Jordan's capital city is the biggest city in the country, but Jordan's main objects of touristic enjoyment are not here. One is the Dead Sea, where the water is so dense with salt that it is virtually impossible to sink. It's a short drive out of the city. The other is Petra in the South of the country. This one, probably most widely known from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (and more recently Transformers 2), is an ancient wonder not to be missed. Unfortunately, I missed both of them while I was here. I stayed in Amman the entire time. Although I wasn't entirely prepared for being a tourist in the Middle East during the Iraq War. My flight (on Royal Jordanian) had a planned stopover here for two days.
The hotel the airport put me up in was literally in the middle of the desert. It did have a bus stop in front though. So after a shower, I hopped on the bus with vague instructions as to where it would drop me off (but later realized I had no idea how to get back). In the city, I started wandering aimlessly. The city is mostly colorless except for a huge flag pole with a huge Jordanian flag on it. The Parliament building was uneventful but some of the mosques were nice looking. I even found ancient Roman ruins, including an amphitheater. Shopping was pitiful here and walking around is very tiring as the city is built on a series of hills (think San Francisco without the trolley and cool weather). After I admitted to myself that I had been lost for hours now, I sat down along the road to rest and immediately struck up a conversation with a Palestinian refugee. He assured me (in somewhat decent English) that Jordan is a safe place to visit and I should bring all my friends here next time...and one day to Palestine too. After a while, I found a Ritz Carlton (the one that was bombed a few months later) and happily (and in English) negotiated with the door staff to get me a taxi back to the hotel in the middle of the desert. The rest of my time here was similarly daze-like with no agenda, direction, and a nagging worry that I was not supposed to still be there on a layover that long. But it all worked out. I doubt I'd go back to Jordan for the sake of Amman, but I would love to check out Petra.
Ancient Roman ampitheater