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Published: January 19th 2012
After a fairly uneventful flight, where the only hitch was a 2 hour delay in Heathrow I landed in Amman at about 9 p.m. I queued up for a Visa, which took over half an hour, got my bag and found the airport express bus to take me into the City Centre.
On the bus a guy from the UAE asked me where I was from and when I said Ireland, he asked if I knew the word "saoirse" Irish for freedom! He wouldnt tell me how he knew this, but it was a bit strange being grilled on my Gaeilge having just landed in the Middle East.
There was also an Indoneisian girl on the bus who was staying in the same hotel as me. We got a taxi together to the Farah Hotel, but our taxi driver told us it was going to be 25 JD. We both knew that this was a rip off. Luckily, the Indonesian girl had some Arabic and started arguing with the driver. He then turned around and said he could see she was a Muslim and didnt want to rip off a fellow Muslim. I kept my mouth shut. We arrived
at the hotle and told us to pay what we felt we should pay, so gave him 5 JD each, which was still over what it should be.
The hotel was very quiet and I sat in the common room watching Barcelona v Espanyol. I was soon joined by a Ducth guy who was just back from Syria, but was planning on going back, this time with a bulletproof vest and his camera. He told me I was welcome to join him, I politley declined. In my dorm I met Albert from Barcelona, who had also arrived that evening. We decided we would go to Jerash the following day.
Having been woken up at around 5 a.m. by the early mornign prayer I got up, showered and had breakfast at 7.30. Myself and Albert took a taxi to the bus station and then got on the bus to Jerash. Driving around Amman, you would be forgiven for thinking it is a European city in parts, except for the Arabic script. But on the bus to Jerash, we were reminded we were in the Middle East, when Albert had to change seats so that a woman did not have
to sit beside a man who wasn't her husband.
The Jerash ruins were very impressive and well preserved. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the site, which is a few kilometres. We then had lunch at a restaurant near the site and agreed with a taxi driver who said he would take us to Aljoun Castle, wait 30 minutes for us, then take us back. En route, he said he had to stop at his house and he drove us through his village. As we drove through this and other villages, it became very rural, with kids driving a horse with an old style plough on the back. Aljoun castle was also fairly impressive and the views from the top were incredible.
On arrival back in Amman, we went to Hashem restaurant, a place King Abdullah has frequented, for some falaffel and hummous. It cost about 2 JD each. We also went for some shisha and tea in a local cafe. Every single customer was a man, there wasn't even a ladies toilet. But it was a great atmosphere and we were made feel extremely welcome.
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