Amman is a very cool city with a strong European flair, but an Arab sensibility. There is great food to be had easily and a lively cultural and social life. It is also near one of the seven wonders of the world: Petra, which is one of those cultural destinations that is really worth the trip.
The city is very close to the relaxing aqueous solution that is the Dead Sea. Just don’t get the liquid in your eyes. It is about 31.5% salt so while it looks like water it does not feel like water, neither in consistency (oddly viscous feeling) nor in resultant buoyancy (bizarrely high). As with all unusual natural waters in the world, it is believed to possess semi-supernatural healing powers.
Saddam managed to build a fairly pretty complex here, with lots of artificial lakes (originally filled with potable water). Along one of those lakes is the Gates of Babylon restaurant. The food is excellent and the adjoining room is a hookah bar. The Nex5 does a pretty good job at night.
The palace is pretty inside, though the construction is legendarily shoddy and parts of the palace are starting to disintegrate as salt in the sand mixed in with the concrete disintegrates it. The main hall is quite dramatic with a three story chandelier.
Excellent, open until 2:00am
Dinner with Chris and Mona.
Not a bad club, stylish and quiet but the liquor selection isn’t very good (limited, mostly well-drinks) though it is free and there’s food.
There is good free wifi with no hassle (not even a log-in screen, so you can use it with a skype phone).
Winter is beautiful in Tuscany. The light is more gentle all day than in the summer and the warmth seems closer when the distant mountains are covered in snow and the nights are cold. We had a lovely time there, if only for two nights, warming the house with the wood furnace and taking long walks down to town and up to Rocca.
We ate at I Macelli in Borgo a Mazzano the first night – I had the Minestra Di Cereali, then the Ravioli di Castagne and finally the Filetto Di Manzo, all excellent as always. The food at I Macelli is excellent, always. The second night we had dinner at The Butterfly, just outside of Lucca. Butterfly is a Michelin rated restaurant and perhaps the best restaurant I’ve ever been to. Everything there is amazing.
Carolyn and I both had the “of the land” tasting menu. Of I think about 8 courses, only the pasta with sardines was not to my taste, but I don’t normally like them anyway and even so it was good.
It is a source of constant amazement how affordable first rate restaurants are in Italy. The food there is much better than anything one can get in the US, probably because the supply tend to be local and everything is made fresh and from local ingredients, and possibly for the same reason the prices are surprisingly low, even with the painful exchange rate one eats better in Italy than one could in the US at 4-5 times the price.
And then there’s the bulk wine dispensed into your own bottle at less than 2 euro a liter…
We had a wonderful meal at the Restoran Dvorisce. The local Croatian wine was very good and the food excellent: Carolyn had the spaghetti with crab and I had swordfish. The restaurant is stylish and clean and the service was excellent.
The night before we ate at Masklin I Lata, a cute little local homestyle restaurant with a great selection of local brandies. I had vegetable farina soup, Carolyn tomato rice. She had seafood risotto and I seafood spaghetti. All excellent.