Amman is a wonderful base for travel throughout Jordan as well as into Jerusalem. Al Pasha is not to be missed and as I lived in Amman, a visit to Al Pasha became, almost, an addiction.
Olive Oil Soap Scrubs in Jordan
Jordan is a sought-after destination for many people who want to experience the friendliness of the Middle East, Biblical history and ancient Roman sites, but the country has so much more to offer if you’re willing to spend time looking for it. I was fortunate to be able to spend four years there; baking in mud and floating in the Dead Sea, walking the ancient ruins of Petra, and exploring Jerash. But Amman, where I lived, is full of restaurants and nightlife. So, what’s a girl to do after drinking at the lively night spots in Amman? My answer is to treat my body (and, I’ll confess, possible hangover) to a wonderful few hours at Al Pasha.
My first time there I found it odd that there was an old motorcycle and VW bug outside the door and honestly wondered if I was in the right place. When I walked into Al Pasha’s antechamber, I knew I was absolutely where I was supposed to be. I found myself in the middle of a room that embodied the “Middle Eastern-ness” of a hammam: tall palm trees, Arabesque tiles and colored glass chandeliers, all lit by natural sunlight with birds flying through the air.
But that is just the room on the way to walk into… the small, faintly musty smelling changing room (this may seem like a disappointment, but don’t lose faith!). I changed into my bathing suit quickly, donning slippers handed to me when I entered. What I love about going to Al Pasha is that after changing, I can just give myself over to being led through the hammam experience. No matter how many times I visit, the minute I step into the large and warm hammam room where the quieted is punctuated by the sound of water I let my guard down and totally relax as there is nothing for me to do but to follow the directions of the women in charge.
The first room is the steam room and it is hot! I enjoy a good sweat, knowing that it is softening my skin for the scrub and that all the toxins are leaching out of my pores (I have cured many a wild weekend this way). It is all made bearable by the ice cold hibiscus drink, the chilled cloth on my face, and the quiet of the room where the person next to you cannot be seen through the thick steam.
The next step differs a bit from other hammams, because here at Al Pasha, you soak in a jacuzzi while waiting for your turn on the scrub slab. Over the years I made visits with my daughter, my mother, a visiting cousin… most of the women who visited me. The jacuzzi soak is the time to quietly chat and laugh if you are with others. When I am on my own, I look up at the colored bottles placed in the ceiling for light and let my thoughts slip away.
Called to the heated marble slab, I am ready for my favorite part! Here the young women will scrub you and gleefully show you the skin that is falling off as they work on each area. My chest tends to have thin skin, so I ask for them to be a bit gentle in this area. The rest of my body I do like to have scrubbed hard. The scrubbers will adjust the pressure of their scrubbing, so don’t be shy about letting them know your preference.
Once all the dead skin is scrubbed off, after all skin is washed with olive oil soap, it is time for a massage. This part seems to seal in the baby soft skin as the massage is done with olive oil. Here my eyes are covered with a fresh cloth, and as my body is kneaded with oil, the cadence of running water and murmuring women is in the background further relaxes and rejuvenates me.
I never want the hammam experience to end, but sadly, it always does. Showered and dressed, I sip tea or Turkish coffee in the “in between room” where I slowly contemplate my day ahead. Heaven!
It is best to book in advance, as it can become busy and you may be turned away as a
walk-in. Also, there are different times for male and female. Do wear a bathing suit, as nudity is not the norm. You can expect there to be several woman at different stages in the hammam with you. The attendants are the same gender and dressed in shorts and tank tops.
It does get quite hot in the steam room, so I suggest taking off all jewelry. Better yet, leave it behind when you come for the hammam.
Towels are provided for you, but do bring your own hair products and lotion for showering afterwards. Lockers are also provided.
Amman can be reached by any major airport and the airport in Amman is fairly new, large and modern. Do know where you are going when you use a taxi, or have a driver ready to pick you up.
There are many large hotels to choose, which can all offer information and services.
Why Travel There?
Jordan is safe and the seat of biblical history and outdoor offerings – think ancient Roman ruins in Jerash, Petra, the Dead Sea, the desert of Wadi Rum, the water canyon hikes, Dana Biosphere Preserve… I can definitely go on!
Restaurant choice in Amman is very good. My absolute favorite cocktail bar is Oobe, and the Blue Fig or The Loft is always a treat for fresh food. Fakhreldin Restaurant is fantastic for local flavors and Books@Cafe is an expat favorite.
If you are thinking about traveling to Jordan, International Visit Jordan is a good place to start.