After two days in Petra, living in a home base of Wadi Musa, Jordan, I was all aglow with the world wonder magic from this amazing experience. Heading to Amman, I packed up packs at the hotel. Like a turtle, I moved slowly to the bus station, about a block and one impossible hill away from the Orient Gate Hotel.
I saw guys in suits and confirmed with them that they were waiting for the bus to Amman (pronounced Ammen, not A-maan). They said, it will be 1/2 hour, 1 hour, take a rest. I did and watched more and more men congregate in the “waiting area” of the bus parking lot. There were no women, but I was left alone. On a side note, I have found the men much more polite and respectful of women than those in Egypt.
The group started to pack together as the time for the bus drew near. I joined them, with packs on arms and in anticipation There was no way the 30 odd people waiting were going to fit onto the maybe 20-seater microbus. The bus rounded the corner and the group followed its progress. Luckily, I had stayed where I was and was close to the door when it stopped. Everyone lunged for the doors, dudes were pushing themselves through the back windows to get a seat. No one had departed the bus.
Get on Da Bus
The bus driver came out the doors and started shouting at everyone, a few women and children and a very warm-looking Westerner got off the bus. The crowd pushed closer at each departing passenger so that an old woman had to push her way out. I lunged with the group and saw an empty seat behind the driver. A guy was sitting on one side and had two small bags on the seat. He motioned that he was saving the seat. I said, “uh-uh” and picked up his bags and tossed them onto his lap and sat down.
Politeness was for the next bus.
I was in. We switched seats, I arranged my packs and slowly the bus settled to order, not in that order. About half the people got on, there was no crazy packing in or people on the roof like India. In fact, the bus driver rearranged people so a Jordanian woman could have a seat to herself.
The only awkwardness was a guy sitting on another’s lap, but in a country where the standard male to male greeting is three kisses on the cheek in quick succession, it wasn’t really that awkward.
Finally – Aaman! Now for That Hotel…
We arrived in Amman at four and I took a taxi to the Cliff hotel. The Rough Guide had said it was a popular backpacker place, but in reality there was a middle-aged Russian man talking to himself in the lobby and three very friendly hotel staff. I had called and asked if they had a single room with bathroom. Fahroud the manager showed me a very basic room without my bathroom, but he would write a sign on the door of the WC that only I could use it. The toilet did not have a seat. Showers were shared. The long hallway with rooms looked like dingy hospital corridor. It was fine for now and the friendliness of the staff won me over.
Hotel Not So Good, But Dinner Made Up For It
I went to Al-Quds (or Jerusalem’s) for dinner. The menu was in Arabic, but the waiter done me right by directing me to a 1/2 chicken with rice, fresh bread and olives. Delicious! I washed it down with sweet mint tea. I walked back to my hotel and saw Ean and Liz coming out of my hotel! We traded emails earlier – they were still in Amman and were just leaving a note at my hotel. I joined them for tea at their hotel – the Hotel Palace and immediately felt a better vibe at this place. They were going on a tour to the Dead Sea, Madaba, and Mount Nebo the next day and I signed up for the 14JD – all the places I wanted to see from Amman. In the morning I was going to come to the hotel to get a room.
What’s Amman Like? Nice, You Know, Nice
Amman is a nice city, quiet, clean and spreadout, buildings of white stone hugging the hills of the city. The roads are creatively wound around the hills and traffic is only noticeable in the absence of constant honking and noise. The people are spaced out, it’s not pushing crowded. The women are veiled and unveiled and they are on the street, unlike Cairo. From what I’ve seen, it’s nice, progressive, organized well. There’s no seediness that I’ve seen in the downtown area. It does lack the energy of Cairo.
Liz put it well, “You have to make your good time in Amman, it’s not like Cairo where it comes to you.”