Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jordan Diaries: Arriving in Amman and the embassy suburb

Now back in the Netherlands, and with all my fotos uploaded to my laptop, I can now begin my Jordan travel diaries. You might have noticed [grin] that I love chronicling my travels and this is mainly because the act of writing what I have experienced is akin to re-experiencing the experience. Like déjà vu. Besides, it somehow seals the whole experience for years to come, for me to come back to and live through them again. This is hoping that Google, the owner of Blogger and Youtube, and Multiply (this did and I have to re-upload the pictures to my Google storage) as well will not go into administration and I can turn back the clock and look at my blog entries and fotos with a smile and a hint of familiarity—oh yeah, I have done that, I was there.

Arrival at Queen Alia Airport + Pre-entry Visa

So I will start with our arrival in Amman. We landed just before 18:00 in Queen Alia International Airport. Dutch nationals are not required to have a pre-entry visa but Jordanian immigration authorities requires a visa for most foreign nationals entering which can be bought without hassles at the port of entry. We went straight to the visa section to buy our visas which is 10 JOD (1 JOD is 0.95 EUR). There is a money exchange kiosk and I believe an ATM just before the visa booth, so that is handy if you do not have Jordanian Dinars because they do not accept any other currency nor credit card payments.

Stunning tail, the crown logo makes everything for that grandeur royal look.

Plane views just before landing.

I am quite loyal to KLM but there are instances when I have to fly a different airline out of convenience. KLM does not have a direct flight from Amsterdam to Amman. Royal Jordanian airline is the only airline that flies direct. Their planes look very pretty from the outside although I can tell they are a bit old already. Food was nothing to rave about. I must say that service was SUPERB. Lovely RJ cabin personnel.

Very colourful Jordanian Dinars.

Taxi drive: Airport to Amman

18:15 and we are in the taxi to the direction of Amman. The drive to the capital is going to be about half an hour. Cabbie driving skills was OK, nothing near a rollercoaster ride.

The taxi drive from Queen Alia International Airport to Amman Centre -- about half an hour, costs 19 JOD.

Passing through Abdoun Bridge.

Our hotel in the embassy suburb of Amman

We arrived at our hotel—Hisham Hotel, a local Arabic owned hotel located at the back of the French Embassy in the 3rd circle. We arrived just before sunset so we had a good look at the surroundings.

Military security personnel in the posh neighbourhood of our hotel.

The area is somewhat an upscale hub of Amman where a lot of embassies and high-profile people are living. Security in military fatigue authoritarian uniforms with high powered rifles guarding entrances of many buildings and properties proliferate the neighbourhood. They are in every corner. We even saw a military jeep with a high-powered machine gun launched on top of the vehicle ready for action. For a moment there Blondine and I felt we are in the smack of war zone Middle East! lol

However, I think our location is the safest part of Amman, what with all these severe security patrolling and guarding the area.

Here is our hotel room:

Our hotel room was quite big, with wide floor to ceiling mirrors (we love this of course), with free internet, and it even has a Louis Vuitton trash can in the toilet, haha. Beside Hisham Hotel is the oldest bar, they say, in Amman. We checked it out quickly (forgot to take a foto) before retiring to bed early.

The view from our balcony: Amman.

A little stroll along Al Rainbow Street

Anyway, after checking in to our hotel, we asked the hotel manager if he has recommendations for a great restaurant. We want the best traditional Jordanian restaurant in town for dinner that night. He called up his first choice (forgot the name of the restaurant) but it was fully booked. Argh, happens all the time with the best restaurant huh. He gave us another alternative but we decided to just do our own thing and went to Al Rainbow Street in the 1st circle instead to see what night life in Jordan, a Muslim country, is like.

The taxi (rate is 1.5 JOD to 2 JOD max within Amman, do not pay more!) brought us to Al Rainbow Street in 5 minutes and we walked the whole stretch filled with commercial shops, Arabic fast foods and café restaurants offering non-alcoholic drinks and the famous hubbly bubbly—Shisha or Hookah or in plain English, waterpipe. Some restaurants do offer beer so for those who cannot disentangle night life and alcohol there is light at the end of the tunnel here.

Wandering along Al Rainbow Street we came across this Arabic fast food place making Falafels (fried chickpea balls). They are good but not really my favourite.

I guess this is the best place to go in the evening if one has to experience the local Amman, Jordan night life otherwise popular venues with similar or much better offerings would be the modern international hotels but it won’t be quite near to going local.

We had dinner in Old Times Restaurant and then people watched for the rest of the evening really. When we had our fill of the Tahini Kufta and had coffee, we took a cab back to the hotel and pretty much tucked ourselves in early to get ready for our next adventure day in Amman.

More of our Amman diaries next...

Travel Period: April 2011
Destination: Amman, Jordan

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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