Stretching my legs in Amman

I had some plans for Jordan, but they were slightly dashed by the fact it wasn’t Friday or the peak of the tourist season. The guy on reception insisted on hearing “Dead Sea” as “taxi” so I gave up and walked around town. I spent about two hours walking around trying to locate a KFC and a tourist agency which would actually take me to the Dead Sea.

The KFC I had actually seen from the taxi the previous night, but nobody I asked knew where it was furthering my suspicion that the driver had been trying to rip me off. A bit daft when I was on a flat fare. It took me about 40 minutes to walk up to where I’d been dropped off by the airport bus the night before and the route I took was nothing like the one he’d managed.

Further uphill past the bus station I found the JETT office. JETT are probably the largest charter bus company in Jordan and offer trips to most of the main touristy destinations. I inquired about Petra (21JD) and the Israeli border (7JD), but was told I couldn’t book a ticket in advance. Instead just to arrive early on the relevant days.

Wandering back to my hotel, I did check more tourist offices but all of them weren’t really helpful. The ever-present RUM Travel with their leaflets and posh office were really poor, seemingly uninterested in providing information. Their huge “daily tours” posters flying in the face of the staff telling me “no tour today”. Or that I could get to the Dead Sea for a bargain 70JD. I’m assuming they were going to flag a taxi down for me.

So, I but the Dead Sea on the back burner as I could always travel there from with Israel later on. I’ll just make sure it doesn’t boil dry as there’s a lot of salt in it.

Plodding around Amman I saw most everything a person could need. Food, convenience stores, tourist agencies with no tours, “qualified dental surgeon”s. I just can’t help but get the feeling that a qualified dental surgeon in Jordan is a man with a small toffee hammer and a very good aim.

In lieu of floating on scarily salt water, I opted to look at the Roman Amphitheater which was literally around the corner from Hotel Sultan. This is a genuinely ancient structure, constructed sometime around 150AD. A lot of reconstructive work has gone on but the vast majority of the stonework is the original. It’s an impressive building, with a small “odeon” next to it.

The Amphitheater can be seen quite clearly from outside its grounds, but for only 1JD you can go inside and clamber all over it, visit two small museums and see the odeon. The ticket’s valid all day so you can pop in and out as you like.

I stopped for lunch at a restaurant nearby and paid a very reasonable 4 JD for several lumps of chicken, some salad, more bread than I could eat and a Coke. I also picked up and wrote my postcards as I ate and fed a raggedy stray cat that was hanging around nearby.

With little else to do, I walked up into the residential areas facing the Amphitheater and was pleasantly surprised by both the view and the plummeting price of drinks and snacks. A load of kids ran around shouting “hello!” and “howareyou!” at me as I took photos and strolled back downhill.

Time to move rooms at my hotel and that was fun as well. Rather than move me to the 4-bed dorm I was meant to be in, the staff offered me a single room which was fine. Until I noticed that it didn’t have a fridge or a TV. According to their literature, all rooms had these. So I ended up in the 4-bed by myself with a cable TV and no fridge. Mind you, it took us 2 hours to get the cable telly working, but I had nothing better to do with my time anyway.

I ordered dinner (more chicken) and sat and read until I fell asleep an hour later. Then they delivered my food. Grr. I roused myself, ate about half a chicken, stowed the bread with the rest I’d bagged up from lunch and went back to sleep on top of the covers with BBC World twittering away in the background.

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