Bloody Buses! Petra and Amman

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Middle East » Jordan » North » Amman
October 21st 2018
Published: November 13th 2018
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So, back on the bus it was. You know, that once a day bus from Petra back to Amman? Well, there's certainly enough business to run a more frequent service because as well as those of us with booked seats and tickets there was a significant number of other people who were on 'standby', ready to fill any empty seats. What a scrum! And, yes, I do realise that queuing is not a concept that is understood or adopted everywhere but I do think the concept of fair play is, or should be. As soon as I realised that those on standby were just pushing to the front and sitting in any vacant seat, despite a chappie on the bus trying to get everyone into their rightful place, I stuck out every protruding bone I had (elbows, knees, ankles, wrists, etc) to try to block anyone getting in front of me. Steve said I looked like a force to be reckoned with, if somewhat disjointed, and a brief few words with an arrogant standby man eventually got me on the bus in front of him. It did little good, however, because someone was already sitting in our seats and they had to be reluctantly removed from them by the bus chappie. Sorry n'all that, but we have a plane to catch tomorrow and it's this bus or miss the flight!

Finally, finally, all the seats on the bus were filled and I thought we were set for off but nope. A rather large family group of about 10 were left behind and someone, God knows who but they should be shot, decided to turf off 10 of the standby people already seated to accommodate the family group instead. FFS! Just get some bums on the seats and let's go. Dare I say I was pleased to see Mr Arrogant left behind but I did feel sorry for the young, female backpacker and wondered where she would spend the night .

The 4 hour journey back to Amman was done on a cold bus, mainly in the dark. We stopped at a caravanserai about half way through and that was a welcome break and an opportunity to get warm. We finally made it back to Amman at about 9 pm but the bus pulled in to the rear of the JETT office and it wasn't immediately clear where we were. Once we got our bearings, however, it was literally a two minute walk back to the 7boys. Even a persistent taxi driver gave up the hassle when he heard how close we were! It seemed as though the 3x7 boys had multiplied in our absence because a significant number were waiting for us on our return. Unfortunately, they were so busy waiting to greet us that they needed another 10 mins 'to fully prepare the room'! We were in an upgraded version of more-or-less the same room as before but one floor higher (401) and I think the extra prep time was needed to turn on the mood lighting which made me feel I'd stepped into a bordello when the lift door opened onto a flame red landing lit with purple lamps . Welcome back!

On our last day in Amman, after our trip to Petra, we planned to take the red bus city sight-seeing tour. Mr-Middle-Generation-7boy had enquired about timings on our behalf the night before, to be told they only ran at 7 am and 8 pm. A sight-seeing tour in the dark, then? Really? What is it with the buses? We had a leaflet which indicated the trip ran at 2 pm but gave no indication of how long it took and, as we needed to head to the airport about 6 pm to catch a flight, that was a bit of a problem. I chatted with one of the Brides of the Seven Brothers over breakfast that morning (she repeatedly said her name was Slam and even spelled it for me so I guess she'll know) and she thought the trip may not run at all, given it was Sunday. We decided to risk it anyway and arranged for the hotel car to drop us at the pick-up point and we would return with him if it wasn't running, or would ring them to send the car to pick us up when it had finished, if it ran. She had the bright idea of the driver bringing our luggage with him when he collected us, to save us returning to the hotel if time was running short. Good-o.

As it turned out, the trip did run, it was scheduled to leave at 2 pm and it should last about two hours. Perfect. There were very few others on it which wasn't surprising, given all the misinformation we, and presumably others, had been given. It wasn't really a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus in the expected sense in that it didn't really stop much for you to hop off then hop back on again later. I guess it was more a city sightseeing tour on a big red bus, which was sufficiently novel for the locals to stop and stare. One lady driver tooted at us so much in the next lane, trying to catch our attention to wave to her young children hanging out of her passenger window that she almost crashed into us!

In no particular order we saw Rainbow Street, the King Hussein mosque, the Jordan Museum, the Boulevard and City Mall (again), Parliament, Downtown, the huge USA embassy replete with tanks, and the Roman Theatre. We stopped for half an hour at The Citadel where we were able to explore the ruins and look out over Amman for miles in every direction. A positively HUGE Jordanian flag fluttered on the skyline and was a wonderful sight. As we soaked up the view and the atmosphere in this amazing peaceful setting the Call to Prayer began to sound in the city below, first in one place, then in another, growing and spreading like a round robin around and up the geographical bowl in which Amman sits. It is impossible to describe how magical it was - it gave me goosebumps.

At the end of the tour we were dropped back at the pick-up point. We were approached by touting taxi drivers, as usual, but we declined them all having made arrangements to phone the hotel when we were ready for collection. It wasn't until the words of one particularly persistent driver sank in that we realised that the hotel had pre-empted our return time and had sent their driver 'fro sev boyz/for sen boise/fom sivn bos' to pick us up. So, we were once again on the road back to the airport.


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