Amman

Day 2. Friday. These things matter.

Firstly, because last night we had seen Amman in all it’s madness – crowds of people flocking to the street markets, full of chatter and smells and action. Secondly, because Friday in a Muslim country is much like our Sunday where shops are not open and people are more likely to pray in a mosque rather than at home. So, as we walk downtown on our way to visit the Citadel, the streets are empty and those that are out and about are relaxed and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee in the sun.

We get lost. Well not really lost, just not quite sure which way to go. A lovely man drinking his tea on a stone chair points us up the hill. Looks promising, after all the Citadel is on a hill. Following his directions, we find ourselves in a residential neighbourhood and a small boy grabs us and takes us through his house and up the hill behind it. We are at the Citadel, just not at the main entrance. In fact, not really at any entrance. We climb up over the fence and stop for a panoramic view of Amman before navigating our way to the ticket booth, trying hard to ignore the confused stares of the guards as we walk out of the gate to buy a ticket and walk back in.

Views from the Citadel in Amman

Amman, as seen from the Citadel

Evidence indicates the Citadel has been settled for over 7,000 years, making it one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places. Again, it is the remarkable history of Jordan that stands out to me as you see the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam with ancient temples, palaces and mosques colocated in the same area and given equal status. With much of the site yet to be excavated, the ruins themselves are not much to see but we enjoy a relaxing morning wandering around.

Views of the Roman Citadel in Amman

Temple of Hercules, built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180)

Views of the Roman Citadel in Amman

In front of the reconstructed domed audience hall of the Umayyad Palace

The Roman theatre tempts us as we stroll down the hill, exploring backyard gardens and dodging the crowds leaving the mosque. The three-tiered theatre is reconstructed and, as non-original materials were used, it is not completely accurate. However, the atmosphere of the theatre remains, and I wish we were able to see it in action. Michael wandered up to the ‘God seats’, while I chickened out and joined the ranks of the military in the middle section.

The stunning Roman theatre in Amman

The stunning Roman theatre in Amman

A late lunch of felafels followed, yet another example of the delicious treats Jordan is throwing upon us. Hashem restaurant, an outdoor cafe providing an ideal spot to watch the locals, delivered above it’s high expectations with a scrumptious table full of felafels, bread, vegetables and condiments arriving without the need to order and at bargain basement prices. The meal follows a cooked spicy stir fry and ‘made-by-us’ Jordanian coffee at Jafra cafe, a meal of Mezza and Jordanian beer at Zorba’s, a tasty Mensaf (lamb on rice with yoghurt sauce) at Al Quds restaurant and an incredible plate of tasty tasty sweets at Habibah.

The day – and our time in Amman – finishes with a wander through the popular Rainbow street that treats us to a modern dance performance, an introduction to felafel sandwiches (oh the yumminess, better even than a kebab) and an icecream that goes down well in the heat of Amman, stifling even in the evening. And now, it’s onwards to Petra for a new experience awaits.

Local beer from Jordan

In a non-drinking Muslim culture, Michael still finds the local craft brewery and a lovely stout.