When I was on the bus heading to Ramallah, I did not know what to expect upon my arrival. I refused to check images of the city on Google Image in advance, so I could discover everything by myself, without any spoilers. And I was very pleasantly surprised!
Ramallah is such a vibrant and animated city with very dynamic nightlife. Not the image influenced by articles about the West Bank in the media, focusing on poverty, misery, despair, suffering. I saw many new cars on the roads, many people eating out in nice restaurants and hanging out in bars, a lot of new building developments and roads, which stands for certain economical progres. I left Ramallah three days later, overpowered with the feeling of joy, happiness, hope and excitement about the city and its inhabitants. No, three days are not enough and being a tourist is not living the local life, but I did not detect this complete hopelessness as in some places in South-East Asia, for example. Hope! This is the word I would associate with Ramallah.
Two more things will be closely linked to this place: manakish and ice-cream. Available in many places of the Levant, manakish is flat bread topped with different goodness: za’atar, cheese, ground meat etc. It is sold either in special manakish shops or at street food stalls and is equally good on its own or accompanied with a meal.
|Manakish with goat cheese and mushroom|
|Manakish with za'atar|
|Goes well with the local beer|
Oh, and the local ice-cream! They make it from the resin of chewing gum, imported mainly from Greece, which contributes to its unique taste and elastic texture. Now I can tell for sure that the best ice-cream that I’ve ever had was not in Italy, but in Ramallah. If you have a chance, try pistachio!
|Pistachio ice-cream. Yes, it's white!|