Need tips for Jordan, Syria and Lebanon

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  1. I have a vaccation planned for early January. I'm gonna fly into Amman in Jordan and fly out from Lebanon. I need tips for good things to do, stay and eat within these three countries.

    So far I planned to go to Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan. I'm gonna skip Aqaba and the Dead Sea since I think it will be to cold anyway. In Syria I want to go to Aleppo and I'm gonna take the bus from Damascus to Beirut.

    I haven't done a lot of research yet so any suggestion is much appreciated.
  2. I know Aleppo. First thing is the history - must visit the Citadel in the center of town and the nearby housing that's a World Heritage site. Also, try to stay in one of the historic hotels around that area. More like converted homes, some well over a hundred years old. Do hit the old souk by the Citadel (Khan Al Shooneh) for some handmade items - if you can, take a local or native arabic speaker or else you'll be taken for a good ride by the merchants.

    Secondly, the food, the food, the food. It's a gastronomist's heaven. Check out this thread on the Lonely Planet for a food list of restaurants - the most popular are Bayt Wakil and Bayt Sisi ("bayt" means "house" in arabic).

    Local goodies you must try:
    Syrian ice cream, pulverized while you watch, topped with crushed pistachios.
    Muhammara, a dip made from sweet local Aleppo peppers and walnuts.
    Every variation of kibbeh you can find. And there are plenty - baked, fried or grilled.
    Quince jam (called "safarjal"), if you can find it.
    Chocolate from Ghraoui - must have the chocolate covered orange peel, and cocoa almonds.

    The weather is going to be pretty cold, with snow a hit or miss.

    I'll be a first-timer in Beirut myself mid-November. Can't wait!
  3. Thanks so much. I love great food so I'm gonna check out your recommendations.

    Well, I'm really hoping it want snow. I know it can happen but I'm crossing my fingers it won't. I have enough of that at home :smile: Please let me know how Beirut was. I've been wanting to go there for years, but then the war came along and I postponed it. Now I'm finally going!
  4. So I'm taking it, this is not the most common vacation spots? :smile:
  5. I would go to those places...but it's way out of my budget!
  6. I spent two weeks in Israel and a few days in Jordan.

    We stayed in Petra at the Movenpick. We went in February and they had snow ~ they told us it never snows there. Our tour bus was snowed in at the hotel for an extra day. On the bus we had an armed guard that always sat in the back with his gun across his chest ~ kind of unsettling....

    beautiful country......loved Jersualem and Bethlehem and we did go to the dead sea which was slimy and smelled. Also the Sea of Galilee took a boat ride and near by the Sermon on the Mount was very moving the way your voice travels across the land. And in Jerusalem followed the Via Dolorosa and visited the stations and the tomb.

    My trip was more religious since I went with a church group.......

    I would love to go back again someday.

    Here is a link to the hotel we stayed at ~
  7. Would love to travel to these countries!

    Have a great time!
  8. Thanks kristenmi123. I went to Israel and Palestina this year, but I never had the chance to go to Jordan so that's why I'm doing it now. We went early January and it was really warm. I really hope it want snow this year.
  9. I'm bumping this one up and hope someone has more info to share :smile:
  10. the last time I was in the Lebanon was 1999.. but I have friends that go there often because they have relatives there.

    One thing I will tell you.. the Lebanese LOVE to party.. and they dress for it... Beirut is very, very cosmopolitan.. it's the Paris of the Middle East. (and more recently, the NY Times called it the "Provincetown of the Middle East")

    Don't know if it's still there, but there was a great place called "Jenneh" (paradise) in Beit Merry.. not sure of the spellings.. at the time it was a prix fixe night of endless food with folk dancing and belly dancing, a fortune teller.. a real Arabic night (we call "sahra") :smile:

    If you like shopping, Rue Hamra in Beirut. There are also your typical malls with the typical chain stores.. Rue Hamra/Hamra Street is more boutique-y

    I haven't been to Syria or Jordan in probably 30 years...but I'm guessing the Souk elHamadiyeh in Damascus is still there since it's's a bazaar type of market place.. I was a young girl at the time, but what an experience. (and yes, take a native speaker if you can and just keep your purse close to you)

    I really don't remember Jordan all that much.. it was a LONG time ago.. but my brother just went and LOVED it.
  11. ^
    if you came two years ago, it was the snow of the century! about the armed guard: everywhere you have armed guards around - actually one of the reasons why Jordan is such a safe place to come.

    Mediana: Petra is of course a must, Rum is fun but can be very cold, I would think about the Dead Sea, at least for a day. in Amman you should see the Roman theatre, downtown souk for the traditional Arabic thing and maybe do a bus tour around town (tourist wise not that much to do),and if you have transportation and time go to Madaba (30 mins South) to see the famous mosaic in the Church - also nice for an afternoon stroll. in Amman you should also go for a round walk from the first circle along rainbow street - cute coffee shops and quirky little boutiques. for tourist souvenirs I don't suggest myself the typical stuff but a new boutique at the third circle which sells sort of fashion t-shirts - I check on the name and come back to this thread.

    for eating out: depends on what you want to experience; for Arabic breakfast (falal, hommous, foul) i suggest to go to abu jbara in Madina Street - it is quite a nice location. for the 'real' feel you could think about Hashem downtown but I don't like it as you are sitting at the street (too much traffic). if you are into a bit fancier restaurants I suggest Fakhri El Dein or Tanourin (they have an alcohol licence) and I would ask the hotel to book a table for you, for the bedouin feel you could go to Reem El Bawadi. I would use Mumayaz Taxi to go everywhere in the evening (only 'callable' taxi company) ! I have to admit that occassionally yellow cab drivers would overcharge tourists. if you want to see all the fancy rich people get wild on the weekend, Abdoun has bars etc to offer - cant suggest anything myself as I really don't have time to go out but I will check with others if you are interested.

    please make sure to not take any pics of hotels, embassies, that kind of thing (all armed guarded) as it is not longer legal and they will kick up a fuss for security reasons. Jordan is my second home now and I have never felt scared or anyone treating me badly, people are ridiculously welcoming. I am guessing you are not that many days here so I would stay in one of the first class hotels - that is a budget question of course and there is a very new Ibis and a Holiday Inn in town. can't seriously suggest any really 'cheap' hotel. since you are going to Syria, take any sweets from there, they are out of this world but if you want to take something from here, get a box of Zalatimo's mamoul (you can even get that at the airport).

    any other questions, pm me! :smile:
  12. I dont know much about those countrys, but I know the music damn well!

    Okay first we have the number ones,

    Haifa Wehbe (The looks) and Nancy Ajram (The voice)
    Other very talented celebs in the middle east you must listen some songs about:
    Rola Saad
    Najwa Karam
    Carole Samaha
    Fadl Shaker
    Tamer Hosny
    Amr Diab

    Try youtube. The music really gets you into the modern-arab vibe, and who knows when you are out partying in Beirut, WICH IS A MUST TO DO, you will reccornise some songs and know what kind of moves and sounds you can expect.


  13. #13 Dec 23, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2010
    Thanks Olga and Lara for your helpful recs. It's only about a week left and we haven't planned much yet. We decided to take it as it comes. We will arrive in Amman and spend a day or two. After that we'll take a cab down to Petra and hopefully experience Petra by night. I emailed the visitors center but they never replied back. I have no idea if they have it in the winter or not. We will then spend a whole day in Petra. I think it will be enough for us. After that we will continued to Wadi Rum and then down to Aqaba where we'll fly to Aleppo in Syria. That's about it so far :smile:
  14. just be respectful of the local customs (especially with dress in more modest areas).. be cautious but friendly.. learn a few Arabic words (good morning, please, thank you, etc).. and have fun!

    Arabs pride themselves on hospitality :smile:
    You'll have a great time.
  15. I was in Lebanon this summer and its beautiful, it was my first time.
    You can do whatever you want to in beirut, it offers a lot of activities.
    We went for hiking and ofourse see all the musuems and other interesting architeture sites.
    You do need to be careful as not every cab has a meter. You need to negiotiate a good price I guess.
    Try and ask the hotel you stay in to arrange for your transport that seemed to be the cheapest and the most convenient for me.
    You must see the armenian suq, very interesting and lively.
    About the attire, beirut is quite open and has a french feeling to it so you dont need to be worried about the clothing