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porcupine Amman - A travel report by Bryan
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Amman,  Jordan - flag Jordan
2951 readers

porcupine's travel reports

Amman the Road Again

  12 votes
The capital of Jordan is a good base from which to see everything the country has to offer the foreign traveler. Most of what you would want to see including Moses’ final destination of Mt. Moab...

'Western" model doing a photo-shoot at Roman Amphitheater
the Roman ruins at Jerash, the Dead Sea itself, and Petra is reachable from Amman. Unfortunately I went to Jordan as a way to renew my visa in Israel and I didn’t see any of that cool stuff. I had planned to return later with a friend who never made it because of his appendix bursting. Rotten luck aside, I learned that many hotels offer bus trips to the sites from Amman, and it is probably a good way to get out to Wadi Rum and some of the other exotic locales. As such, my Jordanian experience was confined to 4 glorious days in the bustling capital of Amman. It wasn’t all bad and if you have plans to spend any time there you may want to read on.

Favourite spots:
The Roman Amphitheater itself, downtown Amman
The Roman Amphitheater itself, downtown Amman
First of all what they say about the Jordanians in all the guide books is true. They are super friendly to travelers in general and most interpersonal activity is positive. Granted your taxi drivers and hotel employees are all running their own private transportation and tourist business on the side, but at least they are pleasant about it. I stayed in the Palace Hotel which seems like an ironic title when you get a look at your room, but compared to other hotels with a similar price, things could be worse. For $18 or 12 JD (Jordanian Dinar) I got a private room with a shower and satellite TV. Sounds good but for the ever present smell of mold, peeling lead paint that constantly snowed in the bathroom, and the scalding hot shower. The location however was prime if you want to be in the heart of the old city near the central mosque, and they also had good Internet access.

What's really great:
Did I mention that it's crowded?
Did I mention that it's crowded?
The heart of town is rough. It’s frantic, diesel scented, lamb carcass in the window, hookah selling chaos, and that’s why it’s fun. Restaurants and cafes seem non existent, but if you turn your head up to the 2nd and 3rd floors you may spot some of the hidden balconies and signs offering tea and chicken. Not one I visited was opulent, but each offered full meals for 3 and 4 JD, and each restaurant owner was so gracious I thought he might next offer me his daughter’s hand. The Lonely Planet lists various restaurants including the Blue Fig and the Books Café. Neither was bad, but nor did they offer anything remotely Arabic or authentic.

Security at Citadel looking out onto cityscape
Security at Citadel looking out onto cityscape
Jordan seems to be running a bootleg DVD industry to rival Hollywood. You can get homemade copies of anything that was ever released both from street vendors and legitimate stores. The quality of the product is dubious so caveat emptor. Black-market aside, there are deals to be had. Even with the US dollar trading lower than the Dinar, the prices are cheap. Absolutely magnificent one piece dresses hang in every other shop and can be yours for 10 to 30 JD. Shimmering Islamic patterns, fine fabrics, and bejeweled design adorn the dresses, each one as refined as the last. If you’ve got the money they would make fine gifts that pack easily.

I like to be near ruins, and ruins like to be near me.
I like to be near ruins, and ruins like to be near me.
There are not a ton of sights to behold in Amman. The city is super crowded and it is loaded with steep hills so prepare to walk. The Roman Theater is well preserved and impressive. There are two museums included in the low entry price so check them out. Across the street high on a hill is the citadel. Here you can get a view of most of the sprawling city and the ancient ruins are worth inspecting. Definitely go to the archaeological museum at the citadel. In a humble case you will find several pieces of the Dead Sea scrolls. This was shocking to me as the main house of the scrolls in Jerusalem (Shrine of the Book) only shows you replicas.

King Abdullah Mosque
King Abdullah Mosque
The King Abdullah Mosque is high on a hill away from the center, but it is open to the public during certain hours and maybe worth seeing if you’ve never been in a mosque. I took a taxi to go further a field out by embassy row where there is much more greenery and much less chaos. Here you can actually find some cafes and fancier restaurants where the citizens with money and power hang out, but for my money it was sterile compared to the lively downtown.

Child at play near Citadel
Child at play near Citadel
Taxi is the main way to get around the country, but you can get a bus to Petra from Amman for less than 5 JD, as compared to the 50-100 JD taxi. Otherwise the hotel tour bus or packaged tour bus may be safer and more convenient. If you are really feeling brave you can even take a 12 hour bus to Baghdad from Amman. Most travelers I met were passing through from Syria which got rave reviews. Jordan could be a fine part of a larger tour that includes Israel and Egypt, but if you plan on going to Syria, Lebanon, or other parts of the Arab world, then cross Israel off your list. These countries do not recognize each other and you will be stuck wherever you are.

Published on Saturday April 19th, 2008

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Sat, May 10 2008 - 06:04 AM rating by marianne

I really liked your photos (and the writing as well)

Fri, Apr 25 2008 - 04:59 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Pleasant read.

Mon, Apr 21 2008 - 06:44 PM rating by bootlegga

Great title!

Sun, Apr 20 2008 - 06:10 AM rating by davidx

I like the way you get your personal angle across here without detracting from the provision of information.

Sat, Apr 19 2008 - 10:50 AM rating by rangutan

An interesting report.

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