Living in Amman

Amman Travel Blog

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On Jebel Amman
Living in Amman...

...can be: a little challenging, yet simple, sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding, and greatly enjoyable.

Unlike Cairo, Jerusalem or Damascus, Amman was never the capital of a Caliphate or the historical trading Mecca of ancient times.  Amman, when Abdullah I chose it as the capital of the Kingdom had a meager 20,000 people living in it.  It has since exploded as a bustling city with over 2 million residents.  It doesn't however have the skyscrapers you might see in other Arab capitals.  At least not yet; The King is building two lonely towers in Amman that do not fit in amongst the vast spread of 4 story or less buildings seated on the rolling hills known as Jebels.

  There's the Roman Theater and the citadel and plenty of cultural museums but what Amman is really known for is the shopping.  In Wasat Al-Balad (Down town), all around the Husseini mosque you can find Amman's cheapest shopping district.  In Amman you should look for cheap gold, Arabic trinkets, coffee and spices or even decretive flatware.  If you'd rather pretend you are in Abu Dhabi then there's Mecca Mall.  There are the craft shops at Souq Jara or the clothes shops (especially for women, there is a ton) on Jebel Amman.  It's all there in Amman. The city also has cafes and authentic restaurants galore.  My friends and I crammed 36 hours into each day and here are some of the highlights:


1)Some awesome retaurants in Amman:
-Jafra in Downtown Amman.

Mutia' shows us how to make Turkish Coffee at Cafe Jafra.
  You have to ask someone where this place is because there is no sign.  It's entrance is in a dark alley but the restaurant itself isn't shabby at all.  The cafe is vibrant with young people and has a really cool atmosphere: a blend of Communist revolutionary spirit, Palestinian pride and a contemporary art scene.  There are portraits of Che, as well as famous Arabic singers.  I came on night when there was a Oud performer with and lots of people.  It was great traditional music and there were people clapping along.  Here you can also order Qahawa Jafra (Jafra Coffee) in which they serve you all the equiptment you need to cook your own Turkish coffee (see picutres).  It's pretty fun if you've never done it before and it inspired me to go looking for my own set which cost me only 10 JD in the Souq.
Jordanian cocktails at the karaoke bar
Cafe Jafra is definatley worth looking for on a Saturday night in the downtown area.

-Mata'm Hashem, the one in the guide books is a cool place to get authentic street falafel but that's all they serve, really, falafel, fool and hummus, just like on the sign.  It's a place of pride in Jordan; the King came here to eat during Ramadan one year. 

-Close by in an alley is Habeebah where you can get some late night Kunaafa, a famous Jordanian sweet made from cheese and a thin layer of sugary pasta and syrup.

-Mata'm Al-Quds, Jerusalem Restaurant in downtown is a good place to get good Mansaf, the national dish of Jordan.  It's delicate Lamb or chicken on yellow rice with a creamy oily white sauce. It's delicious.

-On Jebel Amman check out Cafe Desilva becuase they have Karaoke nights where you can hear men and women making fools of themselves singing their favorite Arabic artists.

Pretty plates at Cafe Jafra and our favorite Jordanian drink: Limon wa Na'na', Lemonade and mint, sometimes it's a slushy as at Jafra
  They have good cocktails (non-alcoholic fruit blends) and some decent Nargila.  Me and a friend threw in some American music and the restaurant cheered in support.  The good part is that when a white kid gets up and raps in Jordan nobody knows that it looks ridiculous!

2) Shopping: Do it downtown, not in Shmeisani or God forbid Mecca Mall (where people walk around looking at western crap that's tripple the price it's worth and pretend like they live in Dubai). Jebel Amman is a great place to shop for womens clothing.  Shopping seems to be the general theme in Amman.  There's lots to buy and you might as well becuase Amman doesn't exactly have mosques from the middle ages or too many historical sights. Get a red and white Kofiyyeh (representing the Jordanians and the bedouin) or a black and white Palestinian one or even the Yasser Arafat spider web one.

Karaoke at Cafe DeSilva in Jebel Amman
  Look for a traditional dishdasha (the robe worn by middle eastern men, especially in Saudi Arabia).  Buy DVDs and CDs for 1 JD each.  We even found some of Movies that haven't come out yet.  They're all pirated so don't let them scam you with a higher price.  There's street bookstores (a good one outside of Habeebah downtown) with some ridiculous political propaganda and books ranging from Hitler's Mein Kampf to the Holy Quran and also some childrens stories (to help me in learning Arabic).  Gold supposedly is a good thing to get for cheap but if you're brave enough to buy jewelry thats unmarked then youre a better man than I. Mike got a football Jersey from a local team and I went looking for Islamic Art.  Also, I kind of have a thing for traditional and historic weapons.
Shopping for dishdasha in the souq (Wasat al balad)
  We found a famous blade-smith across from the Roman Theater.  He'll make you a bedouin dagger or a Caucasian dirk and he'll even engrave it with you name or a phrase.  For 5 Dinar you can get a custom design on the scabbard and even watch him do it.  In his shop you can see knives in all stages of creation.




3)Story: We finally made it to the Roman amphitheater but it was taken over by some Germans by the looks of them who were making a film with a handful of ridiculously dressed American looking tourist extras.  They told us to go look at the side entrance and of course there isn't one, there's just a crappy tourist trap of a gift shop.  So in protest mike played his bagpipes outside the theater until one of the directors came up to him.

Mike playing bagpipes at the Roman Theater (see story).
  He kept playing and just looked at her as she winced from the overbaring noise of the instrument.  Eventually he stopped so she could tell us that she was trying to make a movie about tourism so we proceeded to give her a lecture about how we are actual tourists and came to see the theater and couldn't because of the damn filming.  Needless to say we weren't very nice.

 


4)We took a break from the summer heat by stopping in Motia's favorite juice cafe.  Cafe Bilaat Ar-Rasheed has drinks and shisha like any place but it's right downtown and they sell the cheapest shisha in town and the cold hibiscus juice is delicious.  Hibiscus is kind of a Egyptian thing and not hugely popular in Jordan but it's so good.  Motia said that it's like Arab Wine.


leenalshareh says:
this is great.. i am moving to amman next week and this has brightened up my mood a bit hehe. i was born in syria but never lived there, grew up in brazil and have spent the last two years in malta. hopefully i will enjoy jordan as much as you did. thanks!!
Posted on: Sep 19, 2011
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On Jebel Amman
On Jebel Amman
Mutia shows us how to make Turkis…
Mutia' shows us how to make Turki…
Jordanian cocktails at the karaoke…
Jordanian cocktails at the karaok…
Pretty plates at Cafe Jafra and ou…
Pretty plates at Cafe Jafra and o…
Karaoke at Cafe DeSilva in Jebel A…
Karaoke at Cafe DeSilva in Jebel …
Shopping for dishdasha in the souq…
Shopping for dishdasha in the sou…
Mike playing bagpipes at the Roman…
Mike playing bagpipes at the Roma…
Mein Kampf sold in Arabic on the s…
Mein Kampf sold in Arabic on the …
From Jebel Amman
From Jebel Amman
Us guys and our Turkish Coffee
Us guys and our Turkish Coffee
I like the Nargila
I like the Nargila
Probably less than a weeks worth …
Probably less than a week's worth…
Everything in our apartment is ghe…
Everything in our apartment is gh…
The Roman Amphitheater
The Roman Amphitheater
The cheapest sheesha in the downto…
The cheapest sheesha in the downt…
The hibiscus juice at Bilat Al Ras…
The hibiscus juice at Bilat Al Ra…
Amman
photo by: benwielenga