First Impressions of Amman from a Jordan Sceptic

I have a confession. Although I love the Middle East, I was never very interested in visiting the country of Jordan. Lacking the ancient history of Israel and Egypt and the uber-wealthy cachet of the Persian Gulf, I didn’t understand its appeal. The past few years, though, I’ve spent so much time in so many other Middle Eastern countries that I began thinking I should give Jordan a chance. I arrived in this country just last night, yet already I can see that Jordan clearly can hold its own on the stage of Middle Eastern tourism. This country has definitely captured my interest.

I spent my first morning here walking around the old city section of Amman and was later told this very busy, rather gritty area is only 20 percent of the capital city. It may be just a fraction of Amman, but I’m very glad that this is where I got my first impressions of Jordan because, honestly, I am loving it. Here’s why:

Amman looks just like I’d always pictured: Closely-built whitish-brown buildings built on hills. I love the look.

Downtown Amman, Jordan

It has a very nice little fruit and vegetable souq…

Fruit and Vegetable souk in Amman, Jordan

…at which literally the first thing I saw was an amazing, unidentified fruit. Does anyone reading this know what this fruit is?!

A mystery fruit found at the fruit souq in Amman

A little-known thousand-year-old architectural wonder called the Nymphaeum appeared in front of me as I was walking down the street. In how many countries of the world does something like this suddenly loom in front of you in a busy downtown area?

Built in 2 AD, the Nymphaeum in downtown Amman, Jordan

I also ran across a really nice gold souq with dozens of shops selling thousands of pieces of gold jewelry, with none of the pushy salesmen you’ll find in souqs elsewhere in the Mid East.

Amman's Gold Souk

A guy selling coffee out of metal cannisters on the street was so nice that he gave me a cup free of charge. Now, how many people would do the same?

Man selling coffe on the street in Amman, Jordan

And last but not least, I am loving Amman because it has the occasional quirk which helps keep things very interesting.

Women mannequins with scarves with dangling trinkets

Amman, I’ll see more of you tomorrow. :)