Adam Groffman is one of the winners of last year’s XMAS Competition and a well-known travel blogger. Here he shares some insight into things to do in Jordan’s capital. Read more of Adam’s work on his blog, Travels of Adam.
When I was backpacking around the world last year I had a lot of friends and strangers recommend that I visit Jordan. It’s a country I probably wouldn’t have thought of except for the fact it was so highly recommended. When I had the chance to visit on the On The Go Tour’s festive tour, I jumped at the chance to visit. What I discovered was definitely a surprise—and the surprises started from the very first day I spent in Jordan’s capital Amman.
I arrived in Amman from Europe in the early evening, but that didn’t stop me from starting to explore this Middle Eastern capital city right away. With some food recommendations from the friendly hotel staff (and with the help of FourSquare on my iPhone), I was out wandering the streets of downtown Amman within a few short hours after arriving in Jordan. My plan: find some falafel.
Falafel is probably the most delicious thing in the world and the Jordanians certainly know how to make it. Over the course of my one-week trip in Jordan I (and my other tour-goers) probably averaged a falafel a day. But on my first night in Amman I was out on my own. It didn’t take me more than 20 minutes to find a falafel sandwich for less than 50 pence—and a tasty one at that. It was from a crowded falafel stand on a busy street—busy even at 10:30pm on a weekday! Falafel stands can be found all over the city but many people claim (including my On The Go Tours guide) that Hashem cafe in downtown Amman has the best.
Exploring the cafes & bars of Rainbow Street
Amman’s biggest surprises, though, were on the popular (and almost always busy) Rainbow Street. It’s not a terribly long stretch of road but it’s packed with cafes, shops & galleries and even some bars. My friends and I treated ourselves to a dinner at the exceptionally trendy restaurant Cantaloupe on Rainbow Street and then an after-dinner drink at Books@Cafe—a hybrid bookstore, bar & cafe rolled into one. There were more than enough restaurants and cafes to explore on Rainbow Street I could’ve easily spent another day or two just wandering the street from shop to shop.
Learning history at the Roman ruins
Jordan’s countryside is peppered with ancient monuments and a lot of history, but I was surprised to learn there were plenty of Roman ruins within the city limits of Amman as well. The Roman Theatre (built during the time of Marcus Aurelius) was quite literally on
the side of a highway (which used to be an ancient trade road). What was surprising, though, is that the theatre is still used today for public events! With the Roman ruins making up part of the backdrop of modern Amman, the city came as a big surprise to me—a mix of old and new, and with more to come. The city already has ancient Roman ruins and beautiful hillsides covered with white sandstone homes, but that hasn’t stopped the city from wanting to expand even more. A 42-floor skyscraper is expected to be completed later this year!