Even though I am studying abroad in Jordan, the classes and amount of homework do not leave much time for exploration. The weekends (Friday and Saturday) are the only free time we have. In addition, CIEE organizes several weekend trips to places like Petra and Jerash, leaving even less free time to spend in Amman! However, I vowed to make the most of this weekend as I spent last weekend relaxing and getting over jet lag.
As I mentioned before, no one uses addresses in Amman. Everything is located in relation to other establishments. We planned to go to an Irish Pub Friday night for Chris’s birthday. The guidebook said the pub was located off of the main circle in Abdoun. As the rain had stopped as we left the apartments, no one thought to bring umbrellas or raincoats, especially since we were planning on being inside for most of the night. However, as we arrived at the circle in Abdoun, it began to drizzle and we soon realized that no one knew exactly where the pub was located. After one lap around the circle, the group split up to ask Jordanians for directions. One main said it was located past the police building while another man told us it was down an entirely different street. After testing both sets of directions, we were still at a loss for the location of the pub. We tried one last futile attempt at asking directions – this time inside of an actual building.
The verdict? The Irish pub had been closed for 10 years. By this point, we were drenched, shivering, and desperate for shelter so we entered the closest bar we could find – The Magic Carpet. Two older Jordanians guarded the door, which is usually a promising sign, but this place turned out to be nothing but a headache.
First bad sign: We were the only people there. Actually, that’s a lie, there were three Jordanians smoking shisha in the back, but other than them, we were the only people there.
Second bad sign: There was no music playing, only a quiet infomercial with scantly-clad Arab women dancing and smiling at the camera. The bartender apparently really liked this channel because he kept staring at the TV and wiggling his hips between making drinks.
Third bad sign: It looked like a warehouse with Ikea furniture scattered throughout. There’s just nothing positive about that atmosphere.
Luckily our group had about nine people, six of them being guys, so there wasn’t much of a threat of danger. We were seated at the bar (not the best set up for large group interaction…) and promptly asked our orders. I never know what to order because I am not a big fan of alcohol. Hard cider is the only thing I enjoy drinking, but unfortunately it is not popular in Jordan. My go-to drink in public is a Power Move (ginger ale, rum, and lime) but I’m never sure if the Jordanian bartenders know/have ginger ale and I always aim for simplicity in my broken English interactions. Hence, I ordered a Long Island Ice Tea.
I wrote before about the astonishing price of 6.50JD for a LIIT, but they were priced at 8JD here! Even a rum and coke was 8JD! This is about $14!!!! We originally wanted to go to the Irish pub because the guidebook said the drinks were affordable. Clearly that goal of the evening was crushed.
When it came time for the check, the bill was 70JD! Out of the nine of us, two or three didn’t even order anything except water. They added the 200% tax and a hefty “service charge.” In total, my LIIT was 12JD or $20. No wonder the place was empty…. As we were leaving, some of the guys tried to go to the bathroom but there was a 1JD charge for using the facilities. What a joke!
Afterwards we decided to go to familiar Rainbow Street and order two hookahs. We spent the remainder of the night at FRIENDS@Cafe and it turned out to be pretty fun. Allison ordered a chocolate milkshake and we are almost certain it was made by blending brownie mix and milk. Once we returned home, we realized that the guidebook we found the Irish pub in is only a couple years old, meaning it couldn’t have closed down 10 years ago! Magic Carpet stole our money AND lied to us. Oh well, it is all a learning experience.
This morning I went with Allison and Rob to try to find the Friday morning “souq” or market. As much as I longed to sleep in, I only have a few weeks in Jordan and want to make the most of it. We left the apartment at 10 and braved the rain to go downtown. We spent a few hours walking around the fruit and clothing markets. The items were second-hand and extremely affordable, but I don’t need anything new quite yet. We also stumbled upon a shop with all sorts of Middle Eastern jewelry and paraphernalia. I bought a large Jordanian flag to hang in my room, some postcards, jewelry for my aunt and cousin who expressed their love for foreign necklaces before I left, and a scarf for myself. One thing I love about shopping in Amman is all the free samples! The helpful shop owner gave us each a little camel keychain with our purchases.
We met up with Andrew for lunch and went to Hashim’s. The food is delicious and the tea is sweet but it is located outside which isn’t fun on a cold, rainy day. For dessert, we went to a local pastry shop and asked for one of everything. The owner filled and box and it only cost 5JD or $8! We came back to the apartment and had a small, sugar coma-inducing feast. I still love knafeh the best. It looks like a haystack made of spun dough with cheese inside and then drenched in sugar syrup.
Now we are getting ready to go out to Dubliner’s… another Irish themed pub that will hopefully be less difficult to find than the other one.
Update: We didn’t actually go to Dubliner’s. The evening proved to be extremely eventful, nonetheless. The guys wanted to stay in the apartment since it was pouring rain, but we made a quick run to the store to stock up on supplies beforehand. As we were waiting outside of the store, a large group of Americans walked by. They appeared to be our age so I made friendly eye contact and before we knew it, we were headed to Seven Barrels with them. These students are studying in Irbid, Jordan, a very conservative and traditional city. One of the girls in the group described Irbid as being the Detroit of Jordan. They came to Amman for the weekend to get away and to actually speak some English.
I found out one of the guys used to go to DU and currently lives next to campus! Another one is from Littleton, Colorado, near Denver. It is such a small world.
Sorry for the extremely detailed and lengthy blog post! I’m sure intricate details of my every day life aren’t of interest to everyone, but hopefully they are entertaining to a few! Also, this is my way of “journaling” for myself, so I record everything I want to remember – including embarrassing stories of getting lost and swindled!