Ever wondered what it truly is like in a Palestinian city? Palestinians and their plight have mostly been defined by doom and gloom, but they are quite a resilient people–case in point the city of Ramallah. My father is from the West Bank city of Ramallah, which began as a village of 5 family tribes dating hundreds of years ago. Below is a picture of the original house where my father’s family tree can be traced back 400 years. I thought the doors were small because my ancestors were much tinier than me. Turns out the doors were built small on purpose to thwart any invaders arriving on horseback.
Now this town has become a veritable metropolis full of hotels, high rise apartments, and excellent restaurants and after hours bars and lounges. While most people associate Palestine with images of Gaza only, which is a geographically isolated open air prison, they don’t see what Palestinians can do when given some freedom. Ramallah is what happens when Palestinians are allowed to thrive a little bit. This city was always revolutionary in that it was one of the first Arab cities to open a girl’s school in the 1869, and women also participated in government long before the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Ramallah represents the resilience of the Palestinian spirit, a desire to celebrate beauty through music, dance, and the visual and culinary arts, as well as a community dedicated to family and education.
The “Palestinian Plate” At the Millenium Hotel
If you do ever go to the Holy Land, do not be deterred by the “Danger do not enter at your own risk” signs at the entrance to Ramallah or Jericho. Palestinians are waiting for tourists like you, eager to share their hospitality with you!
I have listed some of my favorite places below to get you started, but in the meantime, here is my latest video, my treasured experience in Ramallah:
- MILLENNIUM HOTEL
- Well appointed rooms, buffet breakfast included, friendly service
- CARMEL HOTEL
- Massive rooms, buffet breakfast included, beautiful rooftop restaurant
- Darna Restaurant : Darna, which means “our house,” is in this case an elegant house with excellent Palestinian classics from Mussakhan and Musabaha to Kebabs and Kanafa
- Orjuwan: Fusion cuisine, try their mezze plate or felafel crusted shrimp–freakin genius!
- Bahri : A seafood lovers dream with plenty of fresh bread and middle eastern dips
- SnowBar Garden Pool Restaurant and Bar: Beautiful outdoor seating with a hipster European vibe, outdoor swimming pool, great Palestinian and American food and snacks
- Sky Gate Terrace and Bar : This revolving restaurant and bar is on the 23rd floor of the Palestinian Trade Tower. Sip your cocktail while enjoying spectacular 360 views of Ramallah. The sunset is breathtaking!
- Sangria’s : King sized paella that would make Spain proud along with live Music
Aker Sweets : The Founder of this bakery is from Nablus, the birthplace of Kanafeh. Hands down this is the most refined kenafah I have ever had in my life, buttery dough enveloping fresh sweet cheese or eshta, a light as air custard. Try everything, walk it off, and do it all over again the next day. Proud to say I actually lost a couple of pounds doing this!
- Rukab’s Ice Cream : The original Ramallah treat, ice cream that stretches like Mozarella cheese! Try the Kinder Bueno, Oreo, and Dark Chocolate flavors
- Baladna Ice Cream : Salted Caramel and anything with Nutella in it is divine!