No amount of guidebook research can replace local knowledge. We have handpicked locals and asked them about their city and how they interact with it. They live and work in the city and kindly provided their favourite spots.
This is the first in a series. Part I is focussed on Amman – the capital and largest city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. With a population of four million, Amman has plenty to explore. So meet Hisham, a passionate man who loves his city.
Hello Hisham, What you do for a living?
I Started working in Amman as a pharmacist in a pharmaceutical company. I worked for six years, then I found that my interests lie in the chemistry of roasting and I have to follow my passions.
How long have you been living in the city?
I’ve been in Amman for eight years.
How did you end up there?
I was born in kuwait and then 2 months later we moved to Irbid, a city 83 km north Amman. I lived there until I graduated from university and moved to Amman to search for a job as it is the capital of Jordan and there are a lot of opportunities there.
What do you love about Amman, why do you love exploring it?
I discovered that I love Amman after I started to travel alot in the last two years. When I leave Amman for more than two weeks, I begin to miss it in a strange way. It was at that point that I came to the realisation – I couldn’t leave my beloved city.
I love the weather of Amman, we have a really nice weather around the year except a maximum of two months winter. The best time of the day is the sunset – where temperature of the summer goes down with the sun and you can enjoy the view from any place in Amman as it is full of mountains, each is known as a Jabal, Tál, and they are full of magical views.
How would you sum up Amman?
Complex, dramatic, full of action, disorganised, and a busy city. Living there teaches you patience and if you live there for a long time, you can succeed in living anywhere on the planet.
What’s your favourite place in the city?
Jabal Amman, which is the oldest area of Amman where you can enjoy the old city and feel the history of that streets, circles, and homes with the famous rose-rock wall colour that is not available nowadays, so only few buildings have it. Plus, there is the Rainbow Street and Paris Circle where you can take a walk and enjoy a good cup of local ‘Turkish coffee’ and eat falafel from Alquds restaurant (the oldest falafel restaurant in Amman)
Finish this sentence: “You can’t go home before you’ve…?”
Go for a run and climb the mountain near my home, it is a ritual that I used to do for more than a year and the timing is always near the sunset so what ever I’ve stressed all day long – everything will disappear.
Describe a perfect day in the city…
The perfect day for me starts with a fresh roasted cup of espresso that I would love to drink in our garden, and with every sip I can think very clearly of what is my schedule for the day while I breath the fresh morning air of Amman. I often get a chance to go for a walk in downtown at lunch time, there you can find very old and famous restaurants to have a really good lunch with a very good price. Downtown is popular, with its really old cafes that you can have a quick (argeeleh) hublybubbly with Turkish coffee. In Amman, we love gatherings. We gather almost everyday, anywhere, in-house or outside – so for us, good friends with a nice chat is more than enough to feel that we are really lucky to live in a nice city, with nice people and lovely family.
One piece of advice for a visitor?
Read a lot about Amman before you visit and try to find a good local friend that will help you as Amman is big and complex. Jordanians are known as (nashama) which means that we are generous, love to help and live to help also, so if you can contact one ‘nashmi’ he will take a good care of you and you will experience Amman the local way.
If you want to experience Amman for yourself, here are flights and hotels that are worth looking at.
Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Emirates, all operate regular, direct flights from Dubai to Amman
Hotel Bonita £
Located between the 2nd and 3rd Circles, this unpretentious inn offers six simple rooms and free Wi-Fi. The restaurant serves good Spanish food (461 5061; bonitaamman.com; from JD60)
Heritage House ££
Within walking distance of the historic area; a stylish modern hotel in a older building; offers apartments with breakfast, garden and Wi-Fi (464 3111; heritageamman.com; studios from JD93)
Grand Hyatt £££
A luxury business hotel well placed within walking distance of trendy Jabal Amman (465 1234; amman.grand.hyatt.com; from JD152)