The City of Seven Hills

The beginning of September saw my first ever visit to Amman. Up unitl the trip I’d made it to all the other countries in the Middle East that Sun can sell to, with the exception of Lebanon and Jordan, so I was really looking forward to the trip. I’ve worked with lots of Jordanians in Dubai – Jordan’s well educated population seems to be its principle natural resource.
I was presenting at a conference at The Jordanian University, discussing how Sun’s desktop solutions meet a lot of the problems that Universities encounter with providing IT services to their students. The presentation seemed to go down pretty well, I’m pleased to report.
The flight from Dubai is only two and a half hours, I was met at the airport and everything went very smoothly as I was transferred to the Interncontinental. The hotel was great, with some very nice restaurants and a hotel bar that you’d actually want to visit even if you weren’t staying in the hotel, which I find is a pretty rare occurrence. I even forced myself to go to the fitness centre, as part of a new drive to get back in shape after an indulgent summer.
Amman itself, or what I saw of it, is very attractive. All the buildings are built out of the same white stone and my view of the city seemed to stretch for miles from my hotel window.

Both the guys who drove the hotel/airport transport car spoke excellent English and were very chatty. We spoke a lot about the relationship between Britain and Jordan. I hadn’t realised the King Abdullah was half English, although I knew that he’d gone to Sandhurst, like so many princes in this region.
The driving was pretty chaotic, as I’d expected. It still seemed safer than Dubai though, as the average speed was pretty low. I have to admit I did shut my eyes on a few occasions as various Taxis wobbled up rather close to whichever car I was in, or simply pulled out in front of us on the roundabouts. All the taxis seem to be cheap Korean makes for some reason. Painted yellow, with the combination of the ‘unique’ Korean approach to car styling, they gave the impression of lots of dented, dirty insects crawling around the roads.
A lot of the cars, which were mainly mid-sized European and Japanese saloons, had stickers on the back with a capital ‘D’, indicating that they’d been imported from Germany and sold on the secondhand market. When I pointed this out to my driver he told me that whilst that was often the case, a lot of people liked to stick the ‘D’ stickers on as it was percieved to be cool, even if they often didn’t know exactly what the thing meant.
On my second evening I decided to get out of the hotel and go to the area known as the ‘Ab Doon Circle’. This turned out to be a roundabout with several restaurants and bars clustered around it. There was a reasonable Irish Pub and a place describing itself as a ‘Pup and Restaurant German Beer’. I was quite intrigued to see which pups would be on the menu so I went in to have a look, but only discovered a dark bar populated by several friendly ladies. I made my excuses and left.
My taxi ride to the Ab Doon circle was quite exciting. We argued about the price for about ten minutes until I got fed up and agreed to a vastly inflated fee just so we could actually leave the hotel and get there before everything had shut. My driver then informed that all the restaurants were actually shut and that I should go to a special place he knew of where I would be well entertained but shouldn’t tell my wife I had been there. This argument lasted for most of the trip. Finally he actually dropped me where I wanted to be – sadly, however, he had to accept a lower than agreed fare, as I had no change. Served him right! Not surprisingly, everything was open.
Jordan’s so close to Dubai and so full of things to see and do, hopefully we’ll do a tourist visit next year. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, both from a personal and work point of view – what a shame it’s taken me three years living in the region to get to visit the place. Jordan, I’ll be back!

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