Sunday, September 2, 2012

Petra on horseback and a last dinner at Five Grill in Amman

Photo from Four Seasons Amman
Good morning from another airport lounge at a very early hour in the exotic city of Amman, on my way to Tel Aviv for a short visit to Israel after an all too short visit to Jordan.

I woke up at 330 AM, answered emails at 4 AM and was out of the Four Seasons Amman and into their cool Jaguar for the ride to the airport at 5 AM -- with my 40 kgs of luggage and all.



Thank goodness Royal Jordanian Airlines has a separate check-in terminal for business class as I was late as usual.

But the delay didn't matter in the end because the terminal was completely empty when I got there at 530 AM and I was out of the car and in the lounge in five minutes, and back online.



I had a very long and full day yesterday as I spent most of the day in Petra.

Petra has been at the very top of my bucket list for a long time and I'm so glad I finally decided to go. What an amazing place it truly is.

I've been to many amazing wonders of the world and UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves in India, Ephesus in Turkey, and all the landmark heritage sites of Sri Lanka -- but I have to say that Petra is really something else.

It took my breath away.

UP, UP AND AWAY

I actually rode a horse from the outer entrance of Petra to the inner entrance, just before the long narrow pathway to the inner sanctum. It was hot and the options were to ride the horse or to walk.

I had a horse when I was a child, which I rode fairly frequently until I was stupid enough one day to walk behind it and it kicked me in the face and I fell over. I never rode a horse again after that, until yesterday.



The road down by horseback is quite rocky and initially I was anxious after decades of no contact with horses except at the Manila Polo Club Polo Cup championships every year -- and of course that doesn't count.

But, as this is my year of challenges and adventures, I said: what the heck.

So on the back of that horse I got.

THE VIEW FROM UP HIGH



What a wonderful view of Petra I got from the back of that horse.

And then once I got to the entrance of the narrow path between mountains, I got off my horse and walked the rest of the way into the inner sanctum. I shall write more about this visit in an upcoming issue of Travelife Magazine.

For now, let me assure you that it's worth the trip.

I'm not one for long drives, so I commandeered the entire back of the van for myself, transporting the pillows from the Four Seasons Amman for the drive, and buckets of ice. With these and my iPod, I was very comfortable for the trip.

WHAT'S ON MY IPOD

Throwing It All Away
Genesis

Have I Told You Lately
Van Morrison

Hate That I Love You
Rihanna

Jetlag
Natasha Bedingfield

Scroll down to read about Amman's coolest nightspot...




LONG WAY FROM HOME

It's a three-hour drive from Amman, which means six hours roundtrip; and if you decide to break it up, there are two good hotels in the area that I can recommend.

I had lunch in one of them yesterday, and it was a lovely hotel with adequate facilities even for finicky travelers.

THE MOST CHIC NIGHTSPOT IN AMMAN

Photo from Four Seasons Amman
Then I returned in time for dinner at Five Grill and Lounge, the outdoor lounge of the Four Seasons Amman  that just opened recently.

It was hopping on a Saturday night and the lounge music was so nice that I ended up staying way longer than I should have (considering I had to wake up at 330 AM this morning to make it for my flight), enjoying the music, the cool breeze, and the chic vibe.



The food was very good as well.

I didn't have much expectations -- I got the impression that it was a lounge for hanging out rather than for dining; but it is the best one in Amman right now and one that everyone is now talking about.

I ordered an Angus tenderloin steak with all the trimmings, and it was excellent. So, yes, it does live up to its name as a grill as well.



To add to the festivities, there was a very classy but traditional Syrian wedding going on below, in the hotel gardens, complete with a coterie of traditional singers (I don't know what else to call them, but they're the guys who do the singing chants for good luck at Arabic festivities) and all the guests in their finest Arabic attire.

What a spectacle and great entertainment for dinner.

What a wonderful way to end my short stay in Jordan. And now on to Israel for the next adventures in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

PS: If you're looking for a quality and reliable tour company in Jordan, this is the one I used. Mention you saw this on Travelife so that Mr. Ayyad will offer you special service.



ASHTAR TOURS
www.ashtartours.com



Mr. Ayyad Ayyad
Tel +962-6-586-5454
travel@ashtartours.com






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