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Jordan off-off the beaten track

28 August 2011

Here’s a conceited bit of blogging for you.

I just saw this post at, written by Megan Czisz, about going “off the beaten path” (or track!) in Jordan. Megan defines this as Amman, roast chicken, the King’s Highway, Dana, Petra and Wadi Rum. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is kinda remarkable how the beaten track can magically become off the beaten track in the fervid world of travel blogging.

Greater travel bloggers than I might now branch off into a thoughtful disquisition on themes of familiarity and exoticism in travel and travel writing. Me? I’m going to force you to watch my holiday snaps instead, in the vain – yet, truthfully, altruistic – hope that people doing a search for “Off The Beaten Track in Jordan” don’t come up with Petra and falafel sandwiches and think that’s it.

There’s not much rhyme or reason to these pics. I’ve compressed them a lot (so forgive the pixellation, but please don’t steal them anyway) and I’m not cramming links in either. For more info on Jordan, go and buy a decent guidebook.

Amman isn’t off the beaten track, but its beauty isn’t widely appreciated. This (above) is a snap which says nothing much about anything, but which has got a whiff of atmosphere to it, at least.

As does this.

And this (above) is one of the city’s loveliest cafés, but I’m not going to tell you its name. Since we were mentioning street food, this guy (below) is most definitely ON the beaten track, and he knows it too…

Moving on, there aren’t many places where this happens…

That (above) is Irbid – visual proof that a kindly old fluffy-bearded man in the sky really does beam down on Jordan.

A gentle scene – except those hills behind are the Golan Heights, Syrian territory annexed by Israel. Here’s another view, from above…

That’s the Sea of Galilee behind the bougainvillea. To get to (or from) that terrace, you drive on one of my favourite roads…

It’s pretty quiet. Here’s another place that’s pretty quiet:

That’s the River Jordan. Yes, the River Jordan. It’s no Amazon. When she stands up, the water reaches her knees. The other bank, by the way, is Palestine – the middle of the river is the international border. While we’re on a biblical theme…

Up there, on top, is where Salome danced the dance of the seven veils for old King Herod, and where John the Baptist was separated from his head. Hardly anyone goes there now.

Just a couple of nice landscapes, both from northern Jordan, the sort of place where a boy can sit in a wheelbarrow, pick his nose and call it a good day’s work.

Thinking of curves, how did those 7th-century architects down in the desert get bricks to curve like this?

Silhouettes do nice things sometimes. Amazing how Jordan seems to inspire scenic nose-picking though.

That pic (above) is in Aqaba on the Red Sea coast, a place which is now trying desperately to get on the beaten track, after years off it. Lots of fancy hotels and upmarket construction. But still a touch of atmosphere…


Of handmade olive-oil soap, that is.

At the end of a hard day, there’s always the sunset…

It’s not bad looking this way either.

And even better from this side.

Given a choice, dromedaries (below) always make their own beaten tracks…

And as for whether Jordan is safe to visit or not, best do what the guy says, OK?













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21 Comments leave one →
  1. 28 August 2011 4.49pm

    I’d love to be the one sitting in that wheelbarrow right now, well maybe when the sun has gone down a bit. :)

  2. 28 August 2011 6.23pm

    Beautiful pics. But…how is she swimming in the River Jordan. Surely the Israelis would shoot, no?

  3. 28 August 2011 8.04pm

    Luke – sure. Just keep that index finger clean, eh?

    Sasa – Thank you. I took that pic at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, aka Al Maghtas (the Baptism Site). Pilgrims usually take a dip in the baptismal pools, rather than the river itself (which is muddy and polluted), but this lady wasn’t going to be put off. The other bank – where there’s a rival baptismal site known as Qasr Al-Yahud (googleable) – was deserted at the time: no checkpoints, no visible signs of anyone. The Israelis and Jordanians know that lots of people come to visit the historical sites on both banks; maybe they just lay off the heavy armour. Or maybe they didn’t want to waste ammunition on a sunburnt English lady in a bikini who’d just put down her bible. Even if you tried to infiltrate, I doubt you’d get very far, stinking of sewage, dripping wet, caked in weeds & river-mud…

  4. 29 August 2011 3.12am

    Was that a challenge, Matthew? I identified them all except the cafe in Amman and the street market which could have been anywhere!

  5. 29 August 2011 5.47am

    Not at all, Ruth. The whole idea was big-headed enough anyway, without my issuing knowitall challenges on top ;)

  6. Lianne permalink
    29 August 2011 7.28am

    I don’t know the cafe either? Please share!
    Fun article, love all the picking nose references!

  7. 29 August 2011 7.48am

    The cafe…. Hmmm… It’s not that one down the road from the Lozmilla Hospital in Jabal Weibdeh, is it?

  8. 29 August 2011 8.15am

    OK, well, the cafe is Duinde – no surprise to anyone from Amman, and not really off the beaten track either.

    I didn’t mean this to be a sort of “I know places that you don’t” travellers’ challenge – I think @visitjordan are running competitions like that just now anyway – and it wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of how my “off the beaten track” places are more off the beaten track than anyone else’s, either!

    Just a cackhanded attempt to broaden the horizons a bit, that’s all…

  9. 29 August 2011 8.19am

    *Palm in face* AH! Salam Kanaan’s cafe! Oh my blushes :)

  10. 29 August 2011 8.39am

    No blushes required, Ameen ;-)

  11. 29 August 2011 9.10am

    If I share the name of the cafe are you going to delete my comment? =P it’s Duinde Gallery on Rainbow street, on the corner of the street that takes you to Wild Jordan. A very quirky little place with random grandma’s furniture and lots of art work, owned by artist Salam Kanaan.

  12. 29 August 2011 9.12am

    ooops for some reason my browser didn’t show all the comments until I posted this :s don’t approve my comment about Duinde :) or this one.

  13. 29 August 2011 9.19am

    No worries, Lina – goes against the grain to delete comments… Thank you!

  14. maura permalink
    29 August 2011 3.28pm

    Great pics of Jordan which capture the serenity and solitude one can find if so inclined.And I agree ‘one of the city’s loveliest cafes’ – went there first with a Dutch friend in 2006 and keep going back whenever I am in Amman.

  15. 29 August 2011 9.38pm

    Thank you, Maura.

  16. 5 September 2011 8.58pm

    lovely pics Matthew… here is another article for you… this time in the NYT…

    “IN the traffic-clogged city of Amman, the Jordanian capital, pedestrians are a rare sight. Rainbow Street (bottom right) and the surrounding area, in the historic Jabal Amman neighborhood, is one of the few places where locals can park their cars and stroll, stopping at the many cafes, galleries and boutiques that have opened in the last few years.”

    hmmm… last time I tried to “park my car” to walk up Rainbow, it took me 30 minutes to find a parking spot anywhere near the neighborhood… went up Rainbow street it took me 30 minutes to get from the 1st circle to Duinde… and it wasn’t a Friday… as for parking the car, forget it!!! Friday on the other hand?! is a disaster waiting to happen… how can a whole neighborhood have access by one street only??? what if somebody needs an ambulance on Friday?

    as for the caption under the Golan Heights pic Matthew, last I remember, the Golan Heights were Occupied… no?!

    cheers mate,

  17. 5 September 2011 9.15pm

    Thank you, Yamaan. So true! Rainbow is becoming very difficult indeed…

    I captioned that photo of the Golan Heights “Syrian territory annexed by Israel”. For the Golan and East Jerusalem, Israel went beyond occupation and annexed them both…

  18. 14 December 2011 12.11pm

    I would love to go to Jordan, both to its on- and offbeat tracks. While I think it’s possible to find offbeat angles even in the most touristy places, it’s also true that sometimes the term is used solely to draw attention. I think truly offbeat was a village in the Indian Himalayas I went to in order to attend a traditional wedding, so offbeat that even locals didn’t know the name ;)

  19. Helena permalink
    31 May 2012 11.02am

    It looks/sounds wonderful: the seven veils, roaming dromedaries and artfully silhouetted nose-picking… Blog on.

  20. 31 May 2012 11.15am

    Thank you @Angela and @Helena – so true: offbeat is all in the mind.


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