I arrived in Amman a few days ago and am slowly learning my way around. I’m a bit travel weary and need to find a comfortable place to rest and wind down – still considering the options. The trip from Luxor was tiring but relatively painless.
Egypt to Jordan
So far, I’ve found Amman a pleasant city. The people are friendly and laidback and not as “edgy” as in Morocco and Egypt. There are wonderful nearby restaurants, with a wide variety of choices. Food in Morocco and Egypt was OK but not my favorite. It’s nice to have variety. Jordanian fresh fruit and vegetables are phenomenal, and there’s even a salon nearby where I can get a hair styling and mani-pedi.
I didn’t do much research on Amman or Jordan, but was eager to depart Egypt. I learned much and was in awe of the archaeological sites, but Egypt and Morocco weren’t my favorite places on this trip. Honestly, I didn’t fully comprehend what I was getting into in these countries – now I do.
My apartment in Amman is near Paris Square, and it has everything you could possibly need. The apartment in Luxor was huge and peaceful but a bit isolated in the countryside. Being near a vibrant city again is a welcome change.
“Amman’s remarkable bowl-shaped center is monochrome as far as the eye can see. A city law requires all houses to be built in the same light color palette, resulting in a beautiful sandy view best seen from the top of the hill at the Citadel.” Reine Gammoh
Jordan is a new country for me, and there are many interesting things to explore and learn. I’ll look into extending my visa. As in Egypt, you get an “extendable” 30-day tourist visa upon arrival at the airport. To extend, you need to take your paperwork to a local police station along with proof of where you’re staying. It’s possible to get up to a five-year, multiple-entry tourist visa for around $150. That’s certainly easier and more reasonable than my now expired five-year visa in South Africa. It cost thousands of dollars and required a full FBI clearance, medical exam, in-person interview at the LA consulate, and formal proof of financial stability.
First impressions of Amman, known as “the city of seven hills,” were that it reminded me of Athens. Everything is on a hill! Known as “the birthplace of several great civilizations,” Amman is “westernized but maintains its Middle Eastern flair, brimming with mouth-watering food and incredibly hospitable people”.
I’m researching Jordan’s Dead Sea area along its eastern border. The area is known for peaceful, rejuvenating spas and historical sites, and is considered “a key Cradle of Civilization“.
Petra and Wadi Rum
Other places of interest include the lost city of Petra and Wadi Rum. Petra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Known as the “rose red city,” Petra is 2000 years old and was “carved out of the Jordanian desert by the nomadic Nabatean tribe“. Petra was hidden for millennia but rediscovered 200 years ago. Founded in the year 312 BC, Petra is over 2300 years old – one of the oldest cities in the world.
Wadi Rum is a UNESCO world heritage site also known as “The Valley of the Moon”. It’s been “depicted as Mars in Hollywood feature films,” and is home to nomadic Bedouin tribes – I’m fascinated by this desert. Wadi Rum might be the perfect place for the desert camping experience I’ve been pondering since Morocco!
“The Bedouins are one of the best-known groups from Jordan’s population. They endure the desert and have learned to survive its unforgiving climate.” Yulia Denisyuk
Jordan Day Trips
There are many interesting day trips from Amman, including:
- As-Salt – city in the Balqa Highlands built on three closely-spaced hills in west-central Jordan, and a new addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list; known as “The Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality“
- Qasr Al-ABD – Hellenistic palace built in 200 BC with impressive stones, ruins, and a carved lion entrance
- Jerash – historical archeological site with well-preserved ancient Roman ruins on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites
- Madaba – ancient Christian town aka the “City of Mosaics” and the “cultural epicenter for Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics,” mentioned in the bible with a 6th century mosaic map of the “Promised Land“. The Madaba Mosaic Map is the “oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land,” and dates back to the 6th century AD.
The Dead Sea is the “lowest spot on the earth’s surface”. Its shores “sit 1,388 feet below sea level”.
For me, the most challenging aspect about Amman will be getting around. There’s limited public transportation. The buses that run on major streets are packed with locals commuting to and from their jobs. Walking is a workout, since no area is without steep hills and / or steps. It’s good exercise, but my first shopping outing to buy essentials – water, coffee, etc., etc. – was educational. I huffed and puffed a bit while walking up the hills carrying heavy groceries back to my apartment. My landlord, Samer, says Uber or taxi is the best way to get to areas that are too far away to walk.
Hydration and Luxor Egypt Accident
I’m taking a few days to recharge, before delving into life in Amman. So far, I’m in awe of the place, and the weather is mild and fantastic, but very dry. Some days there’s a fine dust in the air, so I visited the pharmacy and got some over-the-counter medicine that helps with sneezing and a scratchy throat. You need to constantly hydrate.
Luxor Traffic Directions – Whatever
A few days before my departure from Luxor, I had an accident. :( Traffic along the main drag on Luxor’s west bank is divided by a median. However, sometimes people drive the wrong way, if they want to take a more convenient shortcut or for any other reason – it’s sooooo dangerous. Locals seem to accept this as normal behavior, and say there’s no fine or police enforcement for driving in the wrong direction. I hadn’t noticed this before. When crossing the street, looked one way only (since I THOUGHT traffic was moving in a single direction).
I almost got hit by an Egyptian tuk-tuk barreling along against the traffic, and stumbled backwards to avoid getting pummeled. Apparently, the young driver was taking a shortcut, instead of driving a few blocks to make a U-turn.
It happened fast, and during the fall, I used my left hand to brace myself. Nothing is broken, but it will take at least a few weeks to recover. The swelling has gone down, but it still hurts, and there’s little strength in my left hand. It doesn’t take long to realize the importance of having two working hands! My arm is purple, yellow, and green – nice colors, but… I’m grateful the injury wasn’t more severe. Egypt is a wild and crazy place, especially the Luxor west bank! Another lesson learned – it’s unwise to become complacent or let your guard down in Egypt, or any foreign country. Even a small injury can be consequential when traveling.