MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600 700 Prē HTC Evo,Samsung 5. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

AMM => FRA => SFO

 Flying over Greenland 
The best thing I can say is that a three airport day is not as bad as a four airport day.  I think we calculated 28 hours of total travel time from our hotel in Amman to the front door in San Francisco. The flight leaves at 2:00 AM.  Alaa got us to the airport at 11:00.  Lots of security in Amman. Bags checked going into the terminal,  again at the security checkpoint with manual checks of carry-ons for both of us, and randomly checked again at the gate. They confiscated my nail clipper.

We flew Lufthansa from Amman to Frankfurt. After about a six hour layover in Frankfurt, we flew United to SFO.  We paid for a ticket, but  used points and fees to upgrade to Business Class.

Lufthansa Business Class 
We learned that Business Class in a Lufthansa A320 is exactly the same seating as coach, except they don't put anyone in the middle seat. There is almost no recline. It was only about a four hour flight, but we'll avoid Lufthansa in the future.

The Lounge in Frankfurt is comfortable with all the amenities. I was pulled at the gate and taken down the hall at the airport for an extra security check while Sigrid boarded. I don't know why.


The 11 hours on United was in the upper deck of a 747 with full recline seat pods. Much better. I watched two movies. Dr. Strange and I forgot the other one. EDIT: I remembered! I also watched the Ben Hur remake - a truly forgettable film. What were they thinking?

At SFO the Customs agent wanted to know why we had so many bags, but waved us through. These long hauls are not fun, but the price you pay for any great travel adventure. Glad to be home. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Jordan Day 8 - Desert Castles and Jordan Desserts


Itinerary Day 25:  Dead Sea/ Desert Castles/ Amman City Tour/ Departure (275 Km)
"Breakfast. Transfer to the Desert Castles. Visit Al Kharaneh, Qasr Amra and Al Azraq castles. These were built by the Umayyads to serve as caravan stations and hunting lodges for travelers, where some of their walls and floors are adorned with frescos and fragments of mosaic. The closest is al Kharranah, which is about an hour’s drive from Amman. The next one is Amra Castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the last castle in the northeast located in the town of Azraq is Qasr Al Azraq, which served as the residence of Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt. Return to Amman to visit the ruins of the Amman Roman theater, the Citadel and the Umayyad Palace. The tour includes visits to the Archaeological and Folklore Museums. Transfer to QAIA for departure."
 Decisions... Decisions... 
Journal: 
As previously noted, this was our last day in Jordan, the last day of our trip, and we decided to take separate paths for the morning excursion. I played 18 holes at Jordan's second best golf course, while Sigrid stuck to the itinerary. These are some her photos of desert castles:


I'm sure many important historical events occurred here.


Which I could relate if I participated in the morning tour, which I didn't.


I think Lawrence planned attacks with the Arab Revolt leaders here.


Other stuff happened.


Sigrid's favorite photo from the morning:


Alaa and Sigrid picked me up after the 19th hole, and we returned to tour the Citadel, Roman Amphitheater,  local museums and spectacular vistas of Amman.







Our last stop was a walk through the Amman Souk (markets).


We stopped in the gold market and got an education on Jordanian traditions for welcoming a newborn into a family.


And finally, after 26 days, our tour was at end. Hard to believe. Alaa insisted that we make one more stop before heading back to the hotel to pack for the airport.  We had to sample the traditional and favorite dessert of Jordan - kunafa - a sweet hot gooey, cheesy, fila and honey infused confection.


Served up at the famous Habibah Sweets, a stand that always has a line down the block and a repuation for the best kunafa anywhere.


A fantastic dessert to finish this incredible trip.  Time to go home.

Editors Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Egypt and Jordan adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Internet access is always a crapshoot. My hope is that by pre-loading the itinerary it will be easier to add some pics and journal commentary as time and the internet permits. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. Further!

Live Blogging Bisharat Golf Club - Golf in the Kingdom (of Jordan)

  My caddy Saeed 
It's our last full day in Jordan. The itinerary calls for touring Desert Castles in and around Amman. I've no doubt that excursion would be an interesting and historically important addition to our tour, but... I've seen a lot of castles and historic sites over the last 3+ weeks. 

Alaa continued the planned itinerary with Sigrid, but first he dropped me off at the Bisharat Golf Club.


Blame Stuart.  Early in the trip he made a comment on Facebook suggesting I check out the new Greg Norman design that recently opened in Aqaba, but Aqaba was not on our tour. Nevertheless, the seed was planted. How often will I get a chance to play golf in the Middle East? I hoped to play earlier at the Mena House Hotel course in the shadow of the pyramids, but the course was closed for renovations.  Now it's the last day of the trip, and I'm lacing up my hiking boots in the parking lot for a round of golf.  



You read that right. You don't need spikes at Bisharat Golf Club. In fact, you don't want them, for reasons that will soon be obvious. Bisharat a family run course, founded by Julia and her husband in 1990.


She used to live in San Francisco and ran a Lebanese restaurant on Lombard before moving to Jordan and opening Bisharat. Note the Warriors cap. 



I didn't bring any golf gear with me, so she set me up with rental clubs, golf balls, glove, tees, and a caddy - Saeed - who proved to be invaluable. 



Saeed is from Egypt, a 10 handicap, and I think you can see in these pictures how happy he is to be caddying for me, midway through the round.


As noted, this is the 2nd best course in Jordan. Before the aforementioned Ayla course in Aqaba opened a few months ago, it was the only course in Jordan. Nine holes, with double tees on each hole, you get a different look as you go around for your 18. All the tee boxes are rubber mats, and you carry your fairway with you.  Really. There are no real fairways in the classic "grass" sense, so the local rule is that you drop a small astroturf mat on the ground where your ball lands and hit your fairway shot off the mat.


Also the greens are black. Again avoiding the troublesome and expensive "grass" concept, the greens are oiled sand, groomed before and after each shot.



Although they look odd, the case can be made that they roll faster and truer than the Lincoln Park greens in San Francisco. Obviously, the course is not for purists, but I had a great time playing, and with Saeed's guidance, even sank a 10 footer for a birdie on 12.  I'll  eventually update this post with a video clip of my birdie, but in the meantime - here is a still shot that shows the track  and gives you an inkling of how a great caddy can help you with the line:



Net net - great fun. Even with local rules it felt like real golf, and my score reflected it.


100 on the nose (49 51) and I still had time for the afternoon excursions. A fine finish to our Jordan tour.

Editor's  Note: Okay, this is not actually a "live blog" of the round. The internet was a bit iffy from the course and I really just said that to get the attention of my regular "Bad Golf" playing partners.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Jordan Day 7 - Dead Sea


Itinerary Day 24:  Wadi Rum/ Dead Sea (330 Km)
"Breakfast. Transfer to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of earth, for a swim in its warm salty water. Free time at leisure. Overnight at hotel"
 Back to a room with a view. 
Journal: 
Quite a contrast. This morning we awoke in an unheated Bedouin Camp in the desert. We arose with the light, had breakfast on the carpet covered floor of the dining tent, said farewell to our hosts...


...then rendezvoused with Alaa in the van for the drive to the Dead Sea. Today, we are at the Kempinski Resort Hotel/Spa on the shores of the Dead Sea.


Only one afternoon and night here. We have a great view and a spectacular room overlooking the infinity pool and Dead Sea. And another birthday cake waiting in the room. For anyone keeping count, this is number 6:


At this point, we were over two weeks past my birthday, so I told Sigrid I thought it was getting a little ridiculous. She said she never notified the hotel. Then we read the note. The cake wasn't for me. It was mistakenly delivered to our room. Oh well.


As the trip winds down, I would have been happy to spend a couple days here and take advantage of the spa services to relax after three weeks of non-stop touring. But we only have this afternoon and tonight before heading back to Amman in the morning. No time to waste. After cleaning off the desert sand, we head down to the poolside cafe for lunch:




It's warmer here than the rest of Jordan, but by late afternoon the temperature was starting to drop. But you cannot travel to the Dead Sea without floating in the Dead Sea. So down to the beach for the full Dead Sea treatment, which apparently also includes Dead Sea mud:







Sundowners on the balcony.



I definitely could have stayed another day.

Editors Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Egypt and Jordan adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Internet access is always a crapshoot. My hope is that by pre-loading the itinerary it will be easier to add some pics and journal commentary as time and the internet permits. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. Further!