Jordan. Undoubtedly one of the most underrated countries in the world.
Growing up, I had a hard time explaining to my American peers where Jordan was, what it was famous for and what there was to do there.
To this day, as an adult I still meet many people who are unfamiliar with Jordan. Upon encountering these types of people, I usually step up onto my soapbox to preach about how beautiful Jordan is and how they should visit.
Here are some of the things included in my soapbox speeches about Jordan…
Of course, you have to be a typical tourist and visit Petra. It’s really one of the most magical places you will ever see. The quaint little town of Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses) lies almost below sea level.
Just on the outskirts of this desert microcosm are the giant walls of the valleys it is named after. Being an Arab touring Petra, I was in awe at the wonders of this place. I even felt a tinge of pride seeing the work of my Nabatean forefathers.
In Petra you’ll see the beautiful temples built by the Nabateans, their homes which are still etched into the giant walls of the valley, and ride a camel led by a Bedouin, who really can trace his ancestry back to the Nabateans.
Enter Rainbow Street
On a more local Jordanian level, one must spend at least every other night on Rainbow Street.
Positioned perfectly atop a hill promising amazing views of Amman, Rainbow Street is home to an assortment of amazing falafel shops, hookah cafes and ice cream vendors.
The street is always packed with families, college students and just kids having fun. Must see!
Enter Wust El Balad
For a really traditional baladi experience, there is Wust El Balad. Start the trip at Hashem. This is a local falafel and hummus street shop, renowned for its authenticity. It has been visited by the royal family of Jordan on numerous occasions, despite its very simple atmosphere and lack of physical walls.
As you continue, you’ll walk through an expansive outdoor market where you can buy hand stitched traditional Palestinian dresses, and other handmade goodies.
My favorite part of the city was stumbling across a book seller … right in the middle of the street!
He had his own little library set up – stacks upon stacks of books – in every language you can imagine about every topic you could think of. If there’s a place to snag some Ghassan Kanafani and Mahmoud Darwish, it’s there!
An event I never miss when in Jordan is the annual music festival held in Jerash.
You can wander in the Roman ruins there, where you will see an assortment of different performances, some available to the public and others requiring ticket entry.
Arab singers from all over the Middle East perform, but so do smaller lesser known bands that are just starting up. You can enjoy a night of music and a great outdoor bazaar in one of the most ancient sites in the world!