Books and Mementos: The Holy Land
This past winter we spent three weeks in Israel and Jordan, an itinerary that for many includes the famous carved city of Petra. We all know it from Indiana Jones, but few could tell you what it actually is. So if you’ve found yourself planning a trip to Petra without really knowing anything about the area, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Marguerite van Geldermalsen’s autobiography, Married to a Bedouin. As a traveler who also knew nothing of the area before arriving, then falling in love and becoming a bedouin herself, you can imagine that her unique perspective gives incredible insight into the bedouin culture at Petra.
No visit to the Holy Land is complete without a memento of your visit as pilgrims have done for thousands of years. Here’s a few ideas on what to buy to remind you of your journey:
Jerusalem Anything carved of olive wood is a great reminder of the city. A scarf for women, or kippot for men can be useful for wearing to the holy sites and makes a great souvenir. I only found a few antique shops in the Old City, but they certainly had some treasures to admire, even if you don’t buy anything!
Bethlehem At Afteem’s Restaurant, I bought a bottle of Palestinian olive oil for my mom, who is a cooking oil connoisseur! Here we also visited the Bethlehem Icon Center, where young Palestinian artists study to learn the art of holy icons. If you are religious, I would highly recommend learning a bit about this ancient art and supporting the center.
Petra There are dozens of trinket sellers inside the carved city. Since we stopped and talked to so many of them, I found something small to buy from each of them—a pair of thin harem pants, a tiny carved camel, a bedouin mascara container necklace, and an antique antelope lock.
Madaba Artists will love this little town that has been named Jordan’s mosaic capital. The best souvenir to get from here is of course, mosaics!
Amman If you’re a coffee person, you’ll fall in love with the Arab-style coffee in Jordan which is brewed with cardamom. You can bring a bag home from Izhiman coffee which is in the fruit and vegetable souq.
Planning a trip to Jordan or Israel? Start here:
How We Took a Three-Week Trip to the Holy Land for Less Than $300 Per Person
Itinerary and Price Breakdown: Christmas in the Holy Land