I flew from Dubai to Amman.  It was easy to take the shuttle bus from the airport to the bus station.  Once there I began my endless fight with Jordanian taxi drivers.  Even the locals call them “mafia”.  Dubai was all big and shiny – Amman is all box-shaped sand-coloured buildings.  I stayed at a hotel one block from the Roman Theatre.  I think the hotel was built about the same time, but it was clean and the staff were pleasant, so I was fine.

I spent a couple of days just walking around the little streets and enjoying the souks. Amman has some pretty steep hills so walking was usually a workout.  I felt very safe.  As the sun goes down and the temperatures cool off, the city heats up.  Vendors pile their products everywhere and the pressure to “Come and look” increases.  I went to a huge fruit and veggie market.  Some vendors had loudspeakers announcing what they sold, others just yelled.  It was chaos at its finest.  I tried to buy a couple of bananas, but they wanted to charge me $6.

I planned to go to Jerash for a day.  It is a small city within an hour from Amman.  It has incredible Roman ruins.  I took the local bus and spent about 5 hours just wandering around the very large site.  I loved standing in the seating area of the chariot racing track.  I am sure it was the site of lots of excitement in its day.  Many of the ruins were very well preserved.  It could be improved if someone cleaned up the garbage and the endless cigarette butts.  Walking back to catch the bus, I took a wrong turn.  I ended up on a little street.  An old man had a tarp spread out under an olive tree, and he was up a ladder knocking the olives down.  His wife was giving him directions.  They did not speak English, but she got their young son who was able to tell me how to get to the bus.

The day I was leaving I got packed and checked out of my hotel.  As the hotel was on a very steep hill I planned to flag a taxi in front of my hotel. There was NO traffic.  I walked down the hill to a big main street – and there was no traffic there either.  The street was all blocked off as there was a marathon in progress.  I asked a police officer where I could catch a taxi and he pointed and said “5 minutes”.  He certainly must walk faster than I do – it was about 3 kms.  Once again I was so happy my backpack weighs so little.

Jordan is not a budget destination.  As a Western tourist, I am used to paying more than locals in poorer countries.  I felt this was taken to an extreme in Jordan.  A bus trip that cost me 7.5 JD ($10) cost a local $2.  By the time I left the country I felt most locals considered me a walking ATM.  The price difference in much poorer countries has always been much less.


Jumeirah Mosque

I have lived in a Moslem country and visited many places with mosques, but I had never had the opportunity to tour one.  In an effort to promote understanding, some mosques in UAE now offer tours.  I toured Jumeirah Mosque and found the tour so interesting and informative.  Prior to the tour, we were offered crepes with date syrup and the creamiest, silkiest, nicest cream cheese I have ever tasted. There was also fresh dates and tea and coffee.  The Arabic coffee did not resemble coffee as we know it at all.  I was expecting dark and thick, and this was more like tea. Appropriate clothing was provided free of charge for tour guests.  Women were expected to have heads, shoulders and knees covered, men needed to be covered from above their navel to below their knees.

Our guide explained there are 5 Pillars of Islam and Moslems are expected to:

  1. Declare their faith
  2. Pray 5 times a day
  3. Charity – they are expected to donate 2.5 % of their savings annually
  4. Fast – during the month of Ramadan they do not eat or drink during daylight hours.  This is to teach patience, and act as a reminder there are people in the world who do not get to eat every day
  5. Haj – once during their lifetime they are to make a pilgrimage to Mecca

She went on to explain that the first 2 are mandatory. The other three depend on each person’s situation.She had a young man come in and show their prayer ritual – it takes 2 minutes.  Men are expected to go to the mosque if possible, women are not.

She also explained the dress code.  The Koran simply says that women should dress modestly.  They consider women’s hair very sensual, and so for that reason, it is kept covered.  The abayas are a loose long coat and she says they are cool to wear, and no one can see what is being worn underneath.  She said her daughter has, more than once, attended university classes wearing her pjs under her abaya.  She went on to explain in most countries wearing a veil is a personal choice, and the main reasons for wearing it have nothing to do with modesty etc.  Women wear a veil to prevent their faces from getting sunburned, and to keep the sand out of their mouth!

Jumeirah Mosque was very typical to UAE, not too large and quite understated.   In Abu Dhabi, I visited Sheikh Zayed  Bin Sultan Al Nahyan  Mosque.  It is the burial place of the first President of UAE and is breathtaking.  It cost more than half a billion dollars to build.  It is Italian marble with floors and pillars set with semiprecious stones.  One of the chandeliers weighs 12 tons and it took 1200 women over a year to weave the 5700  sq. meter carpet.

I now have a whole new understanding of the Moslem Religion.


The tallest structure in the world proudly towers over downtown Dubai.  The Burj Khalifa is a 2722 feet tall beautiful building.  It has 160 floors. Started in 2004 it was completed in 2009 at a cost of $1.5 Billion dollars.  It took 22 million man hours to build and each day on the site there would be 12,000 workers from over 100 different countries. It holds 17 world records including the highest display of fireworks in the world.  Every New Year’s Eve over 1 million people show up to view the spectacle.

Visitors are whisked up 125 floors in one minute on one of the high-speed elevators.  There are two floors dedicated to viewing decks.  I was amazed how far I could see, and they say the tower is visible on a clear day from 100 kms away.

Tickets can cost as little as $27, if you do not want to see the sunset.  Prices increase for sunset and fast track, so you do not have to stand in line for so long.

My ticket was for 5 pm but I did not get to the top until 6:10 because the lines are so long.  If you go, get in line early.


Dubai is all about being the biggest and the best. ” More is better” certainly shows here.  The United Arab Emirates is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and the wealth and the things that money can buy are very evident.  Not only are malls full of top fashion and jewellery designer shops, there are also endless designer shops for children and babies.  It is not uncommon to see a Baby Dior and also a Dior for Kids shop in the same mall.  The Metro even has “Gold Cars” for those who do not want to sit in the cheap seats.


Dubai has the tallest structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa, 163 floors.  Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world, and with the soon-to-open expansion, it will have 20 million sq. feet of shopping,  and a taxi service within the mall.  It also has the largest water show and the largest indoor snow park in the world.  The ski area takes up the size of three football fields.  It is a huge attraction as most people in this part of the world have never experienced snow.  Another mall features an indoor skating rink.

The four tallest hotels in the world are in Dubai, and also the world’s tallest residential building.   The only 7-star hotel in the world sits on its own private island here. There is a building built like a picture frame and one that twists 90 degrees from top to bottom.  The Tiara Towers appear to be wearing tiaras.

With over 45 million flowers Dubai boasts the largest natural flower garden in the world.  It also has the world’s largest man-made marina. The marina area has seen over 200 highrises built in the past 10 years.

The best “biggest” of Dubai has to be Jumeria Palm Island.  It is the first, and smallest of three islands built in the shape of a palm tree.  There are 17 fronds, and each residence on each frond has its own private beach.

People here say if they do not have the biggest – they will soon build it.  An example is the ferris wheel similar to the London Eye.  It is almost completed, and it will come as no surprise – it is bigger than the one in London.

In Dubai you can order a cappuccino with a dusting of 18 k gold powder – for only $25 as you sit and watch the growth of the fastest growing city in the world.

And, if you are needing a dress made of gold – I can tell you where to buy one – DUBAI!! Another detail you might need to know – Uber has helicopter service here – you just call them, they tell you where the nearest helipad is – they are everywhere – and they pick you up and drop you at one close to where you want to go.  Only in Dubai.