Now, Amman is a city that I never really thought about visiting until my friend A moved there, and I found myself in the same relative part of the world. In fact, I’m not sure I really ever had much of a reason to give much thought at all to the city. Now, after having been there briefly, my curiosity has been piqued, and its definitely a city I want to return to – though given the recent protests there, I might wait a little while before I plan a return. While the protests seem to be much more peaceful and much less disruptive than those in Egypt, I prefer to avoid political turmoil whenever possible. I prefer cultural tourism to political tourism! Anyway, turning back towards this visit, I didn’t leave myself enough time (or energy) to explore much of the city, but while A was working, I just walked around the area that she lives in – West Amman. After snorkeling in Aqaba and hiking around Petra, I was too exhausted to do much more than that, but that will give me a good excuse to return to Jordan – I have hardly seen Amman yet!!
What I did see of Amman, though, I liked. It is a very clean city, with wide streets (at least in the area that I was wandering around), and big houses. There are a lot of cars, and, in fact, very few people out walking down the street. In fact, the concept of walking anywhere must be somewhat foreign to them because as I walked down the street, every single taxi that passed me honked and slowed down and tried to pick me up. I kept waving them off, and some would honk again, as if incredulous that I could possibly actually want to walk!! As someone who actually enjoys walking, the entertainment value of their reaction soon was surpassed by a mild annoyance factor, but I suppose if the worst thing that I can say about Amman is that the taxis are too eager, that really isn’t so bad, right?
Anyway, the streets were fairly empty, aside from guards posted outside some of the more elegant houses (some of which I believe are occupied by embassies or NGOs) and passing cars. West Amman isn’t really designed for walking, but I didn’t let that stop me! Here’s an example though: there aren’t sidewalks everywhere, but even where they have them, they often put trees right in the middle of them, so you have to walk in the road to get around them. Not very practical for anyone walking, let alone anyone with any kind of a disability! But walking a city is my favorite way to get to know an area and get comfortable, so I ignored the hills and trees in the middle of the sidewalks and a-walking I went, stepping into the street off the sidewalk to avoid trees or parked cars, as needed along the way.
West Amman is a fairly residential area, with some stores, restaurants and malls, so I had plenty to explore. A mall was actually a welcomed site after being in Djibouti for so long, where there is little to no shopping (other than grocery or souvenir) to be had! And this area of Amman also offered familiar symbols like “Pizza Hut” and “Kentucky Fried Chicken” – likely due to the high number of ex-pats in this neighborhood. I was actually a little tempted by the idea of some fried chicken, but I resisted and stuck to more traditional humus and flat bread. Very tasty and much healthier!
One thing I saw that surprised me (and now in retrospect I wish I had gone in) was a Java U. Now, there are some Java Us in Montreal, and I’ve been to them for coffee, food, and even for drinks on a birthday not too long ago. But I didn’t really remember the logo of the chain, and when I saw this one, I thought it was just a coincidence (hey, look at that, they have the same name as that chain in Montreal!) and didn’t think it actually could have been part of the chain – but apparently it was! I now wish I had gone in, because (and my friend S from Montreal will correct me if I’m wrong and thinking of the wrong place) if I remember correctly, they make some great fancy martinis at Java U, and it’s been a while since I’ve had a good cocktail! Not something too readily available when you’re living in a Muslim country. But oh well, once again, I guess that’s something that I’ll have for leave to my next trip to Amman!
For anyone interested in learning a bit more about Amman to plan a trip out there (since this post is disturbingly light on valuable information!), do a little research and I’m sure you’ll find a lot of good information out there. For starters, there is a good New York Times article on Amman that I liked. And I’m always a fan of Lonely Planet guide books, though this trip was fairly spontaneous so I didn’t have time to buy my own. Luckily my friend A had one that I could borrow while I was there, and it came in very handy! I’ll probably pick one up when I get home, for whenever I decide to plan a return trip – which I definitely want to do!!
Amman, I thoroughly enjoyed you and I intend to be reunited with you eventually! Until then, good luck with the changes that seem to be headed your way!