lesiure


So this is a stretch for a number of reasons including my lack of knowledge of this city, so here goes nothing…

1- Go for a walk on the Ain Mrayseh Cornish next to the sea and walk all the way to the light house- its free

2- Have a manousheh or Lahmeh b3ajeen- depending on where you get it from its 1$- 3$

3- Have cheesecake at Bread Republic in Hamra – its pricey but worth it. If you get the coffee you may jump the 10$ mark.

4- For as little as a dollar you can ride the old Ferris wheel by the sea side and they will stop you at the top and you can look out to sea from way up high!

5- Go to Dawra and try and find an Ethiopian restaurant, the food is interesting and the quizzing looks on the faces of the Lebanese when you tell them you are looking for an Ethiopian restaurant are amusing! It’s a treasure hunt that is rewarded with a big meal at the end. It would cost about 10 dollars.

6- Walk through the streets of Gemayzeh and Achrafieh to look at some old buildings that are quaint.

7- The national museum is tiny and a bit boring, unless you take note of three things in there that tell you more about the modern history of the city rather than the ancient one on display, the clue is look for the artifacts that have been affected by the civil war- FASCINATING. Ticket is a few dollars.

8- This might put you over the ten dollar budget but I highly recommend you splurge on an Armenian meal- the food is different and really good. Try myrig or mayas for a nice meal.

9- Take a walk through AUB- it’s the greenest spot in the whole city and can be very relaxing.

10- One of my favorite things to do on a Monday night is to go to this tiny little place called l’ Osteria in Mar Mikhail to listen to some live music. An orange juice is 3 or 4 dollars, have more and you jump the budget- but its worth listening to, especially if you sit outside on the street. The music starts at 9:00 pm.

I’d love to hear more about what to do in Beirut for under 10 dollars from others to since I am still exploring this city and trying to learn more about it. So add a comment with your favorite things to do here and lets go exploring!

I love this city and I love all it has to offer. I don’t believe I need to spend excessive amounts of money to enjoy myself here. And since I am always asked what should one do in the city – well here are 10 ideas that cost less than 10 JD to enjoy. Some of them even cost less!

1- Take any one of tens of stairs leading downtown from the surrounding Jabals- the ones in Jabal Amman are especially charming.
Cost: Zero

2- Enjoy a meal at any one of these restaurants- they have all been around for ages and are considered institutions amongst Ammannis:
• Hashem, downtown- 24 hour service in the heart of the city
• Al Quds restaurant, downtown- great traditional foods- must try the molokhia, & the crème caramel
• The Orient Bar aka Abu Ahmad, downtown- amazing grilled meats – must try the 3arayes
• Habiba, Downtown- Knafeh, knafeh, knafeh
• Tamriet Omar, Second Circle- Tamrieh and other traditional sweets
• Falafel Al Quds, Rainbow Street- Falafel sandwiches
• Shawerma Reem, Second Circle- Meat Shawerma (I’m not a fan but it’s a must to have had at least one if you live in Amman or are visiting)
Cost: Anywhere between 0.300 JD – 8 JD

3- A walk through Jabal Alweibdeh and its galleries. These include: The National Gallery for Arts, Makan, Darat Al Funun, Dar Al Anda, Darat Al Tasweer, and Mo7taref Al Rimal.
Cost: JD 3 entrance to the National Gallery

4- Making a kite in Jabal Al Qala’a- Befriend one of the kids and have them teach you.
Cost: 2- 3 JD

5- Walk through the Jabal Amman neighborhoods around the first and second circles in the cool summer night and smell the amazing jasmine bushes.
Cost: Zero

6- Sit out on a street café on Rainbow street. I highly recommend Duninde Café for the quiet cozy atmosphere and the hustle and bustle is a lot less on that end of the road.
Cost: A cup of coffee is about 3 JD

7- Sit on the hillside of Jabal Alweibdeh (the side facing Jabal Amman and the road leading downtown) and listen to the call to prayer vibrate and resonate through the valleys. Its so beautiful.
Cost: Zero

8- Find a good look out spot to East Amman in Jabal Amman and watch the day end and sunset reflected on the opposite hills. The colors are magnificent.
Cost: 0 – 5 JD depending on your choice of spot and beverage selection.

9- For an explosion of colors, sounds, smells and tastes walk through the vegetable markets of downtown. There are two a covered one and an outdoor one. Both are fun, noisy loud places.
Cost: Zero if you can resist buying the fresh produce!

10- Joining the Fast Walk on a Sunday or Wednesday evening for a power walk with over 100 people! The walks explore the city with 8 different routes leading you through the back streets of Amman on foot.
Cost: Zero

Feel free to share or start your own lists. I’d love to hear how you enjoy this city. Especially if you can do it for under 10 JD 😉

This past Eid holiday I decided very impulsively to go to Beirut. Everyone knows that Beirut is the playground of the Middle East, or should I say the night club of the Middle East? I have made numerous trips in which to partake in the bustling night life of a city that truly doesn’t sleep. But this time it was different, very different.

 

This time it was a trip into the mountains, a trip to the sea, north, south and east we went. Meeting friends and their families, I got to see Lebanon from a whole other perspective. In Alay I played with statues and sculptures, constructed and created there during sculpting symposiums since 2000. It was a lot of fun walking around them, touching them, sitting on them, contemplating them, and of course photographing them. Ending the day looking at the sun set over the Mediterranean from an old family home.

 

In the south we walked through old costal cities with citadels and old towns still in use with people living among ruins or in old ancient homes. Walkways, arches, and old stones spoke of a rich history that needs to be visited and explored again and again. And in between Saidah and Sour we detoured to a stream that was nestled near a hill. It was so inviting that I waded in and just stood there in clear refreshing water. We also went further south to land that was occupied and now free, we went to Qana and visited the sites of massacres (I will write later about this experience).

 

And after visiting the south, we went north the next day. Up into the hills where we hiked down stairs that snaked down the side of a mountain. We stopped numerous times to look down at the beautiful Mediterranean cost, shimmering below us. At the bottom of the stairs lay a small monastery in honor of The Virgin that appeared in light to two wandering souls. The men lived there where they saw her and worshipped in a cave.  The view was phenomenal and all we could think of was driving down and diving into the sea; and so we followed the road down to where it met the coast and though we couldn’t dive in we swam in clear deep waters.

 

It was a short trip and what time we spent in Beirut was spent by the sea or walking on foot. The city is a concrete jungle of many identities. It is a beautiful old lady. The obsession of the Lebanese with cosmetic surgery extends to their capital. The city is tired and old but it has been reconstructed, botoxed and made up in places, while others were being prepped for surgery; but throughout it all you can find pockets of authenticity and original beauty, still untouched. Beirut is a testament to its history even though there are no historical places to visit. You can find the beautiful old facades of colonial times and you can find the bombed out craters of a time past, new plazas and modern buildings are dispersed throughout the city, alongside preservation efforts. Beirut is a place you walk through aimlessly rather than with purpose.

 

Aimlessly, I went to Lebanon and I had a marvelous time. Lebanon and not just Beirut is a playground with something to offer every traveler. Next time you are in Lebanon try to go away from the shops, restaurants, bars and clubs and enjoy the country. Walk through its varied places. Enjoy it as it can be a very relaxing place with out all the night stimuli. 

 

Last night I took my first walk of the summer. I have been meaning to do that for nearly two months but I finally found the time and energy last night. My route is in Jabal Amman. I love the area. I love how pedestrian friendly it is, how familiar it is, how cozy it all is. But this was my first walk after the renovations of Rainbow Street have been completed. Walking in my favorite streets I noticed the difference.  

 

Rainbow street now has wider pavements, seating areas and in general more pedestrians. People are now walking, sitting, playing and using the whole street. It has brought some life back to the area. But I do hate how there is too much lighting in the street every few meters there is a big bright yellow light bulb. I am someone who likes light but this is too much. I enjoy walking in the dark for many reasons including the privacy it offers, especially since I sing and talk to myself during my walks. Now I feel like there is a spot light following me whenever I am walking down Rainbow Street. And don’t get me started with how eco friendly this all is! The explanations I have heard are that this way immoral behavior can not take place on this street. Laughable no?

 

But back to the walk, the neighborhood should be renamed Jasmine because of all the lovely jasmine trees planted in just about every house. The streets all have their own smells but the small delicate flower of the Jasmine and its heady scent somehow manage to over power these smells and it makes my walks all the more pleasurable. So come walk with me and smell the jasmine in Jabal Amman.

 

 

Amman is a land locked city, in fact if it weren’t for the Dead Sea and the Port of Aqaba all of Jordan would not have any water bodies to look out to. These two tiny places offer some relief from the desert landscape that surrounds us. I’ve recently visited both places and was irked by these visits as much as I have been relaxed by them.

When visiting either place you can spend nothing to enjoy them, or a fortune. There are public places where you can sit and see the waves lap up and the sun set very beautifully. But God forbid you want to go to a cafe and just sit and drink a cup of coffee. As soon as you are at the door of one of the resorts these cafes and restaurants are housed in you are asked to fork over a payment for a meal ticket or an entrance fee, or better yet have a reservation to spend the night.

This is ridiculous and aggravating. With so few options in either place this policy is discriminatory. The minimum entrance to any of the Dead Sea resorts is JD 15 on a weekday. I have yet to pay JD 15 for a cup of coffee and I’ll be damned if I am forced to consume more food just to sit somewhere for 30 minutes! It is not good value for money in any way. I can always bring my own cup of coffee and find myself a nice quiet rock to sit on elsewhere on the beach.  But this isn’t about the money. To me it’s about exclusion, when you create such a policy you are widening the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.

I’m not rich, but I am not poor either, I can afford the “fees” to get into these resorts, yet I consistently choose not to enter. I work hard for my money and so I choose how to spend it, I even try to make wise choices! But to be forced to spend a minimum amount for the privilege of a brand name resort, that is something I can do without. I don’t want to have to pay my way into places like that, to me it is not a wise investment, nor is the value for money worth it for me. When I spend my money I like to spend it freely and by choice.

This policy of exclusion based on finance is clearly creates a bigger and bigger divide between the rich and the poor. The middle class caught in between is more and more often having to choose sides. Once again I choose to be in the have-nots.