Jordan: Impressions of Amman

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Earlier this month I travelled to Jordan with my good friend A to see her clever and beautiful daughter N who is spending a year studying in the Jordanian capital: Amman.

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I knew before I went that Jordan is a safe place to visit: an oasis of peace in a sea of middle eastern conflict. Still though when we arrived, late in the evening, and went on foot in search of a restaurant I felt a frisson of anxiety. The reality was my anxiety was unwarranted. Not only is Jordan a low-risk place to go (in as much as anywhere in our turbulent world can be), but it also has a moderate crime rate, and visitors are warmly welcomed.

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Jordan is generally seen as the most liberal and westernised of the middle eastern countries. And Amman, leastways the area of Amman where we stayed, has a cosmopolitan feel. I saw very few women wearing burkas, many were wearing headscarves, but as many weren’t. Western style clothes are the norm. Women drive. The sale and consumption of alcohol is legal even if it is not as widely available as it is at home, not necessarily a bad thing.

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We stayed in a hotel in the Jabal Amman area just a few paces from the famous Rainbow Street which is the centre of cool in Amman. It and the streets and alleyways radiating from it are home to a festival of restaurants, cafes, and small shops. All of them are open late and the area is merry-go-round busy. Except for Fridays, the Sabbath for over ninety percent of the population, when the street and its surrounds have a Mary Celeste feel.

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Amman is a hilly city so walking around it is great exercice. Some of the hills are steep and hard on underused muscles but shortcuts, via flights of steps, abound. They are a great way to cut metres off a journey. The prettiest set I saw was lined with colourful plant-filled flowerpots and led to downtown Amman.

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Downtown appears to be where many of the locals shop and it is a veritable hubbub. Cars crawl by ceaselessly, there is an unending raucous symphony as drivers toot their horns and music blares through open car windows. People mill around as they enter and exit a melange of shops selling everything from everyday household goods to exotic spices. It’s not a downtown from central casting. No, rather, it’s gritty and real and speaks to hardscrabble lives in a city where average monthly wages are low and prices are not. (There are, by the way, shopping malls in other parts of the city.)

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Although I passed some lovely old villas much of the recent architecture in Amman is not of great merit. Still though, and despite the lack of green open space, the city looks lovely from many vantage points as the buildings which march up and down its undulating hills are covered with a sand coloured coating which giving them an aesthetically pleasing uniformity. And from certain spots the ancient Citadel which sits aloof on one of the hills, overlook the new city, is visible.

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The only word of Arabic I learnt while I was in Jordan is ‘shokran’ which means thank you. However communicating wasn’t a problem as English is widely and well spoken. And best of all everyone we spoke to was friendly, helpful, and welcoming.

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It’s a cliche to say travel broadens the mind but cliches often become cliches because they express a universal truth. I returned from my holiday in Jordan knowing a little more about a different country and different culture and that’s surely a good thing.

25 Comments

Filed under Travel

25 responses to “Jordan: Impressions of Amman

  1. Evangelina07

    I enjoyed reading your blog post. Jordan is very high up on my wishlist. Did you get to go to Wadi Rum or Petra? Would love to hear more about your trip.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful trip and the photos are beautiful!!

  3. What an interesting place to go! Often it’s only by having an entre like your friend’s daughter that we have an opportunity like this. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

  4. H

    B what a lovely post-your trip sounds so interesting. Hx

  5. Margaret

    Thank you for a trip down memory lane – I had the opportunity of visiting Jordan a few years back and was very taken with the country and their culture – we were lucky enough to visit Petra which will forever remain with me as one of the most astonishing places on earth.
    Your words & pictures paint the true reflection of Amman.

    Keep blogging, your pieces are always a pleasure to read .. Mx

    • Thank you so much Margaret. I am glad the post revived memories of your trip to Jordan. I did get to see Petra so I totally agree it is an incredible place. I only had five hours at the site which as you know is not enough to take everything it.
      I will keep blogging though most likely sporadically, your encouragement is much appreciated. Bx

  6. Surreycousin

    Loved your post B. Jordan, especially Petra is on my wish list too and is an oasis of sanity in a turbulent world – as N would testify from her visits.

  7. What a lovely adventure B! I agree with you that travel definitely does open the mind to new experiences. Amman sounds like a wonderful introduction to the middle-east! Funnily enough, when I visited Morocco last year, the only word in Arabic that I could remember was ‘shokran’ as well 🙂

  8. It looks so good. And the sky!!

  9. Geoff

    Great post and looks like an amazing visit.I absolutely love finding places to visit off the beaten track,thanks for the heads up.

    G.

  10. Nath @ BEAUTYCALYPSE

    Oops, I totally didn’t see this most lovely post of yours in my feed… or timeline? Whatever WordPress are calling it. Stream, perhaps? Anyway, I saw a few images over on Instagram, so it was great to read something about your journey. I’ve got a friend who is German but extended family connections are rooted in Jordan, and she won’t stop raving about it 😉

  11. What an interesting visit you must have had. The sights, the smell, the food…I bet it was all wonderful.

  12. Pingback: Great shots and nice perspective of Amman, Jordan’s capital city – Jordan Visit

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