7 days in Jordan, an end of February dream trip with the most unexpected itinerary, starting from the depths of the Wadi Rum desert to the heights of Mount Nebo, through the ancient carved city of Petra and upstream the Jordan River, following closely the mystical paths of Christianity.
Even if I tried to plan this holiday to the smallest detail, the actual 7-day trip to Jordan, exceeded any expectations by far. Jordan is considered to be an expensive country. But with a moderate budget for two people and a rented car, we managed to balance and enjoy all that Jordan had to offer from South to North and back. In one week only!
“A 1-day Abu Dhabi itinerary and a list of must-see cultural attractions, from traditional Arabesque architecture landmarks to Emirati craftsmanship hubs.”
If you’re visiting Abu Dhabi right now, you’re so damn lucky!! Because I miss that beautiful city even when I’m already there. Once per year for the last 19 years. With this in mind, I decided a 1-day Abu Dhabi itinerary to the most Emirati culture-filled attractions (which has always been that special must-do on each of my arrivals) should be a one-of-a-kind post on my travel blog. The everlasting smell of the oud perfumes carried over the windy beaches of the Corniche and all heritage sites begging to be explored!
Visiting the Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala’un Mosque. What a marvelous architecture! And so much history to share with the visitors…
The mosque located in the Citadel in Cairo, Egypt was built in the 14th century (year 1318) by the Mamluk sultan Al-Nasr Muhammad as a royal mosque for the fortress. Sultan El-Nasir Mohammed was the son of Sultan Qala’un and the ruler of Egypt for about 42 years. The mosque is admired for its large size since it has capacity for 5000 person and was one of the major congregational places in the region of the Citadel for a long time.
2002 – My first flight, my first stop, the Emirates. A time when Abu Dhabi and Dubai were roads less traveled than they are today. An exotic paradise taken out from the Arabian nights stories: wonderful oasis spread among the dunes where you could easily get lost, extreme safari trips, climbing up and going down the sands like a “desert montagne russe” run by brave, local Arabs; the flavored shisha and mysterious women hiding behind the veils. Authenticity. Much more than today. Today this is synonym with luxury. Back then, with a newly discovered world of sun and sand, yet untouched by tourism.
But most charming and captivating among all these wonders – the souks. Arabic traditional markets with crazy wonders catching your eyes from the first sight.: sparkling jewelry, traditional clothing and shoes, pashmina shawls. The marvelous wonders of the Gulf.
First souk I visited used to be in Dubai Deira, on the river shores. A souk sadly gone now, burnt in a fire and replaced by a new souk that in my opinion is far, far away in terms of quality and regional specific comparing to the original one. Commercial wins over traditions and new and inspired over Arabic beauties.
A legendary 14th century souk (inspired by the ancient subterranean souk in Baghdad), but modern and alive made my disappointment become past. The moment I discovered Khan Murjan at Wafi Mall. Also pretty new, but has every characteristic of an authentic Arabic world souk – a mix of culture from the Gulf Area, a wonderful rebirth not only for the traditions, but also for my personal memories.A fascinating architecture of fairy tales – lively colors and warm textures, like an extravagant temple for shopping.
My choice? Lebanese store Khan Al Saboun. Who could ignore the wonderful jasmine natural soaps and the massage oil with melon fragrance? And the stories that came with them… It seems the store belongs to an artisan called Badr Hassoun and making soap is a long and meaningful tradition in his family. He learned how to make soap from his grandparents who used to prepare their own natural soap at home. Scented body oils, natural hair oils, all luxury beauty products and candles – exquisite scents that arise your senses from far.
Just a few bits among everything your hearts desires from spices to jewelry, art works and textiles that make history. In the center of the souk there is a restaurant, a marble and wood courtyard in open air with traditional Lebanese, Moroccan, Turkish, Syrian, Egyptian foods and drinks. The Om-Ali had a great taste and the aroma of a Turkish coffee makes any visit complete.
The magic of the marvelous Islamic souk of Khan Murjan seems to be in gathering in one place the most talented craftsmen of the region and serve as an exhibition for their unique handmade products and especially their talents and amazing Arabic traditions sometimes forgotten.
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