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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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