Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!


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Re: Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot (by mark at 5/09 2:16 PM)
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14 June 2013
Photo Friday: the Petra experience

so many camels, so little time
so many camels, so little time

As I've hinted at in past posts, there's a very good reason Petra is a World Heritage Site. UNESCO goes into great detail on Petra's "Outstanding Universal Value." Personally, I was just glad it was as amazing in person as the photos and movie footage it's featured in.

The pleasant walk into The Rose-Red City first provides a view of ancient silica quarries, partially-carved tombs (which we jokingly referring to as "art school"), and Djinn blocks. The latter, freestanding cube-shaped monuments to spirits from Arab folklore, give the site a Flintstonian feel.

the walk in
the walk in

the Marriott crew poses at "art school"
the Marriott crew poses at "art school"

Rawan does her best Wilma Flintstone impression
Rawan does her best Wilma Flintstone impression


The next section is The Siq, a narrow passage through the mountains leading to the carved city of Petra. Exploring the colors and textures of the sandstone canyon was one of my favorite parts of the visit. You can see my full homage to this natural wonder in my last post "Pet Rock."

entering The Siq
entering The Siq

rockin' out
rockin' out


One hazard was the horse-drawn buggies designed for those unwilling or unable to make the walk. They'd come zooming by with little warning, although after a while we began listening for thundering hooves echoing off the canyon walls.

donĀ“t get trampled by lazy tourists in buggies
don´t get trampled by lazy tourists in buggies


At the end of The Siq, the carved facade of The Treasure emerges. This is the iconic view you see most often, but is no less spectacular to behold.

iconic Petra
iconic Petra


Cue the Indiana Jones theme song!

The Treasury
The Treasury

oktapodi often gets mistaken for Indiana Jones
oktapodi often gets mistaken for Indiana Jones


Unfortunately you can't go inside The Treasury, known in Arabic as Al-Khazna, but you can wander around and admire the carved facade. Crafted by the Nabatean civilization in 60BC, the structure is actually a gigantic tomb, covered in Greek-influenced columns and carvings.

Corinthian columns
Corinthian columns

http://www.pulpology.com/?esid=pics&z=4023&KWID=154
Hellenic warriors

loving how the light moves across Al-Khazna
loving how the light moves across Al-Khazna


The scene in the Treasury plaza is a chaotic pastiche of camera-wielding tourists, camel-wielding touts, and wheelbarrow-wielding maintenance men.

Captain Jack Sparrow working the Petra crowd
Captain Jack Sparrow working the Petra crowd

in front of The Treasury
in front of The Treasury

Lindsay, Rawan, oktapodi, Mark, Aftab
Lindsay, Rawan, oktapodi, Mark, Aftab

Treasury Plaza
Treasury Plaza

cameltoe
cameltoe

obligatory cheesy tourist shot with fake guards
obligatory cheesy tourist shot with fake guards


We continued down the Street of Facades towards the Theater, which was also under renovation. Plenty of cool stuff to see along the way, though.

lightshow
lightshow

Rawan photographs Lindsay
Rawan photographs Lindsay

mellow touts
mellow touts

festively-attired donkeys
festively-attired donkeys

Street of Facades
Street of Facades


The fact that the Theater was off-limits didn't stop Aftab, who hopped the fence to take a better picture. I'm happy to note he didn't end up on an episode of "Locked Up Abroad."

renovations at The Theater
renovations at The Theater

Aftab behind bars
Aftab behind bars


There was no shortage of touts trying to sell us camel rides or trinkets, but they weren't nearly as aggressive as I'd expected. Some of them, like this young girl who approached us with an armful of necklaces, were surprisingly friendly.

vendors
vendors

touts awaiting their next customers
touts awaiting their next customers

hey, shouldn't you be in school?
hey, shouldn't you be in school?


We weren't able to stick around for the hike up to the Monastery, as a member of our troupe had to get back to Amman for a flight. (A handy excuse just as the heat was starting to crank up.) But the stroll back through the Siq rewarded us with a delicious color show.

more spectacular lighting changes on the walk back
more spectacular lighting changes on the walk back

breathtaking
breathtaking

a rose-red city half as old as time
"a rose-red city half as old as time"


Then, sadly, back to reality.

annnnnnd back to the cheese!
annnnnnd back to the cheese!

time for souvenirs
time for souvenirs


And thus concludes the lengthy curation of my many-many Petra pics. Check out the links below for other posts and allllll the photos uploaded from our Jordan travels. Next up, our side trip to Beirut!

For more fabulous travel snaps check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Photo Friday: Pet rock
* Photo Friday: unexpected Petra
* Photo Friday: waking up in Petra
* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive
* In my Dead Sea bowling shoes
* Photo Friday: Middle East teaser
* browse all Jordan posts

* browse all Jordan pics
* browse all Petra pics

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


07 June 2013
Photo Friday: Pet rock

Petra is most famous for its Nabatean-carved structures like the Treasury and the Monastery ...and we'll get to those in a future post. But even before the Treasury emerges from beyond the canyon walls of the Siq, visitors are treated to a spectacular display of sandstone colors and textures.


It's a photographer's wet dream.


I started to see faces everywhere in the charismatic rock formations.

I'm gonna eatcha!


The gorgeous hues seem to shift with each passing minute. We lucked out with a sunny morning, and left the site just as the afternoon heat began to seriously bake everything.


More to Petra pics to come! I'm just getting warmed up. Here's the rest of what I've uploaded so far. Meanwhile, for more fabulous travel snaps check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

 

RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: unexpected Petra

* Photo Friday: waking up in Petra
* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive

* In my Dead Sea bowling shoes
* Photo Friday: Middle East teaser
* browse all Jordan posts

* browse all Jordan pics (still a work in progress)
* browse all Photo Friday posts

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


24 May 2013
Photo Friday: unexpected Petra

hey, even touts need to check Facebook from time to time
hey, even touts need to check Facebook from time to time

light and dark and dark and light
light and dark and dark and light


Yes, I'm teasing out the Petra pictures, little by little... You know you love it. Keep begging for more! Meanwhile, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: waking up in Petra
* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive

* In my Dead Sea bowling shoes
* Photo Friday: Middle East teaser
* browse all Jordan posts
* browse all Photo Friday posts

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


17 May 2013
Photo Friday: waking up in Petra

room with a view

Petra is one of those mystical-magical places that, even with our modern jaded overexposure, never fails to amaze. A small group of us had the opportunity to take a quick trip here after our meetings, and I came away with a small mountain of photos. (Imagine your complete and total lack of surprise.)

Today's first batch is just from the first few moments of waking up at the Petra Marriott, which is about 10 minutes away from the archeological site. Even the views from our room were stunning. We'd arrived late the previous night and hadn't had a chance to appreciate the delicious vistas of the Petra Valley.


Normally waking up before sunrise is not my jam. I got over that. The baklava tray helped.
a civilized way to wake up


The misty-mountain-hop quality of the light...



Gradually began to warm up...



It always amazes me to see plants growing under such austere conditions.


Bit of a lonely outpost, but the view beats cubeville anyday!


Just a few minutes' difference made dramatic changes in the scenery...



Oktapodi is awake and ready to see Petra!


Er mah gerrrrrrd, soooooo many more pics of Petra to come. Meanwhile, for more fabulous travel snaps, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


Also, I'm still working on restoring the site after our recent crashitude, so not all pics have been uploaded and a few bits & pieces need to be tidied up. Do peruse the other Jordan blog posts, though! And thanks for your patience.

 

 

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
09 May 2013
Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot

[Hey, waitaminute, it's not Wednesday! Le sigh. Some of you may have noticed that the site's been down for over a week. Massive server issues last week. Special shoutout to my crack tech team -- ehm, that would be Mark -- for pulling some incredibly long hours and working tirelessly to get everything restored. I'd say we're about 95% back on track but there's still a few bumps to work out. Thanks for your patience! And now, only a week plus one day later than I'd intended to post, it, onward to the latest Wanderfood Wednesday...]

Before coming to Jordan, I was aware of -- and, I thought, prepared for -- legendary Arabic hospitality. Boy was I wrong! The food was amazing, without exception. And even an allegedly small snack got turned into a copious multi-course feast. These people don't mess around. And they don't take no for an answer.

Y'all know I suffer for my art, but the dinner that capped off our team outing in Amman tested even my limits. It was redonkulous.


I blame these two:

Adnan, our gracious host
Adnan, our gracious host

Rawan, our handler
the lovely and talented Rawan, our handler


After a brief tour of Amman, the team got dropped off at the Amman Marriott. Apparently the restaurant we were headed to didn't serve alcohol, so we were instructed to get liquored up at the piano bar. Amidst the snark teambuilding banter, the strains of various showtunes floated up from the lounge. Also a little Metallica. Lemme tell ya, you just haven't lived until you've heard "Nothing Else Matters" as interpreted by a Jordanian piano player in a long red dress.

rawking out at the Amman Marriott piano lounge
cuz why not play Metallica in a floor-length red dress?
f'shizzle


Onward to the restaurant! Rajeen is a phenomenal Armenian restaurant located in the heart of Amman's entertainment district. Siderant: Why are there no Armenian restaurants in DC?? In a town that has more Ethiopian joints than Addis, and even covers cuisines like Burmese and Afghan, why no Armenian? That's just criminal.

Rajeen Armenian restaurant
Armenian decor


As with most meals in Jordan, the feast started with a number of small plates, dips, and awesome bread.

appetizer thing
bread, om nom nom
more appetizer things


We didn't order off the menu, so I must confess that I have no idea what most of this stuff was. It was just om-nom-nommy. And the dishes kept on coming!

the pusher
meeeeeeeeat


With a brief stop for this digestive...

digestive


Annnnnnd then a whole batch of desserts. Ooof.

dessert thing
more dessert things
this dessert thing was a little sketchy


Bonus points to any foodies out there who can correctly identify any of these dishes. All I know is that we ate till we nearly exploded. It was deliciously grueling.

Overheard on the ride back from our team dinner in Amman:
"There's no democracy when it comes to food in Jordan!"

Epicurean despot. It's not only a great name for a band (or maybe a Food Network show) it's also how they do things in Jordan.


For more mouthwatering travel food photos, check out Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday.

 

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment
23 April 2013
Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive

roadside views from the Dead Sea to Amman
roadside views from the Dead Sea to Amman

After a long day of meetings, we were treated to a team outing in downtown Amman. First stop: souvenirs! Because nobody can come back from a biz trip without some junk for the family and the office, right?

someday we hope to look as fabulous as this mud model
someday we hope to look as fabulous as this mud model


We stopped at a souvenir stand on the side of the road between the Dead Sea and Amman. While our lovely hostess helped each teammate haggle their way through bargain purchases, we had a chance to check out the surroundings. On one side, a ramshackle tent village. On the other, gorgeous mountains. From time to time a small child would emerge, moving a scraggly herd of goats down the highway.

a different side of Jordan
a different side of Jordan

goatherder-in-training
goatherder-in-training

this little girl seemed puzzled that I was taking her picture
this little girl seemed puzzled that I was taking her picture...

...but her little brother totally got into it
...but her little brother totally got into it


And onward to Amman! Since we'd arrived at the Dead Sea in the dead of night, this was our first chance to appreciate the Jordanian landscape. The elevation differential was ear-popping.

beautiful countryside en route to Amman
beautiful countryside en route to Amman

Jordan was much hillier than I expected
Jordan was much hillier than I expected

room with a view
room with a view


Once in Amman, we drove past some interesting neighborhoods and notable structures, without much chance to explore beyond what we could see from the windows of the van. That's the downside to being part of a big group, and part of the reason we prefer independent travel. Still, we probably wouldn't found ourselves in Amman otherwise, and it was a nice overview of a surprisingly beautiful city.

downtown Amman

cool bridge

King Abdullah Mosque


We did stop and get out of the van to check out the Citadel and Roman ruins. The site was closed, but we got a chance to see it from the outside, and got some lovely hilltop views of Amman while the evening call to prayer rang out over the city.

Amman Citadel and ruins
Amman Citadel and ruins

eery green lighting
eery green lighting

Amman at dusk
Amman at dusk

yay team
yay team


We also had a quick pitstop at the Roman Amphitheater, which looks absolutely gorgeous at night and would be a kickass place to see a concert.

Mark thinks AquaSpank should play here
Mark thinks AquaSpank should play here


Roman Amphitheatre

and surrounding hills

manymanymany photos

Overall, I really liked Amman's quirky narrow streets and hilly landscape. The teambuilding continued at an amazing Armenian restaurant, but that's the subject of an upcoming WanderFood Wednesday post so stay tuned!

three cheers for biz trips to unexpected places
three cheers for biz trips to unexpected places

Arabic graffiti <3
Arabic graffiti <3


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all Amman pics
* browse all Jordan pics uploaded so far
* check out past WanderFood Wednesday posts (I haven't done one of these in a while and it's long overdue!) 

 

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
18 April 2013
In my Dead Sea bowling shoes

Every time I mentioned to someone that we were headed to Jordan, they insisted on two activities: 1) float in the Dead Sea, and 2) visit Petra. We did make it to Petra, which is the subject of an upcoming post. Today, I bring you our adventures in floatitude. And mud.

best cure for jetlag is Turkish coffee
best cure for jetlag is Turkish coffee

...served by this guy!
...served by this guy!

I traveled to Jordan for a work meeting, hosted by the Jordan Valley Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa. Not too shabby. (Have I mentioned that I love my job?) We arrived in the middle of the night, which made it hard to appreciate the hotel's proximity to the Dead Sea. After some strong Turkish coffee the next morning, we were delighted to find out that the Dead Sea was RIGHT THERE. If this had been a typical beachfront property, we could have seen the lapping waves from our balcony. However, at the Dead Sea things are a bit different.

way below sea level, but still not at the sea
way below sea level, but still not AT the sea
way below sea level, but still not AT the sea

For starters, the hotel is already below sea level, and then you have to go DOWN to get to the sea itself.

beach slippers for all!
beach slippers for all!

ready to brave the rocks, in my Dead Sea bowling shoes
ready to brave the rocks, in my Dead Sea bowling shoes

Dead Sea shoreline
Dead Sea shoreline

If that weren't weird enough, the shoreline is rocky, not sandy. Once you get close to the water it's pretty rough on bare feet. The hotel conveniently provides its guests with "beach slippers." Mmmmm, bowling shoes in a foreign country, how unexpected!

Mark floats vertically
Mark floats vertically

circus seals
circus seals

Floating in the Dead Sea is a surreal experience. Its hypersalinity makes you bob awkwardly on the surface; you literally can not sink. It's goofy. (I felt like a circus seal.) Do not get any in your mouth if you can help it; the taste is indescribably harsh and mineral-y. Plus it's got this bizarre slippery texture that makes it seem like you're swimming in motor oil. And heaven help you if you've got any cuts or even scratches. After a few minutes my leg started to burn and I realized I had a microscopic scrape on my shin. Not something I'd noticed before getting in the water, but the Dead Sea did not let me off the hook so easily. Owee!

where HASN'T oktapodi been??
where HASN'T oktapodi been?
where HASN'T oktapodi been?

Right, so after a few minutes we'd had enough of that. Floating in the Dead Sea, check. The other must-do is coating oneself in Dead Sea mud, reknown for its therapeutic properties. Mark was a little suspicious, but of course I dove right into the clay jar of mud sitting at the shoreline. I didn't go quite so far as to coat my entire body, just my face and arms. Mudtastic! I could feel it tingling on my skin, which was fun, but it turned out to be  pretty tenacious stuff to remove. Thankfully the hotel provides a nearby shower to rinse and scrub off. I'm all in favor of getting dirt under my fingernails, but I wasn't too keen on showing up for my work meetings in blackface.

oktapodi approves of this business trip
oktapodi approves of this business trip

golden hour
golden hour
golden hour

We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the hotel's lovely infinity pools and gorgeous landscaping. Not a bad way to slough off the jetlag.


Full disclosure: most of you know that I work for Marriott, and since this was a work trip it was paid for by Marriott. But, as always, my opinions are my own!


RELATED LINKS:
* Jordan Valley Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa
* browse all Dead Sea pics
* browse all Jordan posts

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
12 April 2013
Photo Friday: Middle East teaser

I'm waaaaaaay behind on posting pics and stories from last month's trip to Jordan & Lebanon  -- due in small part to a technology snafu that turned into a mild panic this week --  but I'm back on task and should have some goodies for you soon. Meanwhile I didn't want anyone to abandon hope, so here are a few quick teaser photos from our delightful accommodations at the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa.

Views from our room by night...

Jordan Valley Marriott at night

Jordan Valley Marriott at night


...and by day (that's the Dead Sea in the hazy background of the second photo)

Jordan Valley Marriott by day

Jordan Valley Marriott by day


And just for kicks, one from Petra, because who couldn't use a little cameltoe on a Friday?

Petra cameltoe

More to come, including our adventures in Beirut. Stay tuned!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments