Saturday, May 18, 2019

Last Day in DC

Le sigh! all good things must come to an end and today is our last day in DC before heading back to reality tomorrow. We decided to check out Eastern Market which is a public market located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, our airbnb host had informed us that during the weekend they have an outdoor flea market which is pretty cool to check out so today being a Saturday, we quickly made our way there.

The flea market turned out to be pretty cool and there were lots of vendors selling everything from jewelry, clothes, art work.......you name it! it was definitely a perfect setting to start a Saturday. We walked around, got some brunch at this one restaurant that had horrible service and was over priced, before discovering food stalls tucked in one corner of the flea market serving dishes from different countries at very reasonable prices, I wanted to scream! (Well, I did scream in my head. I was like what the F**K?! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!" plus a lot of other expletives). To all those people who have told me I always look so calm in stressful situations, trust me........there is usually a riot going on in my mind, I just don't show it. Besides that restaurant fiasco, we had a pretty good time and even bought some stuff to take home with us. I would definitely recommend a visit to the Eastern Market on a weekend to check out the flea market that's held outdoors.








Inside the Eastern Market



After getting our fill of the market we headed to The Wharf, a vibrant mile long stretch along the Potomac river that has restaurants, entertainment and businesses that attract large crowds. I actually just found out that it was the first major waterfront development project aimed at transforming the area and it's only been open since 2017! not too long ago clearly. Anyway, it was hot as balls and we were both sweating like crazy so we headed into one of the restaurants in the area to cool off with drinks while people watching from our seating on the shaded rooftop. Seriously if it's possible to gain 10 pounds within 3 days I think I may have gained that much during this trip. We have been eating a lot of goodies and drinking more than we normally do but hey! we are on vacation so why not? we hang around The Wharf till evening before calling it a day.




Funny story about the photo below, I saw this photographer having a photo session with some clients. After he was done and packing up his gear, I approached him and asked if he could take a photo of us with my phone. My husband was so embarrassed but I figured who better to ask to take our photo than a photographer and what did we have to lose anyway? the photographer shook his head saying no politely. I just smiled before telling him, "that's ok I understand." As soon as I started walking away he called out to me and said he would take one photo. Let's just say my husband was not amused, but in all honesty was it really foul asking the photographer to take our photo? I travel alone a lot so I am used to asking strangers to take my photos. If they say no I retreat but if they oblige I jump at the chance, I mean......why not? the photo does make me laugh though because I look happy as can be while my husband looks so stiff and that's because he was so embarrassed. 


That's it folks! it was a day well spent and we are ready to go back home. We do have a trip coming up in July so do watch out for an update.















Friday, May 17, 2019

Day 2 In Washington DC

Our second day here we decided to head to the National Museum of African American History and Culture which is open everyday from 10 am to 5:30 pm. Entry into the museum is free and if you plan to walk in without an entry pass you can do so during the week starting at 1 pm otherwise you may be required to get an entry pass.

Since we had gone out last night and stayed up till very late, we were able to sleep in and make it to the museum for the walk in hours. There was a long line of people who were waiting to get in and I was worried that we would have to wait for hours but as soon as it got to 1 pm, the line moved pretty quick much to our relief. This is definitely a museum I would recommend, I ILOVED it!!!! I was so engrossed by the exhibitions that I managed to take only one photo inside, who has time to be messing around with their phone for photos when there is a lot of interesting information to be digested?!



I just love this image, so powerful!


We spent about a couple of hours at the museum before leaving. If I was by myself I would have checked out a couple more museums but el esposo was done with museums for the day so we headed to the next spot, U street. This was once considered the heart of black culture in America, it went through a period of decline but it's now a lively vibrant area full of restaurants, bars/lounges, nightclubs etc. We had lunch in the area, wandered around checking out various spots before going back to our airbnb.










At night we headed back out again to see a different side of U street. It was so lively with party goers and music blaring from the various clubs, definitely a place for nocturnals. 



That's it folks! second day in DC went well. All the club hopping we did got me relieving my college days. Initially, listening to some of the music playing I was thinking to myself "some of these lyrics are way too vulgar!'" a few drinks later I was the same one singing along "I'm a bad bitch" I tell you, alcohol can do wonders! and on that note, this "bad bitch" is calling it a night. I feel too old for this! it was fun though.




Thursday, May 16, 2019

Greetings From Washington DC

We are currently in DC celebrating my husband's birthday and since we have only 3 full days here, I want to make sure we squeeze in as much as possible within the short period of time so let's get started on how our first day was spent.

Day One - National Mall

No trip to DC is complete without visiting the National Mall, I mean.......have you really been to DC if you haven't gone to the National Mall? this is the most visited national park in America where you will not only find monuments and memorials honoring famous historical figures of this country but you will also be spoilt for choice with the numerous world class museums to be found here. On our first day we decided to focus on the monuments and memorials because there was just so much to see. The National Mall is not as small as it may appear in maps, the area is actually quite large and that's why the DC Circulator came in handy.

Our very sweet airbnb host recommended that we use the DC Circulator which is a bus system that has a route going around the national mall stopping at the numbered stops seen on the map below. These stops lead to the various monuments, memorials and museums which are of interest. The bus is free and all you have to do is get on and off at whichever stop you want, the bus comes around after every 10 minutes at each stop.


Lincoln Memorial up close




Washington Monument behind me in the picture below



Martin Luther King Memorial


Jefferson Memorial


The US Capitol


The White House...........had to do some serious zooming here! yes, we were that far from the white house.


After we were done with the mall we headed to H street corridor, an artsy neighborhood full of restaurants and bars. We walked around the area, had some lunch then stopped in at this really cool bar for happy hour. Two sangrias later I was tipsy and ready to take a nap, seriously those sangrias were strong!! 

This is the last picture I took before my phone died, Aaargh! don't you just hate that?! I didn't get to take more photos of the various cool spots along H street.


That's it folks! first full day in DC went very well and we closed the night at this nightclub that had a live salsa band. Needless to say, el esposo had a wonderful birthday so my mission for the day was accomplished, now let's see how the next couple of days will go. Stay tuned!




























Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Jordan Travel Tips

Get a Jordan Pass here prior to your arrival if you are thinking of visiting Jordan, it will save you so much money. Coming from the US I got my visa fees of (40 JD/$56) waived when I showed my pass and I did not have to pay entrance fees in certain touristic sites because of the pass.

Jordan is not as cheap as you may assume, $1 is 0.71 JD (Jordanian Dinar). With that being said, don't change too much money at the airport because their rates aren't the best and they have commission fees included. Change enough for a taxi then once you get into the city, go to one of the many western unions around to change your money.

A taxi from the airport into the city should cost you about 20 JD. You can use Uber in Amman although it's technically not legal and drivers found picking up Uber rides are fined. Uber is seen as major competition to taxis within the city so there is major pushback against it.

It's a good idea to get a local SIM card for your phone but that depends entirely on you. I ended up getting one at the airport and it came really handy for me, the provider I used was Orange and I had no complaints whatsoever.

If you are thinking of checking out different cities outside Amman, use the JETT bus which is very convenient. They have packages where you can visit several sites within a round trip thus saving you the hustle of doing it all on your own, the buses drop you then the driver announces when departure is so you can do your own thing and come back to the bus when it's ready to leave.

There are two JETT offices in Amman where you can get your tickets to other cities, JETT Abdali and JETT 7th circle. For Petra get your tickets at JETT Abdali, for Jerash and Madaba get your tickets at JETT 7th circle. Buses leave for Petra everyday of the week but for Madaba and Jerash the buses leave on specific dates so you have to check the schedule on the JETT website.

Carry an adaptor just incase, in Wadi Musa I had to go looking for one as the sockets were not compatible to my laptop and telephone chargers. Thank goodness I was able to find out easily.

If going to Petra and you decide to use the help of a guide, mention that you would like to check out the monastery so that they can give you guidance on what shortcut to use so that you end up seeing all the sites. I found this out too late unfortunately, the route I used to get really good aerial views of Petra was physically challenging because I was climbing up and down a lot so by the time I got to the royal tombs I was too exhausted to continue to the Monastery, I probably would have made it had I not carried my backpack. Can you see all the sites in one day? sure! but now I see why 2 days is recommended. Unfortunately I just didn't have enough time.



Be very careful on which random person approaches you in Petra suggesting to guide you, there are professional guides you can get at the entrance but some of us who are always looking to get things on the cheap decided to use someone who was not a certified guide for half the price. I was lucky that  it turned out well for me but he was telling me that some people are malicious and greedy so they can lead you to a trail that is very tricky and then start extorting more money from you knowing that you will have no choice but to give in since you can not make it out of the trail by yourself. All I can say is that if you chose not to use a certified guide and opt for any random person that offers you a cheap price, you are taking a risk.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Amman

Today was such a wonderful day! it is my last full day before departing Jordan so I had decided to take it easy and sleep the whole morning before meeting up with my very sweet taxi buddy called Fadi. Amman is the capital city of Jordan and I think a day is enough to see the city's highlights so saving the exploration of it for the last day had been my plan after having seen the other top sites that I was more interested in checking out.

Fadi had volunteered his own time to show me around the city............no strings attached by the way so don't get any weird ideas. In the afternoon at the agreed time, he showed up and off we went. The first stop was at the Amman citadel which is located on the highest of the seven hills that the city is built on. 

This area holds a lot of history of various ancient civilizations that occupied it so any history buff would have a field day here. Since the site is on the highest hill in the city, the views are amazing and it is an ideal place to relax and take in all that's around you.







Everyone, meet Fadi my taxi buddy and the sweetest dude ever!  thanks to him I got to check out spots in Amman that I never would have known off.



After getting done at the Citadel, our next stop was at the Roman Theatre which by the way you can see from the citadel. The Roman Theatre is impressively huge and has a seating capacity of 6000 people. It was built in the 2nd century AD during the Roman period and was restored by the Jordanian government in 1957, it is important to note that none of the original materials were used but you can still appreciate the very impressive structure.


The Roman Theatre is in downtown Amman so after we were done checking out the site, we decided to walk around the busy downtown area where Fadi took me to all these hidden gems where locals frequent. Nothing beats getting to know a city with a local and I was so appreciative.




I got a taste of a couple of typical Jordanian desserts and although I have a sweet tooth, I have to admit that the desserts I have had here are way too sweet for me. I sure met my match!

Halawet El Jibn (Sweet cheese rolls) - I actually really did like this one, Its made of cheese with sprinkling of pistachio on top.


Kanafeh - Made of cheese, and fine semolina dough soaked in a sweet syrup. We got this at a sweet shop called Habibah that is very popular with the locals, there was actually a long line to order.


That's it folks! I had a very good time getting to know Amman from a local's perspective and it was fun hanging out with Fadi. From the first day I met him when I hailed his taxi, he was so helpful in giving me tips about the city and advising me on places to go. When I would make day trips from Amman he would send his brother to pick me up in the morning and drop me off at the bus station then in the evening when I would come back to Amman, he would be waiting for me at the bus station. I came to Jordan not knowing a soul and left having gained a friend. 

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Amman and Wadi Musa are very hilly so be prepared to get your work out on, seriously after my trip I deserve to have lost at least 5 pounds because of all the walking I have done. Who needs a gym when you can find it right outside your door.

I have really enjoyed my time in Jordan and to be honest with you, I wouldn't mind making another trip here to see more places.  

Arabic seems like such a hard language to learn, it sounds really beautiful in songs and I have been enjoying listening to it. 

People don't flush used toilet paper in most places here, there is usually a bin on the side to dispose of it. I am so used to doing this in other places that I have traveled to in the past so I no longer cringe about it like I used to.

The weather sucked when I first landed here and now that I am leaving, the sun is shining bright and its not as cold. Damn! it, I got cheated out of good vacation weather. At least I never let it interfere with my plans.

Time to go to bed now, I am so sleepy and I have to get up early. If you are reading this, I hope you have enjoyed my updates. Do visit Jordan if you can, it is a wonderful place full of history and very nice friendly people.