We, by that I mean a few mums from our group, have decided to meet up once a week for a breakfast. A way to have a good time together and also an opportunity for the kiddies to get used to the idea of spending time at a table and maybe learn how to behave as well. Well, that's my theory, because Bibs is just crawling around the table, emptying my handbag and tries to open the cupboards in the restaurant. The other kiddies are sitting nicely and enjoying their breakfast!
The Four Seasons Hotel is very beautiful. It is located at the 5th circle, and if you are looking for the entrance it is behind the hotel! From 5th circle take towards the 6th at the first street take right and right again. It's at the end of the road. It's a bit hidden and no signs either. The breakfast area is on the lower lobby level. The room is not that attractive: it looks very much like a hotel restaurant, if that makes sense. Not much charm. Just a big room, with lots of tables. Just as we left I noticed an outside area, which was probably closed though, it was 30 degrees outside today so lovely weather, a bit of a shame really.
The buffet however was very nice: there is the usual pancake/waffle/egg station, then fruits, cereals, meat cuts and cheese, bread selection etc.There is also an Arabic breakfast section, with falafel, fried halloumi and other goodies. The orange juice, they say it's fresh, but am not that sure, seemed a bit concentrated to me, maybe I am mistaken.
The Buffet Area
The Arabic Breakfast section
Price-wise, we paid 16JD + taxes (so more or less 21JD), which I find a bit stiff really - I don't think it was that good. The service was nice, every baby had a high chair, however I asked for the front table that goes with the high chair it never came. We did get some cookies though. That's the thing when you are with babies... you do get some extra attention.
The gallery's two buildings are surrounding a small sculpture park and Canvas, a restaurant/coffee shop. The coffee shop is nice, will have to go back for lunch. We just had a cup of coffee and my friend's daughter a big chocolate sunday. Well to be exact we ordered a ice coffee, but first then came with a ice tea which we sent back and then they came a ice coffee without coffee. There was ice cream, chocolate, milk and cream. We kept it that way! But it is a nice place to stop after the museum visit.
There are some paintings exposed inside and a very nice terrace outside overlooking the small park.
We then for a small walk in the park. It is water conservation project developed with governmental and local support as well as USAID. It is a sculpture park, there is a children's playground and is a very pleasant place to walk with a stroller, kids can play, young people meet on dates.
The gallery is located in 2 different buildings, on each side of a small park and houses a permanent collection of contemporary art from Jordan, the Arab world and other developing countries, mainly Africa and Asia.
Building number 1 as it is called, the one with the terrace on the top on the picture, is definitely the most interesting out of the 2. It is much bigger and the collection, I found, easier to understand and more approachable. I thought this one was impressive: it is views of street walls in Palestine.
On the 2nd floor there is a small library, specialised in arts of course. They have a small selection is Arabic, English and French.
There is also a small cafe, unfortunately closed when we were there. And then a small terrace with an amazing view over Amman and the Blue Mosque.
I found this picture very interesting. You can see the King Abdullah Mosque, aka the Blue Mosque, recognisable with its blue dome. It was built as memorial to the late King Hussein's grandfather. It is possible to visit it, so I really want to go. Just in front there is a church, other mosques around and then of course the building sites, squattered across Amman.
In the second building there is a small souk Zara outlet. It is handcrafts type of shop which can also be found mainly in hotels in Amman (Grand Hyatt, Intercontinental) but also in other hotels across the kingdom (Dead Sea, Petra, Aqaba). They offer jewelry, ceramics, postcards, woodwork, mosaics... Unfortunately it was closed in the middle of the afternoon... The entrance is 5JD per person (we didn't pay for my friend's daughter who is 10).
We had a nice afternoon. It is a small but interesting museum. There is access to strollers, wheelchairs... A good point as it is rare in this country.
There is also a nice garden and a cafe, will talk about that in a separate post. I took also plenty of pictures of the area, because the architecture is very different to the part of Amman where we live. All to come...
So yesterday we had the first autumn rain. Let's be honest, it didn't clean the air as it can do in Europe. When you looked at the cars afterwards they were more dirty with sand that when the rain started! But less than they were this morning after last night sandstorm. It started when it was dark and I missed the beginning. So at a moment a walked into my kitchen, and hmm, it wasn't as clean as the last time I had been there. There was just dust everywhere. The air was full of sand and it took quite some time for it to settle, even after the storm was over.
Sandstorm to hit Amman
This picture was taken from my balcony, just before the storm hit Amman. Only I didn't realise that there was a storm on the way! I will know for next time. I don't think it happens so often though. The sun was going down and the light was amazing. You can barely see the sun on the picture, just above the trees on the left. Today the weather forecast says "Widespread Dust"! And though the blue sky is back over Amman, you can see the dust in the horizon.
This morning we woke up to big and very grey clouds in Amman and we got the first rain since I guess mid-may. The funny thing is that I read in the newspaper last week that as of the 21st September it starts to rain again in our little Kingdom - well for once the meteorologist were right! Would be good if they could master that... Rain, a little bit of rain and still 28 degrees. So it's nice, it cools the air but you can still sit outside and enjoy it.
With my friend N and her little boy we had decided to do a little walk this morning and then have a nice well deserved cup of coffee - and for that we went for Second Cup in Abdoun. It's quite handy cause it is close to the park where we go with our little ones, but the downside is that we need to cross a busy road; as usual in Amman, not very walk-friendly. But we didn't let us stop by that and waited patiently for all cars to have passed and crossed the road. For the little story on the way back, 2 cars just stopped the traffic so that we could cross the road, much appreciated.
So, to Second Cup. It's a nice little coffee shop - with a non-smoking section, completely separated from the smoking one, on the ground floor. I like the coffee, and their cakes look yummy too. Didn't have any though - next time. They do all kind of cold and hot drinks. I had a hazelnut mokka late, yum yum.
Specially these ones: I love Oreo - I just discovered them a couple of years ago. I know, 30-something years without Oreo, don't know how I made it! Had my revenge during my pregnancy though.
Their muffins don't look bad either!
And then if you are looking for a place to buy cacti, well there is one next door. They have some really pretty ones.
No need to be like us and walk and cross roads, there is a parking lot next door, so the access is easy. As usual, I have located it on my map.
Yesterday, I was at the petrol station and while I was sitting there waiting for my tank to be filled up, I am looking at the cars around me. Arrives a taxi, which stops next to me. And what is the guy doing? Having a fag. Right there, in the middle of a petrol station while he gets his gas in the car. The guy who serves the petrol apparently doesn't mind putting his life in danger, the taxi driver either. I try to get his attention and when it finally happens, I say something like: cigarette, gas, boom. He just looks at the his fag and half-smile, half-laugh to me. What's so bloody funny? I don't really fancy dying while I am tanking up.
That's the type of thing that really annoys me. Why is it that certain people can't use their brain? Cause even if the brain is really small, well it still understands the concept of fire + petrol = not good. The guy just doesn't care. Neither does the guy filling up the petrol (that's a really nice thing here, that you don't have to get out of the car to do it yourself...). He could just tell him to put it out or no fuel, easy. But no, helas! So I know I won't go to that petrol station any more. Of course it happens in many other stations in Amman, but what I don't know, I can't do anything about!
So everything is back to normal after Eid and it's quietness. By that I mean the traffic, the shops are open, people are smoking in the malls again (I think that Ramadan has made them forget about the smoking ban) and of course the restaurants and food courts are all business again.
Juicebangbang, located in Sweifieh Mall, 3rd Floor
And there has been this place I have been wanting to go to for a long time, well before Ramadan - and now I have finally made it. juicebangbang! It's a bubble tea house. Yes, you can get bubble tea in Amman. Apparently it is originally from Taiwan, but I discovered it in Singapore, where it is widely available as well. The original is cold tea with milk and tapioca pearls. The pearls are obviously the bubble part. Yum! It's the kind of stuff either you find it of no interest at all or you get instantly addicted to it. You guessed, I am part of the 2nd group. The fun thing is I have never been able to drink milk in my tea - never. But this is just soo yummy!
So they are offering the standard bubble tea and then you can also create your own drink: flavoured with crushed ice and bubbles, you can add milk or you can add yogurt. I think the concept is great and very refreshing compared to other stuff that you can find in Amman. Price: between JD2 and JD3.50.
I have been twice since the beginning of the week. The first time, I got vanilla tea and yesterday I tried it with Jasmine tea. The second one is a great lighter option with no milk and just as good with those bubbles
The black in the bottom are the tapioca pearls
So you got it, a great drink! but more to it: the place is really clean, which is a big thumbs up for me and then the guy who is there (i guess the owner? - but am not sure) is really a nice guy. He recognised me instantly second time I came and thanked me for my tweet on twitter, not so common in Amman, that somebody actually says thanks you for something. So: if you know bubble tea, am sure you are a fan and are now happy to know that you can get it in Amman (if you didn't already know!) - if you don't know Bubble tea, really you should go and try it out. Enjoy!
This week-end Muslims around the world will visit their families to share food and gifts - show their solidarity, respect to their loved ones. It reminds of when I was kid: when my grand parents were still alive we would drive to Denmark every Christmas to celebrate with our family. We were living 2000km away and it was just the way it was. I loved it: packing the car, taking my pillow and getting settled in the back of the car. Before we were out of the village we usually had to drive back to the house to check if the iron was unplugged or because we had forgotten this or that. Then the whole drive through France, Germany, take the boat and arrive in a very cold Denmark, but full of Christmas spirit! We used to live with my grand parents in their apartment. Christmas Eve Day, my grand dad wanted me to come with him and I had to visit all the other "old" people in the building. It was very important for him that I went with him and even though it was boring and that I couldn't really see the point I still went, for him. Years later, after my grand-dad had passed away of course I could see the point - and as I was usually away from the family or my parents friends, for years I wrote Christmas cards and send my wishes: away for me to show my love and respect.
You might wonder why I talk about this: well first of all I believe that all "our religions" are not that different from each other - we might honour our God in different ways but when it comes to festive seasons all the traditions are the same and made for the same reasons: honour God and keep families close together. Then there is an article in the paper today about this Eid tradition of paying visits and the fact that the younger generation are less interested in the traditions, when they are "forced" visits. I think it's a shame that younger generations tend to forget traditions or can't be bothered with them. I don't know if it's education or just our society that changes so much. Maybe it's because we knew that we didn't have a choice and nowadays everything is just open for discussion. Whatever it is I hope that I will be able to transmit to Bibs the importance of traditions.
Well, well. Yesterday we went to do some shopping an apart from food outlets and supermarkets everything was closed to celebrate Eid. The streets were quiet. We saw people nicely dressed going to visit their families and big reunions on the terraces.
So last night we finally made it for Iftar - quite good considering it was the last night! Ramadan ends tonight. We had a nice evening - with good food and loud music. It started at 7pm, and we were there at 7.05 and most tables were already in full swing eating enormous plates from the buffet.
The dinner started with a lentil soup - that was already on the table. And then food from the buffet. I thought the buffet was really nice... As you can see not many people there considering that there were seats for 350 people and all tables were full! They were all busy eating.
I thought the buffet had a very nice layout. Pricewise it was 26JD plus tax and service charge.
There was also a music band, playing traditional music and loud, but that is part of the ambiance. Unfortunately the picture I took was not that good, so we will have to pass on that!
Well, well everything comes to an end and we are nearly there: the end of Ramadan. So what have I discovered? Well not much. I think what surprises me the most is that I haven't really felt it was Ramadan. Of course there are small things here and there - but in my daily life, there hasn't been anything that really stuck out. I don't know why I expected it to be so different... that's the way it is when you discover a new culture, isn't it? Surprises.
For one thing, I am happy that it is coming to an end: the traffic has become horrendous. I have the impression that people are even more aggressive than usual. People are just doing dummer and dummer things.
Check that out... one way street? no! they just can't be bothered waiting, even though the traffic is not moving on the other road either. I usually see smaller versions of this, but there were 4 lanes created today! - good that nobody wanted to go in the other direction.
One of the things that I have noticed is the number of poor people whom have been in West Amman during Ramadan. The rest of the year there aren't really any poor on the streets, begging for food or money - but during the Holly month it has been much more noticeable. I guess they are coming here because of the more charitable spirit there is during this period.
Something I knew but that I just didn't think to do anything about: stock up on some wine! I will remember next year. I have lived with gin and tonic for the past month. Not the worse that could happen, but let's be honest it has its limitations and doesn't go that well with food. And I who could finally enjoy a small glass of wine since I have stopped breastfeeding. Yep all liquor stores are completely shut - the one in Cozmo is even hidden behind shelves.
Usually kids have been playing during the night outside, but this morning I saw them running around and playing football at 5:45 when Bibs got me out of bed.
To some more serious stuff. All days during Ramadan are Holy and out of all days during this month (and the rest of the year) yesterday was the holiest of all. It was Laylat Al Qadr (the Night of Power): the revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed - it is celebrated on the eve of the 27th day of Ramadan. Well, it could be any odd night in the last ten days of Ramadan - but the 27th id even more likely than the other dates - I think have understood that correctly. So there are even more prayers on this night and the prayers are for the forgiveness of sins.
And then comes Eid Al Fatr, the Festival of Fast-breaking: it is probably Thursday - it depends again of the sighting of the crescent moon, like the beginning of Ramadan. So what happens? Well, there are 3 days of celebration and these are public holidays. Apart from that I don't really know, I have to discover... alone because ohh Bobs is working, as usual. You gotta love this Hotel business.
Tomorrow we are going for Iftar - finally, Bobs had promised to take me (he couldn't really wait any longer!!), so I'll bring back some pictures and a story about that...