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.