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Published: October 14th 2011
Over the last few months i’ve begun to realise that I don’t want to continue backpacking, on my own, with my trusty (but rather old and smelly) rucksack, in the cheapest way possible! With that in mind I changed the trip i’d arranged for Jordan, Dubai, SrI Lanka and then onwards to Thailand and Indonesia; to a simple two and a half week holiday to Jordan and Dubai. I also took a suitcase. A major step for me! An actual suitcase; One that could be wheeled around, rather than worn on my back. I also booked – in advance – the hotel where I was going to spend my first night... this was, indeed, a big change.
And here I am; In Jordan; In the capital city of Amman. And whilst I am on my own and whilst i have fallen straight back into the routine of travelling (chatting happily to all and sundry, site seeing, eating in cheap local cafes) I have got a suitcase. One that I can wheel about! And I have only got two and a half weeks... and that makes all the difference!
A friend who I met in Thailand (and then sailed with in Malaysia
for those who read my blogs) recommended I stay at the Abassi Palace Hotel in Amman.. and what a recommendation. This place is amazing. In a way, it almost makes me wish I was still backpacking! It is cheap, full of travellers, right in the middle of the old town and the staff are welcoming and friendly.
I woke this morning and was given a little metal tray with a boiled egg, a banana, a triangle of soft cheese, jam, butter, flat bread and two little round falafals, and a mug of tea with a sprig of mint in it. I knew then that i’d like it here!
I decided to head off to do some proper site seeing and with that in mind I left the hostel (via the very dodgy lift) and headed off to see the Roman Amphitheatre. As I arrived a very old, toothless man wearing a “Petra Jordan” floppy hat sidled up to me and in very broken English asked if I wanted a guide. Now usually I say no (especially when their grasp of English was clearly going to be more of a hindrance than a help), but I decided that after Angkor
Wat (where I didn’t take a guide, and kind of regretted it) I thought I would. So once the price had been agreed and he’d proudly showed me his ‘tour guide’ official looking badge, he beckoned me to follow him. Now he was a very sweet looking old man, who I was glad to hand over 5 jordanian dinars to (about £4.50) however as far as guiding went .. well put it this way, he made me smile (and that’s the most important thing) but my knowledge of the theatre is not a lot greater now than before I went!). He told me about 100 times that old Amman (pointing to some ruins on a hill) used to be called Philadelphia – actually he mentioned that about ten times during the hour we were together. He pointed at a lot of things and said either “Roman” or “Photo”. And if I didn’t respond (or didn’t respond enough) he’d just keep pointing and repeating the single word looking at me, as I desperately tried not to laugh at the same time as thinking of a reasonable response that would stop him from repeating it again! So with the amphitheatre photographed and
walked around I declined the offer from my guide to show me the citadel and headed up there myself.
I’m not quite sure how I managed to scale up the rubbly hill without finding the proper path that I was looking for, all I do know is that when I finally reached the top and clambered up onto the proper path I had essentially broken into the citadel because i’d totally (and unintentionally) bypassed the entrance .. and the entrance fee – I only realised this when I tried to get into the museum and they asked to see my ticket.. after some quick thinking I told them my boyfriend had it and I wandered off hoping that I wouldn’t get shouted at (or worse?) for breaking into the holy citadel! I decided the museum could be missed. I really and honestly hadn’t even meant to not pay; I didn’t realise i’d bypassed the entrance and it’s fee.. it was only 2 dinars .. I just didn’t know how I could explain how i’d got in without going through the barrier!!
After that I walked over to Rainbow Street (an old street with lots of cafes) and wandered down Souk
street – a very touristy back road full of little stalls selling over priced westernised trinkets. I had a delicious lunch of a hand thrown pastry thing filled with hallumi, olives, tomatoes and mint. Yum.
I also walked past the Mosque but I didn’t linger as it was surrounded by a lot of moustachioed men who leered at me and made me feel a little uneasy (I was wearing a long sleeve t-shit and my alibaba trousers so totally covered. And was slightly perturbed when two ngo workers i met and chatted to, told me to “be careful” as we parted company?!!). I suppose for these men to see a women out on her own is unusual. It’s just that I realise how unsafe it makes me feel - for some reason more so here than in Asia.. Not sure why that is.
Back at the hostel I got chatting to a girl and arranged to go out with her for supper , although in the end I decided to head out on my own to eat at the famous Al Hushan Restaurant.. amazing falafel and hummus (less amazing bean thing) The owner came over to tell me that the
The ruins at the Citadel .. they decided it must be a temple for Hercules because they found the remains of a gigantic figure (just the hand and part of shoulder) so deduced that it must have been erected for Hercules. (I thought that was quite a leap? .. but hey ho)
king has eaten there (plastic tables in a bare room overflowing onto the back alley) and that it is famous.. and whilst I couldn’t imagine a King eating there it definitely had a charm.. and the best falafel and hummus i’ve probably ever had!!
So. A good day. And tomorrow I head off to Aqaba. And the sea... which means diving - yay. Can’t wait. I have by hotel booked by diving organised and even a bus organised. And of course my bag.. with wheels. Brilliant!!
Oh.. and if you’re wondering why i’m writing already having only been gone 24hours it’s because i’ve had two cups of tea after 5 years of no caffeine and the idea of sleeping is far from my mind, despite my 5am wake-up call tomorrow!!
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