a restroom in a continent lacking in free bathrooms is just as terrible as you think. (Luckily, as of writing this I’ve eaten a whole meal and not vomited in over 24 hours! Gott sei dank!)
The next day, I went on a day tour of Stonehenge and Bath. Driving up to Stonehenge and seeing it for the first time was amazing and to be honest, I started to cry at how amazing it was. I only wish we had more time at Stonehenge because we were only there for a little over an hour. Now of course, it being Britain and all, it started to rain right when I went to get a picture with it so, not really sure if those pictures will ever see the light of day. If I hadn’t been super sick, I’m sure I would’ve paid the money to go into the Roman Bath in Bath and loved it, but at that time really all I wanted to do was lie down, but because of the rain I couldn’t really do that… So instead I tried eating a scone and drinking some tea, which was decent enough. I also did some light shopping in Bath and got some delicious fudge, before we headed out.
Friday, my nine hour bus ride from London to Holyhead left at 4:30pm, so I slowly left the hotel, and I even managed to force some water and fruit (half a kiwi and like two grapes, really ambitious, I know) down my throat. Now another mega type: never go anywhere in a bus while you have the stomach flu. Especially not a 9 hour bus ride followed by a 4 hour ferry ride to Dublin. Stupid me even tried to eat a muffin on the ferry, which ended about as well as everyone expected, which is poorly. Luckily I made it to Dublin and I’ve been feeling a lot better after sleeping for like 4 hours in the middle of the day. I’ll post about Dublin / Ireland in the near future, but right now I’m having fun!