Sunday, February 22, 2015


We took a taxi from our Amman hotel to the airport to pick up our rental car. We decided it would be easiest to rent from the airport which is outside of the city. We had reserved a Mazda 3 but ended up with a type we've never heard of; Ssangyong! The trip to Petra was easy, with easy to access gas stations (but always keep a full tank as stations are harder to find in smaller areas), well maintained highways, good signage and GPS on my phone. It's surreal to drive down the highway and just see camels hanging out. We had a few dogs try to chase us but happily we didn't run any over!

Once we arrived in Petra we found our hotel, Movenpick, right near the gates to Petra. Our room was nice with a large patio. The lobby reminded me of a luxurious hotel of a bygone era. Because it is off season there is a lot less tourists, and the cooler temperatures are perfect for hiking.

On the advice of a Land Lopers article we decided against going to the Petra at night event. Instead, We purchased a 2 day pass at a cost of 55 Jordan Dinar per person. After the first night we were up early before the crowds to explore Petra. This turned out to be a great plan, we enjoyed the hike and sights with hardly any other tourists. The hike begins immediately with many ancient carvings, cave dwellings and tombs. As you pass through the Siq you begin to glimpse the magnificent Treasury Building, which is actually a mausoleum. We opted to hike up to The Monastery, actually a tomb, as well. The hike is worth it! At the top we rested with fresh fruit juice, friendly cats and enjoyed the view. Food, drinks and trinkets are available in spots scattered through out Petra. The second day we hiked up to another mountain top and took in the view of the amphitheatre.

After three nights in Petra we jumped in the rental car to head to our next destination near the Dead Sea. The trip should have been about three hours but took us five thanks to getting lost in the town of Tafila. After trying to find the turn off four times, going down a one way the wrong way, and traversing across the centre of town three times we had to concede that google maps was as confused as us. The alleged turn off existed only in GPS. Of course all this heavy GPS use left us with an almost depleted iPhone battery and still a long way to go to our destination. We stopped in town and after possibly illegal parking in a bus terminal, a lot of sign language, and two purchases we found a car charging adapter for the cigarette lighter. (The cars built in USB charger is apparently just for show). A local pointed us in the general direction to get back on the right route. We drove out of town and took the turn off he had described. We figured at least it seemed to be heading towards the Dead Sea, in all honesty we were driving more by "feel" at this point. We started to traverse an extremely winding road, carved into the side of a mountain, that dropped alarmingly in elevation as we drove. As we got to the bottom GPS caught up and we found ourselves headed in the right direction on the highway adjacent to the Dead Sea. From there we easily found out next stop; Evason Ma'an Hotsprings.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Adventures in Amman

We are in Amman for two nights. We started our first morning with a walk to downtown Amman. On the way we found a cellular dealer and picked up a SIM card so we can easily stay connected and most importantly use GPS.

We walked over 12kms and thanks to the hilly landscape the equivalent of 34 flights of stairs. We checked out the impressive Roman ruins amphitheatre built in 138-161 AD.

We also toured the fantastic Jordan Automobile Museum. The collection was amazing containing cars we've never seen elsewhere.

Now we are off to Petra in our rental car!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

More Calgary Vegan Delights!

Heart's Choices recently opened up their new Vegan Thai Cafe and grocery. They have fantastic meals, including my favourite dish; satay skewers with a peanut sauce. As well they have vegan cakes and desserts from Purple Pastry Chef and vegan chocolate bars from Sjaak's and Go Max Go Foods. In addition they sell hand crafted, local made, cultured cashew based vegan cheese.

My regular go to restaurant is the very tasty all vegetarian (and mostly vegan) Tamarind Vietnamese Grill & Noodle House. Favourite dishes include: Deep fried wonton, Crispy spring rolls, Tamarind house special noodle soup (Pho Dac Biet), and Pad thai. Generous portions, affordable prices and lovely staff!

My favourite coffee shop, Phil and Sebastian, often have a vegan muffin or cake donut at the Mission and Marda Loop locations I frequent. Speaking of donuts, did you know you can also advance order vegan doughnuts from Jelly Modern Doughnuts? Make a great birthday surprise sure to delight the vegan in your life!

Fresh pressed juices have exploded on the scene in Calgary with many different purveyors. I've enjoyed Well Juicery (also found at Phil and Sebastian) and my all time favourite Cru Juice. (Cru also has an amazing nut based milk with vanilla bean.) Cru Juice is available from their store front and various spots around town including the little neighbourhood bodega and caterer Our Daily Brett. Our Daily Brett does a great job remembering the vegans and often has a section of vegan friendly salads, dips, soups and Sidewalk Citizen Bakery breads. They make a new daily meal to go, which is sometimes a vegan friendly offering. Sign up on their website to get their weekly menu.

And you are looking for gluten free and vegan baking look no further than Baked From the Heart! I admit I rarely like GF baking but their moist, tasty mini cupcakes topped with piles of rich icing have swayed me! I'm glad I had some GF guests coming over to have an excuse to check out their wares.

Oh and a little bonus Justin's Dark Peanut Butter Cups are now available at Starbucks!