AMMAN was not was what I was expecting of the capital city of Jordan.
Given the sensitivities of the region, neighbouring Syria to mention just one, and the media portrayal, I was expecting it to be similar to life in Kuwait City…reserved, traditional and covered up. So you can imagine my shock when I stepped out in the evening to the very popular and lively ‘Al Rainbow Street‘ to see a complete spectrum of clothing, from girls dressed up (down, rather) in more revealing clothing than a normal night out in London to those in veils. Chain-smoking away, singing out loud, dancing to music and generally enjoying a girls’ night out with their friends, there was no sign of female withdrawal in the city. This, of course, is a new generation of females; confident, intelligent and really rather stunnning. I instantly felt uneasy at having packed my more conservative wardrobe for this trip. But next day’s trip to Jerash and the Citadel soon alleviated that.
Jordan seems a very peaceful country. The Jordanians respect other cultures and seem to value tourists and the benefits they bring. Men, however, will be men. And although many tourists do walk around in shorts, I opted for skinny jeans, and still managed to pull several disapproving looks from the locals! I don’t mind now, being quite used to it. The problem seems to be that I have tanned skin. It causes chaos all over the world but particularly the Middle East, South America, Carribean, Asia and India, where they tend to almost claim me as one of their own. I’m only flattered.
Rainbow Street is cool and eclectic. A long amble along it takes in distinct ambience & flavours of Italy, Greece, France and the Middle East with cafe culture; specialty dessert cafe’s, Falafel & Shawarma stands, restaurants, open-air roof terraces, shisha bars, fresh juice stands and live music.
Locals gather on the small squares as, mostly men, play music, cards and hang out. Here, it’s worth shopping around before picking a spot for dinner as you’ll find everything from commercial & touristic, unique & quirky to beautiful & sophisticated. I started at ‘Rotana’ which seemed more of a live music venue with nightclub, buzzing with young Jordanian clubbers. After a bite there I move onto find somewhere special for Sheesha, guided only by my imagination and pre-conceptions of Amman.
More than halfway along Rainbow Street, just as it appears to dwindle, I stumble across ‘Sufra’ peeking out from a row of palm trees, on a street corner.
Led all the way upstairs, I enter a gorgeous roof terrace for drinks and sheesha; a relaxed sophisticated atmosphere, groups of locals socialising, against a backdrop of stunning views right across the city.
I’ve since read their food is great too, so worth checking out.
Friday, is a holiday in many Muslim countries, where it’s the first day of the weekend. Friday being prayer day, also tends to be a day of protests and airing dissatisfaction throughout the Middle East. Here, no major demonstrations. Just one, asking for Government reforms. Friday in Jordan’s capital city Amman is Market day.
It’s all going on downtown in the colourful spectacle that are the ‘Al Balad’ markets. My guide isn’t comfortable letting me wander through saying that if anything should kick off, it would be here. But I get a good peek nonetheless. I see children as young as 5, not browsing the markets but pushing carts full of 2nd hand clothing, working.
People browse on the sides of the streets, rummaging through clothes such as jeans, pots and pans, homeware…everything is here. Deeper in, a separate section for fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a huge market sprawling the entire Downtown main road and narrow side streets and meandering alleyways beyond view.
It’s a real treat for photography lovers.
First stop on the city tour is Amman Citadel or ‘Jebel Al Qela’a’, one of the worlds oldest continuously inhabited places.
From here, panoramic views stretch across the entire city.
It’s a sprawling site atop a hill, home to The Temple of Hercules which is larger than any ever built in Rome.
Home to thre most famous image associated with Amman, the pillars of the Citadel.
Ruins date right back from an incredible 5500BC to 1917AD, including the Temple of Hercules, Roman precinct and Ummayad Palace Complex.
Afterwards, it’s straight to Jerash, founded by Alexander the Great…next post
- Assimilation in Amman (isastudentblog.wordpress.com)
- Protests are increasing in Jordan, but no one wants to dodge bullets (dailystar.com.lb)
- Jon Stewart’s Theater of the Absurd (jadaliyya.com)
- Unrest is growing, but most Jordanians still prefer change from above and not below (timesofisrael.com)
- Jordan charges 4 with trying to enter Syria (cnsnews.com)
- Jordan’s new ambassador to Israel falls victim to regime-tribe clash (timesofisrael.com)
- Jordanians protest anti-Islam film, torch U.S. flags (dailystar.com.lb)
- Sights from Ajloun, Kingdom of Jordan (hadhramouts.blogspot.com)