What To See On A Short Budget Trip To Jordon

Amman On A Budget.

I arrived in Jordon at Queen Alia International Airport on Wednesday 30th January, 2019 from a one hour flight from Cairo, Egypt. I was able to pay for the visa, which was $56.50 and change money up easily as there were a few friendly, English speaking staff about who showed me where to go. On exiting the airport I could hear loud music and noticed there was a large crowd of people singing and dancing at the exit area. An onlooker excitedly told me they were expecting someone important and were celebrating his arrival so, as I was waiting for the bus to go to Downtown Amman and had already bought my ticket, I grabbed the chance to watch and filmed the happy event.

I had been to Egypt for 9 days and found the price for returning to Izmir in Turkey to be very high, so this is usually the time when I search for options to travel to another country which offeres cheap flights and also to my desired final destination.

I was pleased to find that the 2 flights of Egypt-Jordon, then Jordon-Turkey, were cheaper than the direct flight from Egypt to Turkey. So I thought I would grab the opportunity to stay for 3 nights and booked a budget 3* hotel called Pasha Amman for $75 with breakfast. I also looked online to see what free activities were available near to the hotel as I didn’t have much time or money to spend. Pasha Amman hotel in Downtown Amman was a perfect location as the Roman Theatre was across the road and the Citadel was also fairly close by, up on the hill and easily reached by foot.

The bus from the airport took me three quarters of the way there for 3JD and I took a taxi for the rest of the journey and paid 7JD so it wasn’t too expensive for the distance I travelled.

When I arrived at the Hotel and went inside, I heard traditional music and people singing in the restaurant close to the reception area. It was lively music and everyone was enjoing the entertainment singing and clapping. I was greeted by a smiley face at the reception desk and proceeded to make my check-in with pleasant conversation. I was given the key, informed the times for breakfast and instructed to take the lift to the 3rd floor (on my own!). I was relieved that there wasn’t anyone trying to take my suitcase up unneccessarily in the hope of me giving money as it has wheels and there’s a lift and I’m quite capable of finding my room on my own!

I inspected the room, which had a double bed, chest of drawers with mirror and 2 chairs. It also had a small fridge for a few drinks and snacks. The room and bathroom were both clean and basic as expected from a budget hotel. There were extra blankets available if needed in the room as it was cold at night being early February. I was even able to borrow a hair dryer from reception for use during my stay at no extra cost.

I slept well in the comfy bed and enjoyed a traditional Jordanian breakfast with as much coffee as I wanted while chatting with some of the other travellers who had been there for a few days. They suggested where I should go first in the immediate vicinity. After breakfast I took a short walk to the Roman Theatre nearby and spent about 45 minutes taking photos and enjoying in the scenery.

Roman Theatre Amman

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Downtown Amman

In the hotel reception lounge area I had seen a notice board giving information about a FREE daily walking tour at 11am and 3pm (though donations to the tour guide was expected). The man giving the tours had mentioned it to me the previous evening on my arrival but I decided not to join the group and went on my own walk shortly after he left with a small group.

While wandering the streets looking at the many clothes and souvenir shops, food stalls and jewellery, a man dressed in traditional clothing who I had seen in the Lobby of my hotel, stopped and spoke to me. He told me he was a guide. We walked while having a conversation about England as he had once lived there for a short time. Along the street we came to a large stall selling sweet desserts. He asked the seller to offer me a sample. I don’t remember the name of it but I recall it had nuts in which  I love in cakes and desserts so it appealed to me very much indeed! I noticed they also have a dessert that looked the same as one they have in Turkey with a similar name, Künefe (Turkish) Kanafe or Kanafa in Jordan. I tried it during my stay in Jordan and it tasted the same as the Turkish dessert with ‘stretchy’ cheese and lots of honey. Too sweet for me to eat their large portions!!

Continuing on our walk we came to a shop where 3 men stood at the front and were each taking long sticks that were standing up in a bunch next to them and inserting them into some kind of spinning drum. People had gathered around to watch the men working. The guide explained the sticks were sugar cane and the men were making it into sugar. I had never seen this before so I also found it quite interesting skill to watch.

A few photos of my walkabout.

Yellow Bicycle Decorated With Flowers

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Savory Food Street Stall

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Stacked Sugar Cane Sticks

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People queing for a drink from the Healthy Drinks With Cane Sugar making shop.

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Sugar Cane Sticks

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Popular Scarves

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Ladies Clothes Shop

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Downtown Amman

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Downtown Amman With A (Free) Tour Guide

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Next we came to an old, faded blue door that was centred with a shiny plaque and the famous name Duke’s Diwan enscribed on it. I soon learned from the Tour Guide that this tourist attraction was once the first Post Office in Amman.

I was intrigued and eager to learn about some of the history of Amman so I made my way up the steep stairway and proceeded to look around. Everything in the rooms including the kitchen and toilet had been kept in exactly the same style though beautifully restored. The sun beamed through the large windows and created interesting shadows on the light blue paint of the uneven stone walls and therefore, I was able to take some wonderful shots.

The Duke’s Diwan is one of the oldest, well preserved stone buildings that was built in 1924 in the heart of Amman by Abdul Rahman Madi. It served as the first Central Post Office, and later in 1948, it hosted the Haifa Hotel.

It was in 2001 when it caught the eye of Mamdouh Bisharat, the ‘Duke of Mukheibeh’ who decided to rent the house to protect it from destruction and to keep the city’s authenticity and character alive for Jordanian citizens, tourists and visitors. Known locally as the “Duke of Mukheiheh.” Named “Duke” in honor of its benefactor, and “Diwan” in reference to the Arabic word for the room of the house always open to guests and traditionally means “Council Chamber.”

Nowadays, informal concerts and events take place in the five adjoining rooms and airy balcony, where easels are erected to signal the diwan’s greater purpose. Amazingly, throughout the residence, I noticed much of the original decor from the 1920’s has been beautifully restored, including a charming vintage radio, the original freestanding stove, and period specific wide wooden chairs. The walls are decorated with framed memorabilia of the highlights of Haifa Hotel’s glory days when Amman was among the world’s most ancient newly-modern cities.

I really enjoyed my time in here and it was a bonus as had I not been told about it by the Tour Guide I would not have known anything about the Dukes Diwan. I left there feeling quite content from the opportunity and many amazing photos.

Entrance to the Duke's Diwan

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The Dukes Desk

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The inside has been carefully restored to remain looking like it's original state.

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The sun shining into the room really makes this shot so interesting. This is my most favourite photo of them all.

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This is my 2nd favourite photo catching the haze from the sun surrounding the cabinet.

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The Kitchen as it was then.

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After spending what appeared like an hour or so in the Dukes Diwan, I went on my way to look further around Downtown Amman.

Later, back at the hotel, I relaxed for a while in the cafe with a coffee and as I was a little peckish I thought I’d sample some cake too! Later in the evening I enjoyed dinner in the hotel restaurant accompanied by live music. The restaurant wasn’t large but the guests staying at the hotel filled the room as they clearly enjoyed the food and nightly entertainment.

Coffee and Cake!

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Evening Music Entertainment

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Dinner in the Hotel Restaurant

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After dinner I stayed in the restaurant to work with my laptop as the wifi wasn’t sufficient in my room. Sitting alone, nearby to the left of me was an elderly gentlemen and I could see from the corner of my eye that he kept looking over at me. I continued to work and wondered if I should strike up a conversation, though I really wanted to get on with my work.

I felt a little uncomfortable as it was clear he was curious and kept looking over. So, eventually I spoke to the him and asked if he was local. He smiled and said ‘yes, I am Ahmad, where are you from?’ So, then we chatted a while and I told him about my day and mentioned I was going to the Citadel the following day. He then kindly offered to accompany me and said he could tell me a lot about Amman. I accepted his offer and we agreed a time to meet in the lobby the next morning at 11am. Ahmad was a sculpter and had his own workshop.

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This stairway in Pasha Amman Hotel was one of 4 that were all covered in inscriptions from thankful past visitors who left their thanks, gratitude and feelings about their stay in Jordon and at the hotel. It certainly was a very pleasant experience for me also.

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This cute owlet was being cared for by the hotel staff as it had been injured. They returned it back to the wild the following day after this photo was taken. They were also caring for a few other small animals such as tortoises and rabbits.

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While waiting for Ahmad in the lobby I noticed a woman holding a young owl. She held it out jesturing for me to hold it. I was excited to hold such a cute little owl and politely asked the woman to take some photos. She obliged happily and told me the owl had been injured and was well again and soon to be returned to the wild. Then I notice there were 2 parrots walking along the curtain rail pulling off the curtain rings. They were clearly enjoying themselves in being destructive!

Ahmad arrived promptly and we left. The walk from the hotel was uphill and because of his age it was slow. Nevertheless, we were not in a hurry and during our walk he told me much about his life, family and history of the town.

We came across some children playing in the street near their house. Their mother noticed me and my friend walking towards them and started waving her hand like she wanted to stop us going past. Then I realised, just like the Egyptians, she wanted a photo of me with her children. I obliged of course, so the woman sat her children on their car bonnet and I stood in between them while she took the photo. They were so excited for the photo. It’s a great feeling being appeciated like that in these countries that want photos of me with them and their family.

After around 40 minutes we arrived at the Citadel. Normally, it would take 20 minutes but we were walking slowly enjoying the view and taking photos so it took twice the time. We were a little tired now and decided to sit with a coffee before looking round the Citadel. It was great having a new friend who was a native of Jordan and spoke English well enough for me to understand him. Ahmad told me much about his life and family during the day and about the history of Amman.

On arrival the sky was clear and blue and the sun was hot but, gradually as we walked around the clouds came. The sky looked awesome! We spent around one hour looking round the citadel taking photos. Some of my photos look amazing because of the type of clouds appearance. We then visited the Museum (which was included in the Citadel entry price) and spent around 45 minutes browsing. There were many glass display cabinets with some very small artifacts and some very large ones. All-in-all, it was a very interesting experience and enjoyed every minute of the Citadel and Musem.

I paid 3 JD to enter the Citadel, but it was the only place I visited that I paid an entry fee, though if you’re planning on visiting other cultural tourist places and museums that require an entry fee it’s cheaper to buy a Pre-Pay Ticket that will give you entry to all of them at a greatly reduced price.

Amman Citadel

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Amman Citadel

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The Citadel Cafe

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Citadel Cafe

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The Citadel Entrance

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The Citadel Entrance

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The Citadel Entrance

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Inside the museum.

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After leaving the Citadel we walked Downtown to find a place to eat, then Ahmad took me to meet a female friend of his who was in the same trade as him. She also spoke a little English so we were able to chat over a coffee. Just before we left she said I could choose an item from her shop as a souvenir. I chose a small colourful tile with Arabic writing of a girls name.

Ahmad was eager to show me his workshop so I accepted his invitation and we went. It was in a house that wasn’t used as a residential dwelling and clearly used as a large workshop as limestone dust lay everywhere. He said he wanted to make something for me and he set about choosing a piece of ‘stone’ to work from. I had no idea what he was making and waited eagerly for the ‘surprise,’ taking short video snippets here and there.

Finally after around 45 minutes it was finished. I wasn’t sure I understood what it was meant to be but it looked kind of wierd as the faces of the 2 people were looking as if they were petrified! Lol! Ahmad showed me some of the Sculptures he had left lying around in his workshop. I liked them, and he let me choose a couple of small ones to take with me.

Limestone for Sculpting

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My Friend Working On The Sculpture

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My Friend Working On The Sculpture

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My Friend Working On The Sculpture

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My Friend Working On The Sculpture

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Limestone for Sculpting

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Just as we were about to leave the workshop Ahmad had an idea. He told me he had many Traditional Costumes and wondered if I’d like to try some on. Of course I said yes and we set about choosing some costumes and put them into 2 big bin liners. Ahmad suggested I do a ‘fashion show’ back at the hotel. So, off we went back to Pasha Amman by Taxi.

First, I had something to eat, then when everyone was ready and waiting for the ‘surprise’ I put on the costumes one-by-one and walked around for everyone to decide which one they liked best. It was a most enjoyable evening trying on these costumes and they looked much more attractive on me than I expected.

Just Lounging Around (Lol)

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Me with the Polish Restaurant Staff

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My last day consisted of breakfast in the hotel restaurant, a little online work and a coffee with a new friend who I met on my first day while browsing for souvenirs in the shop he worked in. He gave me a gift of a necklace with matching earings which had the ‘Hand of Fatma’ and invited me to drink coffee with him before I return to my country. I even tried on some headwear in the shop for fun and photos.

I can honestly say that before I went to Jordon I was quite nervous going alone, however, being a Female Solo Traveler in Jordon was a wonderful experience and I never once was afraid. I was made to feel welcome from the minute I arrived at the airport. People were so helpful and friendly everywhere and on arrival at my Budget Hotel I felt comfortable immediately.

I had a friendly conversation with the male receptionist when he realised I live in Turkey and told me he learned some English while working in Antalya for three years. The hotel had 4 floors and totalled 17 rooms and was quite busy. All the guests at meal times and other times in the cafe/restaurant were friendly with each other exchanging experiences of all kinds. In the evenings lively live music, dancing and singing usually filled the Restaurant. It certainly got my attention! I loved it!

Although Jordan is quite expensive for travelers, especially for those like me who live in a country with a low salary and poor exchange rate, I’ll definitely be going back to experience a whole lot more, specifically to experience Petra and Wadi Rum of course! Though I know for that it won’t be a ‘Budget’ holiday!!

My new Jordanian friend recommends to see the Ruins of Umm Quais, Ajloun, Jerash, Dead Sea, Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra (if the weather looks favourable) as I’ll be arriving on 18th January 2020 for around 9 days. So, my adventures in Jordan will continue very soon I’m happy to say.

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Inside my new friend's Souvenir Shop

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