Amman: worth a try, isn't it?
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Nov 26, 2012 5:47 PM Last Post By: davidfromOz
Nov 15, 2012 7:50 AM
Amman: worth a try, isn't it?Hello.
First and foremost, let me begin by writing that I am starting this thread having done no research whatsoever yet, even if I have browsed through the TT a bit; there is a great thread comparing Amman and Beirut and how they fare in terms of facilities for the disabled, for instance; and another Amman-bashing thread by some guy who fits into the ignorant Westerner stereotype.
So, Jordan is currently the likeliest destination for the upcoming annual trip with my friends. It is one of the few countries in the Middle East I haven't been to yet, and even if I was a bit reluctant at first, I am growing increasingly seduced by the idea of visiting the country.
In a nutshell, problem is my friends, who are still a bit prejudiced about the whole ME, want to skip Amman altogether and head straight to Petra/Jerusalem/wherever (no itinerary yet), since they claim to hate Arab cities even if two of them haven't set foot in any of them. The thing is that I am having a hard time trying to convince them otherwise because most of the people around who have visited Jordan keep telling me that Amman sucks, or that it has no redeeming features whatsoever. And there are quite a few threads here that center around Petra, Jerash, Wadi Rum or the Dead and Red Seas, as if Amman didn't exist or was solely to be used as an entry or exit point.
I still want to spend at least a full day exploring the city, but I would appreciate some feedback or first-hand info in order to be able to "sell" it to my travelling companions. Bear in mind that I love Arab/Muslim cities for the most part: I adored Damascus (sniff), I had a sensational time in Beirut and found it to be extremely interesting, I liked the Moroccan cities (even Casablanca), Dubai, you name it; hell, I even found Tehran to be more pleasant than most people claim it to be, or really enjoyed Ramallah as a day-trip from Jerusalem!
So, any info on Amman will be greatly appreciated.
Nov 15, 2012 9:20 AM
1A couple points.
First, trying to change the mind of people who have already made up their minds is very difficult. It's also not required. There is an easy solution (or two easy solutions).
The first takes into account your stated schedule. You mentioned you want to spend a day exploring Amman. That's great. There's plenty of fun things to see and do in Amman for a day (or longer, but we'll stick to a day). Can't your friends, in the interest of compromise, hang with you for one day as you explore Amman?
The second option is for them to do a day trip somewhere you have less interest in for the day while you explore Amman. Maybe they can do a day trip to Umm Qais.
As for your other point. You may love Amman and for many folks it has great appeal, but it is no where near as interesting as Damascus or Jerusalem (or even Beirut). I'm definitely not an Amman basher, but it's not one of my favorite cities. I prefer to base in Madaba.
At any rate, if your friends won't compromise with you and spend one day out of a whole trip so you can explore Amman, you need new travel partners.
Nov 15, 2012 12:27 PM
2Yes it is.
However, like Lake says, it might be a bit of a hard sell to your friends they've already made up their minds. Might indeed be best to send them to Jerash or Umm Qais if you really can't convince them.
You've obviously been around the ME a fair bit. Amman is perhaps comparable to a much bigger version of a mid-sized Levantine city like Ramallah, Tartous, Sidon, Hama or Homs (poor Homs...) in that it might not be the most photogenic of cities, but has a few interesting archaelogical/historical sites, some good museums, lots of great cafes and restaurants, a lively market, and very, very friendly people. It's also a great place to get to know Jordan and its people, as it's where most Jordanians live, and (for me at least) travelling should not be solely about visting picture-perfect tourist sites.
If I only had a day there, I'd do something like this. Start Downtown, then:
-Visit the market
-Check out the Roman ampitheatre
-Climb up the hill to the Citadel. All the people in that little neigbourhood en route are very friendly; don't be surprised if you're stopped for a chat. Check out the Citadel and the great little museum within it
-Head back Downtown and then clamber up the zillion very steep stairs to Jebel Amman
-Perhaps stop at Books@Cafe for a beer on their great little rooftop terrace
-Head to the Second Circle for a shawarma at Reem
-Grab a taxi or walk on foot to one of the shopping areas (perhaps Abdoun or Shmeisani) in the western suburbs. The west of Amman is totally different to Downtown and the east, so it's worth checking out the two sides of the city to see how more affluent Jordanians live
-Head back to Jebel Amman and spend the evening at the cafes/bars/restaurants of Rainbow Street. Rainbow Street has a bit of a 'Beirut' vibe about it, and is great for a night out
As for your friends, if they've got prejudices about the ME, Downtown Amman might confirm them; Jebel Amman and the western suburbs might actually surprise them.
Nov 15, 2012 10:33 PM
You have heard good advice from forum veterans above
Here is a little bit more information to help you enjoy visiting Amman
At the Tourist Office in downtown next to entrance of Roman Theatre you can get a map of downtown Amman that shows every place of interest in the area and how to find it.It is all within walking distance no need to take a taxi.
Here is a list of places of all attractions in downtown Amman
Tourist guide to Amman down town and vicinity
. Souq & shops open till late.
Eating houses popular with tourists at budget prices and safe to eat at.
1. Pizza Roma Café ,Italian cuisine and Arabic food comlimented by a nightly show of Traditional local group dance the Dabke.
3. Bottle& liquor shop take away beer and spirits in Shabsog st opposite car park
4. Multi Story car park if you are driving
6. Habiba Dessert and sweet in King Faisal square.
7. Old Duke House ,
8. Alkuds Arabic sweets
9. Hashim Restaurant, Fool homos falafel and dips in King Faisal square open long hours where kings and queens eat breakfast
10. Fuad Falafel King Faisal street,
11. Craving Fruit Juice in King Faisal sq.
12. Sara Fish and Seafood, best sea food in town King Faisal square.
13. Gold jewelry souq Market.
14. Souq Mango
14A. Magician street vendor,
15. Souq Bukharia Alhashimi street
16. Alhusseine Mosque down town Amman,
17. Roman Bath Nymphaeum,
18. Poet House
19.Roman theatre and Folkloric Museum
20. A- ATMs Machines a dozen atm near the Mosque
21. RAINBOW STREET, Jabel Amman is worth a visit for trendy cafes and Nargilas strip
22. Friday JARA weekend market (summer time only) in Rainbow Street well worth visit for arts and crafts. Food and drink stalls
23. Dar El- Fonoon in Jabel Al-Waibdeh art gallery among the Roman Ruins
• Amman Citadel & Archeological Museum walk up hill nearly 1km till you come to entrance, best to take a taxi and walk down
• Pigeon market and falcons Koraish street
• Op-Shops (if you must buy some clothing)Huge range of quality second hand clothing, good brands available Downtown
• Royal Palaces in Hashemi St First Royal Palce in Amman and still in use.
• King Abdullah Mosque
.Shawerma Reems at second circle.
These following places are outside the downtown area and need a taxi to get to.
• King Abdullah Mosque Alabdali, جامع الملك عبدالله
• Royal automobile Museum At King Hussein Park نادي السيارات الملكي
• Children’s Museum At King Hussein Park
• Royal cultural Centre shmesani المركز الثقافي الملكي-الشميساني
• Abu Darwish mosque Ashrafie الاشرفية جامع ابو درويش
• Museum At Jordan University Aljbeha
King Hussein Gardens
Ahal elkahef(Cave ofSeven Sleepers) at Abu Alanda.
Assalt some 15 km west of Amman this town is being developed carefully and tastefully
by a Japan international cooperation agency JICA is well worth a visit
Nov 16, 2012 3:17 AM
4liilak - perhaps your friends should watch the popular TV show "idiot abroad" which depicts the stupid narrow minded and ignorant small town english man!! It depicts the crass pre-conceived prejudiced ideas they have about certain countries. You can watch it on You Tube. If they care about their image or dignity, they would straighten themselves out and try to be far from that general image - lol!
Actually, I hear all these put downs of Amman many towns, even from people who don't know it and have in some cases never ever been there.
Comments like don't like Arab cities,,, what does that mean exactly..? Could you give me a clue there - what is it they don't like, please be specific.
I mean compared to where you come from, and we don't know where that is - but let's assume for the purpose of this exercise its somewhere like Stoke or Preston or God Forbid - Norwich ... :) Now, I'm not knocking those places and I'm sure if one digs deep (very deep) there are some things of interest, maybe, probably.. who knows.. but anyway what does your town have that Amman doesn't have,, or what is it you want it to have ?
Some English people make me laugh they go to Spain and want fish and chips, and a rovers return - they don't explore and appreciate the differences in places, cultures, traditions either historical or present day, they just expect everyone to speak english and lie on the beach with a pint of Boddingtons!
If your friends are so prejudiced, why do you want to convince them? Just leave them, go yourself, you will find lots of solo travelers to hook up with.. Let them go yet again to Ibiza or wherever..
Moving on from this point - it would be more interesting if people who complain about Amman can be more specific and detail what it is that Amman lacks compared to say Damascus, Beirut, - what exactly do those cities have that Amman doesn't?? Whilst we are all entitled to our own opinion - Madaba in no way can be compared to Amman.
- and I'm not referring to you Laketraveller - but many others who have slagged Amman and promoted Madaba.
Yes, Amman is noisy, dusty, ramshackle in many parts of the Downtown, but then that's what makes it different and interesting, its culturally opposite and has many rich and vibrant traditions. Its scruffy, people talk a lot and even shout, cars pip their horn, there are calls to prayer 5 times a day,, this is their way of life and they are happy with it. If you don't like sitting in a small street cafe and chatting with the owner or other folks who are happy to see you and are actually interested in who you are,, sample the local food at cheap prices, have a cheap shave and haircut and feel a million dollars when you leave the barbers shop, drink some sugarcane juice and generally wonder around the dusty, crowded and traffic chaotic area - then better to skip it and go to Paris or Rome, where most shops and cafes won't give you the time of day even after paying phenominal prices.
We love Amman and we want others to experience the warmth and friendliness of its people, especially Downtown.
Please folks let us settle this matter once and for all and submit your post as to why (X) city is better than Amman.
PS - we have a Rovers Return if that helps !
Edited by: Mesha
Edited by: Mesha
Nov 16, 2012 7:40 AM
5Well, thank you so much for your AWESOME replies, I follow your posts on this board and I know you are a great source of information. Much appreciated.
#1, LOL, well, you're probably right but I love my friends even though I am usually the one to compromise. In fact, I preferred Oman as this year's destination but I'm afraid it's going to be Jordan. Democracy sucks sometimes ;-) Anyway I still have my wife to make the "weird" (so say my friends) travels, thankfully. Like you write, if I promise them it's going to be just one day maybe they're happy to oblige.
#2, thank you, thank you for your suggestions. Interesting you mention Ramallah too, since judging from the pictures on the web I've imagined Amman as some sort of giant Ramallah, or even as an "Athens with an Arab twist" (how stupid is that? I like Athens, though). Now that you mention Sidon, that can also fit into the preconceptions I have about Jordan.
Funnily enough, one of the friends I will be travelling with visited Ramallah with me and he's described it as "lots of fun".
By the way, can you reach the western suburbs on foot from downtown? I am yet to study the place.
#3 Thank you, that list is very useful, as I imagined there are loads of things to keep you busy in Amman.
#4, funny you mention Spain, since that is where we come from ;-) Or I should say, that is the nationality laid down on our passports but that's another story (we're Basque). Actually, the dislike towards Arab cities is manifested by the ones who haven't set foot in any of them, with the exception of Cairo in the case of one of them, it's just a matter of prejudice, and those are hard to set aside.
Other than that, they are frequent travellers, but they mostly stick to Europe, the US and Canada, with some incursions into the more user-friendly parts of Asia and South America.
Thank you again for your help. Don't know about my friends but I have definitely become more curious about Amman so I can't wait to start planning our visit, should we finally make it to Jordan.
Edited by: liilak
Nov 16, 2012 9:53 AM
Not stupid at all. Athens is actually an extremely good comparison; I've always considered it to have heaps more in common with Levantine cities than with European ones. Most Greeks get very upset if you compare them to Arabs, but I've known a couple of the years who freely admit that Greek food, music, habits and customs are actually not that much different to the Levant. So yeah, think along the lines of Ramallah and Athens.
Sidon I meant more the outskirts of it where it hasn't quite hit the old town, ie in the areas where you have the odd old building mixed in with lots of concrete tower blocks.
You can reach what counts as the inner western suburbs (Jebel Amman and the area between the first and third circles) on foot pretty easily if you don't mind a bit of walking; if you were heading out any further than that (Abdoun or wherever) I'd jump in a cab. They're plentiful and cheap.
Nov 16, 2012 7:31 PM
7When people say they don't care for a certain place it makes me want to go there. Personally, I'm looking forward to visiting Amman for the first time next May. I prefer places that are real as opposed to manufactured. But hey, that's just me. :)
Nov 18, 2012 10:43 PM
8Amman definitely worth a day at least. See the roman arena, go to the top of the citadel, And after that walk around different areas.
Besides you can do day triips to Um Qais and Jerash from Amman, both good old sights, if you guys like that sort of thing.
And depending on how much time you have in Jordan, you'll have the time for a day or two in Amman.
Nov 21, 2012 11:07 AM
9I have just come back from 10 days in Jordan, including a visit to Amman. We spent a full day exploring the city, and that was enough for us. We also took a day trip out of the city to the Dead sea and Madaba, and had we had more time we would have stayed and taken another to Jerash.
If you are looking for a good budget place to stay I can recommend Cliff Hotel (it's in the LP guide), where we paid 20 JD for a quadruple room (Ithink the doubles are 12 and the triples 15). It's just opposite Hashem Restaurant which does the best hummus and falafel and is a great place to have breakfast. The staff are very friendly and helpful and can arrange day trip at a reasonable price. There's free wifi.
There is also a great eatery on one of the side streets parallel to the one with Cliff Hotel - it's the one with the entrance to Amman Cinema and it's a dead-end. They have delicious and cheap grilled skewers and "Turkish Pizza", which is ground lamb and spices between to pieces of flat bread and then grilled. It's always packed out with locals - usually a good sign.
I agree with the previous post on climbing up to the citadel through that nice little neighbourhood. We enjoyed that.
Nov 24, 2012 5:02 PM
10Amman was the first large middle-eastern (dare I say "Arab") city I ever visited. Such was part of a three-week private tour of Jordan where I requested three full, free days in Amman in addition to one full day with the driver/guide.
We stayed outside the "4th ring" in the western suburbs which I found utterly unexciting. Modern with hideous vehicular traffic, shopping malls, etc. Our free days were spent taking a taxi to the "2nd ring" and walking our way into the "1st ring" where we enjoyed very good meals, exceptional "people watching", nice shopping, good shaves at barbers, and extraordinarily friendly people.
Yes, the city is drab, dusty and noisy. Inside the 2nd ring it is also very densely developed and populated. While occasionally decrepit it is nothing like an "old" U.S. city in that no matter where you wonder there is no need for excessive concern regarding personal safety.
While I suspect you would enjoy Amman I also suspect that your friends would not.
Nov 26, 2012 5:47 PM
11Lots of great advice from people who really know Amman. I've only been there twice and yes, the descriptions are as I found the city too.
I quite liked Amman and would definitely recommend a day or two there, it's all part of experiencing a country. Someone mentioned that Jordanians are friendly, we found them to be exceptionally so, and in Amman we were given free cakes on more than one occassion in different bakeries...delicious!! Wouldn't mind going back again tomorrow.
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(4 star Hotel)
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