Sunday, 25 July 2010

Away from Amman: A walk in Callas

I have already told you about the small village in the south of France where I grew up. So I am just going to share some pictures from this lovely place. When I was there this summer I didn’t really do anything else than stay at home, relaxing and enjoying looking at Bibs play in the shadow of the wisteria, turntables or the olive trees from my mum's garden. And of course go for walks with Bibs… Hope you like the pictures!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Away from Amman: A day at London Zoo

At least we had one day with really nice weather while we were in the UK! It happened to be the day we had decided to take Bibs to the zoo. We had a lovely day out and Bibs adored all the animals. London zoo is located in Regent's park, easily accessible by car or by public transport (with a little walk). We parked our car at the zoo car park which was £12.50 and bought the entrance tickets there: £18 +donation per adult - so not exactly a cheap day out... You can also buy your tickets online, not a bad idea if it's busy there can be quite a queue.

It was so nice to see a canal, big very green trees. The canal cuts the zoo in two.

In the center of the park you have this large plaza with restaurants, shops.

The zoo runs a program "keeper for a day" - it costs a small fortune, £270, but for those who love animals it a fab gift. You get to feed some animals (incl. the big cats!). Am sure it is an unbelievable experience.

There is a butterfly garden, where they fly around freely. Very beautiful.

That one is a double butterfly

And this one is enormous. So big it looked unreal!

There is also a monkey garden, where you can walk and the monkeys are in the trees and on the ropes around you! I would just add that they are a bit more afraid that some monkeys I met in Langkawi, Malaysia during our honeymoon.

@ London Zoo
In the mangrove, Langkawi, Malaysia

There is no elephant at the zoo in London, so these are Bibs' top 2 favorites: the Gorilla and the Giraffe!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Away From Amman: Our favorite restaurants in London...

I have to admit, one of the reasons we went to London during the holidays is for the food. So, here are our top 4 restaurants in London!

I'll start with the one we missed the most, Royal China. Lunch or dinner - doesn't matter. Lunch is obviously for the dim sum - which is definitely one of the best in London. You cannot reserve a table and if you arrive a little later than 12.30pm you'll end up queueing for ages. But it is worth it... There are 2 restaurants from the same group located on Baker Street, the other is Royal China Club - a more refined and more expensive version, but also excellent.

Entrance to Royal China, located on Baker Street

My favorites: Dim Sum: Roast Pork Puff (left) - Pork and Radish Dumpling (right)

The second is a small Malaysian Restaurant located next to China Town. It is located down a small alley called Rupert Court and I just realise that I don't even know the name, but it is down the alley on your right, when you arrive from Chinatown! The food is yummy, the portions huge, the service nothing to write home about, the check: about £10 ahead. (Just checked on the Net, it's called C&R Cafe!).

The place is tiny, actually more of a cafe style than a proper restaurant

Left: nasi lemak; Center: Singapore laksa; Right: roti canai

The last one is not something we used to do every time we drove into London. There is a sushi bar located in Harrods - and it is amazing. Very expensive (too expensive) - the fish though is very very good. It is always busy, doesn't matter the time.

A plate like the one in the middle is about £25 (without the Miso soup)

There are so many places to choose from in London, but we do like Asian food and miss it a lot. We also managed to eat Indian from 3 different restaurants as well (well 2 Indians and 1 Bangladesh) - but probably the best we know is called Madhus Brilliant in Southall. The thing about Southall is that you have the impression of being transported to India. Shame I don't have any pictures... But don't hesitate to have a look at the website, the food is amazing and very different from other Indian's you might get. The famous chef Gordon Ramsay has just been in preparation of his next tv series.

Bon Appetit!

Away From Amman: In the small town of Marlow

About 30 miles west of London, there is a lovely and charming small town called Marlow. It is located on the river Thames ans is surrounded by a lovely countryside. It's not very far from where we used to live.

Views of Marlow

River Thames - There is a rowing regatta every year, one of the first of the year.

You can read more about the things to see in Marlow here.

But obviously, there is another reason for us going to Marlow, on such a small visit to the UK. Well, in the States there is Abercrombie and Fitch, in the UK there is Jack Wills; and in Marlow there is the cutest shop ever. It's located in a town house, the rooms are too small to take nice pics, but here is the style...

Like everything fashionable, the clothes doesn't come cheap. However they have some good sales and of course there is also their factory outlet in Bicester.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Away from Amman: Bicester! let's go shopping

Located in Oxfordshire, about an hour's drive from London, is the small town of Bicester and its factory outlet. If I am not mistaken it is the closest to London - not 100% sure though. You can reach it by train as well, departure from Marylebone train station and then there are shuttles to the outlet or an express bus from several places in central London. It's one of our favorite shopping places in the UK and with the years it has grown nicely, it has 130 shops from Dior, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, but also Villeroy & Boch, Bose or Bvlgari. I tell you shopping heaven - you name it you have it. I got the most amazing Hugo Boss jeans for £25!

We had lunch at Villandry, a french bistrot, with a lovely atmosphere, really good and fresh food.

When you have finished shopping and if you are driving you could always drive the 15 miles to Blenheim Palace; it is a World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. We haven't been, but it looks amazing and the gardens as well.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

London here we come!

I have a day full of packing to do in front of me. Amazingly enough, even though I have packed a fair amount of times in my life, I am still rubbish. I have tried to make lists but I still manage to forget things and Bobs usually ends up without his belt or socks and me without my hairbrush! But I can't forget Bibs' things, can I? So very methodically this morning I went through all her things and took everything I think she might need - well everyhting that I saw. But no illussion though I will forget something, it's for sure.

We are flying BMI and that's a premier so let's see how it goes. I started with sending them an email requesting a bassinet for Bibs and to get seats on the front row - but apparently these seats are taken and the bassinet can only be requested at the airport. I don't know where to put the bassinet anyways if we don't have the row in front of the partition wall... I hope for them that it's families with babies at these seats or somebody else who really needs them otherwise they'll be dealing with a fat complain... hm not impressing service - but let's see, I might get pleasantly surprised. Pleasantly surprised by an airline? doesn't happen that often though.

The weather forecast for London is not too bad, only a couple of days with rain, but the temperatures will be much cooler and that's nice - they have forecasted 38 degrees here tomorrow and that's in the shadow and that's hot! So s drop around 15 degrees is appreciated. Well, they are the temperatures we will be coming back to in 3 weeks time.
We don't have internet connection where we are going, well unless we can hook up on the neighbour's wifi, so I cannot garantee on the news, I will be writing my posts though and put them online when I can.

Meanwhile, I wish you a happy summer and fab holidays if you are off somewhere.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A new world heritage site in Jordan?

Currently we have 3 site classified as World Heritage Sites in Jordan: the well known Petra, Quseir Amra, a desert castle from the 8th century, and Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a), an archaeological site containing remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods (end of 3rd to 9th centuries AD). According to an article in the Jordan Times of yesterday, there is a new strong candidate: Wadi Rum.

Author: David Bjorgen                                                                           

Wadi Rum is located 300km south of Amman. Here are a few facts about this beautiful site. I have taken the information from this website about Wadi Rum. The site has been declared protected area since 1998 and there is a large conservation program in place in order to limit the impact of ever increasing popularity. Wadi Rum covers a stunning 720 square kilometers with sandstone mountains, desert, sandy valleys, narrow canyons and much more. The Bedouin tradition is still alive in the region and is one of the main attractions as well. It is possible to visit Wadi Rum by Jeep, Camel / Horseback ride or simple hiking and one can spend the night at one of the Bedouin camps or for the less adventurous drive further south to Aqaba. We haven't been yet, having preferred to wait to Bibs is a bit older, so we will go next year at some point. I can't wait really, it looks stunning.

Wadi Rum can either be listed as cultural site or as mixed cultural and natural site. The vote will take place next year during the annual session in Bahrain. If the site gets listed it will mean greater preservation programs to ensure that this absolutely amazing place remains well protected. To be included on the World Heritage List, a site must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria

There is another Wadi mentionned in yesterday's paper as well it is Wadi Feynan. It is located in the Dana Reserve. The solar powered 26 room eco lodge located in the Wadi was in the top 50 of the such lodges in the National Geographic Adventure magazine last year. That little lodge looks lovely, with lots of activities to do on its doorstep.

Monday, 5 July 2010

From the Kitchen

I have the chance to be married to a very good cook, and this past 2 weeks, Bobs has been quite experimental. So here are a few things he has tried out in our kitchen in Amman. As some of you know we are desperately in the search of Chinese/asian food, I think we have in a way given up on finding something decent here, instead Bobs has decided to make it himself.

Peking Duck

Yes, I agree the hanging is a bit funny and we couldn't put it in the kitchen, it's far too hot out there, so it was in the living room under the AC. So it hang there for a good amount of hours and you have the result on the right. Not too bad for the first try. Of course we had hoisin sauce, homemade pancakes, spring onions to go with it. I promise the best in Amman - probably the only as well, unless the Chinese Ambassador is a fan as well - he must have a good cook! 

Vietnamese spring rolls and a Pho

Spring rolls are not that difficult to make, it's just the folding that takes a bit of time in the beginning. The Pho is our take on the famous soup and was not that bad actually. I know the original is made on beef but we used the duck (from the night before!) and it gave a lovely rich taste. Then we put wontons and some chicken in it as well (not standard either).


We love fish-balls - not something you can buy here either. It takes a bit of work to do them but it is well worth the effort. Then we made a crab soup on the right and a chicken broth on the left. Yummy!

Noodle soup with greens and duck

And then some not so Asian dishes...

Bobs loves BBQ, so we have bought a small one that is on the kitchen balcony. Now we have it once a week... and it is actually very nice.

Marinated lamb chops and grilled fish

Finally, one of our favorites from the old continent: Risotto.

Lobster Risotto

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Souk Jara - a lovely outdoor market in Amman

In 2004, in order to maintain and preserve the identity of the Jabal Amman area the residents created an association named JARA (Jabla Amman Residence Association). It is a very attractive area, lovely to walk around in, lots of old houses to look at.

During the summer months, on fridays, there is a small outdoor flea market called Souk Jara which has been organised. It is located off Rainbow Street, next to the Jordan River Foundation. I think I remember that I have read somewhere that the market is open from 9am to 9pm.

The entrance to Souk Jara

Views of the Market

We went just before lunch and there wasn't that many people, it was still possible to walk around with Bibs in her stroller. There are 40 so stalls selling everything from hand made jewelry, honey, frames, handcrafts. The girl with the soaps, that I met at the Farmer's market is there as well. She told me that in the evenings there are concerts as well. I guess the crowd is a bit different then. There is a playground for kids and a small alley with lots of food stalls as well.

Food stalls - very busy!

If you are in Amman on a Friday during the summer months, it is definetely worth a visit. I really liked it. I think I will be going back next week and browse for a couple of gifts to bring with me when we are going back to Europe.

A little bit before the market on the opposite side of the street, there is a small shop selling handcrafts. There are some really lovely things - a bit expensive though.

As usual I am updating my map, you can find a link to it at the bottom of the page.

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