The winters aren’t freezing in India anymore and the Bengali in me wants to get out and do something magical. Beaches are something that Bengalis and Indians enjoy a lot. But the way we enjoy it is hilarious. Bengali men with all their put bellies and jangias(underwear) in a glorious display jump and frolic around on the beaches. But, with the feminist anti body shaming movement gathering force, the same should be applicable for us. We, as Bengali men should be allowed to display our bellies, chest hair and unfit physique with pride. But with most of the Indian beaches visited, I chose the Jordan side of the Dead Sea this time around.
Why Dead Sea?
Dead Sea is dead literally. This landlocked sea receives water from a number of rivers. With the water having no outflow, it evaporates leaving behind salt. The saline concentration in the Dead Sea is about ten times that of normal seawater. This makes it impossible for any living organisms to grow. The landlocked Jordan Rift Valley is a beauty to behold with salt deposits and lime stone making a natural architecture. This transports you to another world altogether. But even with so much of natural beauty, the main reason we chose Dead Sea is because of it’s mineral deposits. The mud on the shores of the sea and the high mineral content are extremely good for your skin and health.
How to get there?
Being a middle class Bengali, we booked a half day trip from the capital city of Amman. An hour’s drive away, the day trip encompasses a Lunch and services at Movenpick Resort & Spa. After lunch, you can spend time doing anything you feel like doing followed by a trip back to Amman in the evening. My trip cost about JD 150(INR 15,000). I traveled to Amman by Air Arabia.
What I did at the Dead Sea?
After tucking in a lunch of Jordanian food, I jumped onto the beach with a load of the clay mud. Not only was I going to rub it all over my face, but also over my belly, arms and legs. It’s a bit difficult scrubbing through the hair but in the end I looked like a pig who had enjoyed his time in the mud. I jumped into the clear water of the Dead Sea. Although my swimming skills are are quite intact but you can easily float around in the Dead Sea. Do not try to do the traditional swimming techniques as the water here is saline beyond imagination. It will only need a bit of it going into your mouth to start retching.
We truly enjoyed bobbing like a cork on the Dead Sea observing the natural beauty around me. There is an amalgamation of white and brown against the blue horizon which I will never forget. Being a Bengali, a post prandial somnolence is my birthright. The same happened while being immersed in the water as I almost dozed off for 5-10 minutes before Snigdha shook me awake.
We headed back to Amman in the evening after having a time of our lives. The Dead Sea is a perfect place to rejuvenate and visit a water body in a totally new way. Do tell us your favourite place in Jordan.
All pictures are courtesy of Visit Jordan.
Dubai is one of the hottest tourist destinations nowadays. With an incessant amount of money being poured into the city, Dubai rates as probably the topmost destination among today’s desi traveller. We bring you the bucket list of all the places to visit in Dubai.
What to DO/SEE?
- Dessert Safari– Its a different experience all together from the car drive on the sand-dunes to live belly dance to dessert biking to their hookahs. This activity is a must for all first-time visitors.
- Sky diving– Skydive Dubai, it is at one of the world’s premier skydiving location, neighboring the luxurious manmade island The Palm Jumeirah and the Dubai Marina. With these beautiful and breathtaking views, Skydive Dubai should definitely be in your to-do list!
- Water show near Burj Khalifa– The Dubai Fountain features water that jets as high as 450 ft (140 metres), which is equivalent to a 45-storey building. It is definitely worth a watch.
- Ferrari World– If you have one full day, you should definitely go here. Situated in Abu Dhabi, it is a 2 hour drive from Dubai. You can easily find a bus service from Dubai. This is largest indoor amusement park of the world and is the home to the World’s fastest roller coaster. So if you have time, definitely visit it.
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque– Situated in Abu Dhabi, this mosque is UAE largest mosque. I went here after completely drained from Ferrari world and this place simply relaxed me. It is such a beautiful visual delight, you can just sit and stare at it the whole night. The work on the walls and the beautiful chandeliers, the gorgeous carpets to the breathtaking ceilings, all are complete visual treat to the eyes. It feels as if you have entered in the palace of “Jasmine” from Aladdin series. This should be definitely on your to-go-to places.
What to EAT?!
- Cheesecake Factory– Walk through the front doors of The Cheesecake Factory and you will know you are in for something special. The size of the cakes, the serving size of each dishes and their smoothness. Personally I enjoyed smoothies more than their cake while my friends were enjoying the cakes more.
- Aroos Damacus– One of the best places in Dubai to have authentic Arabic food. Situated in the Old Dubai, its all localities favourite for their Arabic food craving.
- Le Pain Quotidien– After a long flight to Dubai, this place was a welcome delight. What really works for me is that everything is organic, you can actually taste the freshness and crispness of the ingredients in the food. Their jams (inhouse produced) were super yum. The cappuccinos were made the way I like. Absolutely in love with their salad dressings!
Other places which I didn’t get time to try but were recommended by my fellow foodies friends were- Five guys and shake shack for burgers, Joe’s crab in dubai mall, Ravi in satwa for Non veg, Karam Express for pocket friendly and delicious Lebanese, Salt and Mooyah for burgers, Zaatar W Zeit, Mythos for great Greek food, Bu Qtair for seafood in Jumeirah, Tom & Serg, Aprons and Hammers for seafood and Paul for great deli fare and Shakespeare for desserts, coffee and sheesha. The list of suggestions is quiet long, so choose wisely! 🙂
Where to CHILL?
- Barasti Bar– If lazy beach days are your thing, there’s no better place to while away the hours than the award winning Barasti Beach. Barasti offers the perfect mix of great music, delicious food and divine cocktails against the stunning backdrop of Dubai Marina.
- Siddharta Lounge By Buddha-Bar-Luxurious deck with welcoming hosts, good view of marina and some amazing sheeshas. It is located on the 20th floor and the minute you walk in, you are in for a visual treat. Do not come here for food or expect amazing food service, please have your dinners and pre-drink before coming cause the service is slow and the place is a little on a pricier side. Simply come here for the ambiance and for the visual treat.
- Pulse, Move & Pick Hotel- If Bollywood music is your thing, then you’ll find a little India in the heart of Dubai. Stag entry is 100 AED which is not redeemable on drinks or food inside, so make sure you go in a couple.
Other places which were on my to-chill list were Pacha, Cavalli Club, Armani Prive and Pier 7.
Where to SHOP?
If you have gone to Dubai and not shopped, then it’s not a proper holiday. The Dubai Shopping Festival 2017 dates has been declared and it is an opportunity you should not miss. It is from 26th December 2016 to 28th January 2017. We tell you the places where you should shop.
- Global Village– is the leading family cultural, shopping and entertainment destination in the region, with a unique shopping experience at 32 pavilions representing more than 75 countries with different cultures. So be prepared to “oooh” and “aah” cause you’ll find some really great things to buy.
- Outlet Mall– The mall is dedicated to being a true and ultimate value retail destination and you can snap up discounts of between 30%-90% on the majority of products available in the 240 stores. They house brands like Burberry, Diesel, Banana Republic etc.
- Meena Bazaar– In dilliwala’s language “Dubai ka Chandani Chowk”. You can shop here for Pakistani Suits, Gold and Itar. Bargaining is the trick here to get good stuff at cheap prices.
- NYX and Victoria Secret Makeup– these makeup brand are dirt cheap in Dubai. So make sure, you go and stock up these brands.
- Baklava and Dates– Specialty of Dubai. Junk the duty free chocolates and instead invest on these, they are simply delicious. If you are worrying about the weight, you can easily find a lot of Baklawa and Dates stores at the airport and shop here after checking in.
These are my top picks for Dubai, feel free to add in the list or share your experience with me in the comment section. 🙂
Check out this review of Traders Hotel.
The food from the Arabian region has become the third largest foreign cuisine in Delhi with Lebanese opening a plethora of openings in the food scene of NCR region. With the Jordanian embassy cementing bilateral ties between the two countries, tourism has taken a jump to this middle Eastern country. Well there will be a plethora of posts on where to visit in this beautiful country, but we would like to guide you on what to eat in Jordan. Part of the Levantine cuisine, the Jordanian cuisine is split into two main branches: the traditional and the Bedouin. Although you might find a lot of similarities in the traditional Jordanian food with the rest of the region, it’s the Bedouin food that stands apart with the use of underground oven. A recently held Jordanian food festival courtesy of the Jordanian tourism ministry and Air Arabia introduced Delhiites to this rare cuisine.
Check out this guide of backpacking through another country in the Middle East, Iran by co-blogger Will Hatton of Broke Backpacker.
The meal usually starts off with a Mezze. Consisting of small plates, these are usually dishes which can be polished off with breads along with a humongous variety of dips. Falafel, the fried chickpea balls is one of the standards in the area but they are smaller in size than the Lebanese variant. The dips may include the Hummus which is a chickpea dip and pickled vegetables which provide a hard hitting acidic flavour to any dish. Jordanians also love dipping their flatbread in some Olive Oil along with some Za’atar spice which is a mixture of thyme and sesame seeds and consuming it. Ful Medames is also another delicacy that holds forte during Jordanian breakfasts. Crushed fava beans with a spicy topping of olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and chili pepper. The Dolma (grape vine leaves filled with spiced vegetables, minced meat and rice) along with the Kibbeh which has herbed, minced meat in a crust of crushed wheat then fried are major attractions.
The nationa dish of Jordan, Mansaf is Lamb cooked in dried fermented yoghurt called Jameed and served along with rice. Being a country of the Middle-East, the presence of Kebabs becomes an essential item with succulent lamb kebabs. The kebabs here tend to be a bit simpler with lesser amount of spices but the explosiveness pretty much remains the same. Kofta Bandoora has lamb kebabs cooked in a tomato gravy while the Galayet Bandoora comprises of tomatoes sautéed to release their juices and are stewed with the Mediterranean combo of olive oil and garlic. The pine nuts add a beautiful crunch to the dish. The Lamb Pilaf is also a staple with rice. The dish is unlike the biryani you would have had with the focus shifting onto the meat rather than the rice. As I had mentioned about the Bedouin cuisine, Zarb is a form of barbecue where meat and vegetables are cooked in a large underground pit. The aromas that escape on opening the pit is orgasmic
Although the Middle East may be embroiled with violence, but the people there are pretty fun loving and love their desserts. Most of them are usually wheat or other grain based pastries deeply soaked in sugar syrup along with dry fruits and honey. Baklava holds a strong presence here too. The Khunafa is a semolina cake drenched in sugar syrup along with rosewater or Orange Blossom. Filo pastries filled with clotted cream are also a rage in this part of the world. No Jordanian meal is complete without the presence of their beverages. Although the traditionalists do favour a stronger blend, the Bedouin love theirs with laced with cardamom. The Jordanians also love their mint tea which acts as a digestive and a perfect end to their heavy meaty meals. Do try out the above next time you are in Jordan and let us know what you liked the most.
Well that’s a lot of non vegetarian food on offer. But do check out this amazing post Vegetarian Food Options in Jordan by co-blogger Siddhartha Joshi who writes at Sid The Wanderer
Image Credits: Visit Jordan
Have you checked out this blogpost of Amman, Jordan?