Exploring Northern Jordan: Amman, Madaba, and Jerash

Known to the ancient Greeks as ‘Philadelphia’, Amman, Jordan’s capital, is full of ancient ruins, and authentic markets. I spent a month in Amman, studying Arabic, last January, and ventured down from Jordan University into the Wasat Balad (Amman’s old town center) every chance I got.

Below are some of my favorite spots, as well as the best sites in Amman, and day-trips within an hour by public transit. The nearby towns of Madaba and Jerash are not to be missed on a trip to Amman!

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Doves flying over Amman’s city center

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A Weekend in Wadi Rum and Petra

Deep in the deserts of southern Jordan, lie two incredible sights: the mysterious ancient city of Petra, and the boundless Wadi Rum. You could spend one day and one night in each place and see the highlights, or, you could spend days exploring each and every crevice.

Petra, known as the “Red Rock” or “Rose City” was the capital of the ancient Nabatean people. The Nabateans were a cave-dwelling tribe that controlled part of the Silk Road trade routes a long long time ago and much of their history is still debated.

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Visiting the Druze Village of Horfish

This weekend, our program visited the Druze Village of Horfish, in the rolling hills of the upper Galilee region of Israel. Here, we met Sheikh Kasem, and learned about the Druze faith. The Druze are one of many interesting minorities in Israel and they kindly welcomed us with open arms and black coffee.

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The Druze village of Horfish, situated in the hills of the Galilee

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The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a Nutshell

Today in Hebron, a city in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank territory of Palestine, I was at a small corner store buying hummus for lunch, when IDF soldiers and Palestinians began to clash on Shariya Al-Shuhada. But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story. (You may want to pull up a map of Israel and it’s territories in another tab to reference.)

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Aswan, the Ancient Gateway into Africa

Aswan, the largest city in Upper Egypt, is a Nile-front paradise, where felucca sailboats gracefully navigate the river and its many islands. Aswan was regarded in the ancient times as the gateway into African trade routes, and today maintains its unique mix of Arab and Nubian culture. Across the water, West Aswan and Elephantine island are brimming with picturesque traditional Nubian homes, beautiful gardens, and ancient ruins from the Pharaonic, Hellenistic, Coptic, and Islamic eras.

There’s no shortage of things to do in Aswan; I spent a week exploring its many sites, and still didn’t see everything!

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A Week in South Sinai, Egypt

When most people think of Egypt, they think of the Pyramids, mummies, and ancient gods. Across the Suez Canal from ‘mainland’ Egypt lies an entire region of the country that is often forgotten, with a very different culture.

The Sinai peninsula, which connects Egypt to Israel-Palestine, is rich in history, as well as natural wonders. South Sinai is an excellent place for hiking and SCUBA/snorkeling, with several national parks from the ‘Colored Canyon’ of Nuweiba to the coral reefs of Ras Mohammad.

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6 Sights in Sarajevo

Bosnia’s capital city, Sarajevo, is truly where East meets West. Here, humble wooden Ottoman shops juxtapose the luxurious Austro-Hungarian residences in the old town. Further down into the new city, are Sarajevo’s gritty communist blocs, alive with bars, the art scene, and the U.N.’s permanent mission to Bosnia.

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