Day one: Amman

We got to the Farah Hotel at around 11pm last night (after a great flight with unexpected free food) and met Al, one of our Oasis trip companions, en route.

The hotel (farahhotel.com.jo) is great; clean, cheap, and friendly. Breakfast (because anyone who read my India blog will know describing food when I'm travelling is a priority) was flat bread, hard boiled eggs and soft cheese. This set us up for a day of exploring the city (with Al and Chris who we met at breakfast).

We started by climbing to the Amman Citadel and wandering around the grounds and museum. A spectacular view of the city and a cooling breeze from being high up, along with helpful and enthusiastic tourist police made for a fantastic morning. We learnt about the history of the area dating back to the stone age in the citadel museum.

On our way out we were talked into letting a tour guide called Basam drive us to a restaurant for a fantastic local lunch, a visit to the black and white mosque which overlooks the city and the blue mosque. They let H and I in once we were covered in black robes, nd we spent a few minutes wandering through this beautiful, tranquil place. Young lads approached us to chat and welcome us warmly. Well, the guys were welcomed. H and I were largly ignored, so we kept quiet. One of the boys sang verses of the Qu'ran for us, and I have never seen a more pure delight in anyone's eyes. The other told us that he was visiting his family in Jordan; he studies medicine in Turkey in term time.

Despite feeling a bit opressed, this was nonetheless incredible.

During the drive, Basam impartedlots of local knoledge. Like that there are more Palestinians residing in Jordan than Jordinians, particularly in Amman. Jordan is also the health capital of the Middle East with govenment funded hospitals, world renowned doctors and people travelling from miles around for care.

Promising us better quality materials and better prices than the tourist areas, Basam took us to a bazaar frequented by visitors from other Arabian nations. The place was stunning and devoid of other shoppers so we had the assistant's full attention. We were welcomed with rich bitter sweet Jordinian coffee, and dressed up in traditional Bedouin garb, apparently more for his amusement than anything else. Don't worry, we have photos.

We made some small purchases,and Basam returned us to the hotel; we each gave him 10JOD for what had been a wonderfully informative afternoon which we certainly could not have managed alone.

That evening we met Dave and Nev, ur Oasis tour leader and driver, ad Helen, Catheine, and Lizzie our fellow travellers.

We spent a relaxing evening in a restaurant/cofee shop then saw the brightly lit cityscape from the citadel at midnight.

Today we drive and camp on Mt Nebo overlooking Israel. No wifi for a while!

To summerise, Amman is a stunning and welcoming city with a varied history and tolerant friendly people. I will definitely be back.

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