After touring Wadi Rum we overnighted in Aqaba. I’m glad we didn’t stay longer as it’s a thoroughly depressing place completely given over to cruise passenger. Our first impression was a taxi driver trying to overcharge us by triple the reasonable fare. This ride took us to a couple of local restaurants where we were served pitifully badly prepared food. The next day the food wasn’t much better and in the daylight it was obvious the whole place was a shambles.
Even the other tourists were pretty bad. Whilst sat outside a falafel place we watched a number of families across the road throwing their Burger King wrappers only in the general direction of the bin, then wander off along the middle of the road shouting at traffic to get out of their way.
Getting from Wadi Rum to Aqaba to Amman gave us a while to reflect on the driving in Jordan. The speed limit is 110 for cars. We spent most of the time at 140. Cars drive on the right. The outside lane is for slower vehicles and faster vehicles have the right of way. People are very good about pulling out of the way and not hogging the fast lane.
Our first impression of Amman was of fast food restaurants. In some parts of town the gaudy neon burger and pizza joints are three or four to a street. Strangely the more traditional places haven’t followed suit with the brightly coloured frontages, which is good but does admittedly make then harder to find.
After checking into a hotel our driver dropped us off at the Roman ampitheatre. Whilst it’s larger and more ornate than the ampitheatre at Jerash, the patter of the tour guides seems to be exactly the same.
One of the more enjoyable sites in Amman is the Citadel Jabal Al Qala’a. Set on a hill with amazing views across the town the site has been used as a settlement and fortress for the last 7000 years.
A throng of tour guides swarmed toward us on arrival, but to save money pick up a free leaflet from the ticket office which contains a decent map and descriptions.
The site also contains the National Archaeological Museum, which needs a bit of sprucing up and a lot more description on the exhibits. ‘Pottery’ or ‘Coin’ is not a helpful label.
Final thoughts from Jordan
As much as I enjoyed this trip i can’t help but feel we did it all wrong. Due to a lack of time and effort we booked a car and driver and let him take care of all the details. This made life simple, but as a result we barely interacted withanyone. We saw everything we wanted to see and more, but whisked from site to site, even at a leisurely pace, there were no mishaps, no setbacks, no sitting with new friends and as a result no real stories when we got home.
For our next trips to Iran, Russia and Iceland I’m going to go back to the independent planning approach – it’s harder but ultimately much more rewarding.