Amman: Jordan’s Lively Heart


After the magic of Petra, we moved on to Amman and stayed Downtown in the heart of the action, amid the bustle of the main shopping district, Al-Husseiny Mosque, and the souk. It brings back so many memories of our days in Khartoum.

We can’t say it’s the calmest placed we’ve stayed, with the five-per-day call to prayers, and the drivers that use their horns instead of their brakes.

It’s an assault on the senses, but it’s authentic Amman. We started in the souk where you can buy just about anything you need, from clothing to gold to tonight’s dessert. And since women are the primary shoppers, much of the merchandise is designed to catch their eye. In a Muslim country, where women are expected to dress very conservatively, a headscarf is one of the places where they can express themselves.


We aren’t sure if these robes are formal wear or something for the bedroom, but the matching hats really work.


We’ve always thought that sand art was strictly a tourist purchase, but this sand bottle artist was making a custom piece for a local couple. These guys may really be magicians, because we still aren’t sure how they do it.


On Main Street (actually called Alhashemi Street) things are a bit more practical. Water pipes called “nargileh” are popular in Amman, and there are cafes devoted to coffee and smoking your hookahs. These new pipes and colorful hoses were a hot item at this store.


We posted from Athens on church supplies, and how we’d never thought about where these items come from. Then on our walk today, we spotted a store that sells stainless steel crescent tops for the minarets of mosques.


After our grueling day of window shopping we needed nourishment, and ended up at the popular Hashem Restaurant, a wonderful hole-in-the-wall place that serves the best falafel, hummus, and tea. It is a dive in the strictest sense. In the photo, you will notice the absence of silverware, napkins, and plates. We’re talking fingers only … but oh how delicious.

Happy Trails,
James and Terri

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We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

28 thoughts

  1. How fascinating. Thank you so much for the tour, Terri! So much you appreciate other culture, you might like to view my most recent post if you have a few minutes.

    1. Jordan is absolutely a fascinating place. After living in Sudan, I was particularly intrigued by their water management programs. How are you enjoying Oman, another fascinating desert country? ~Terri

      1. I really enjoy Oman, except for the heat. I prefer Jordan’s climate as they actually have 4 distinct seasons. In Oman, it’s just hot and hotter. I’ve really enjoyed my time here, but I will be leaving on June 26. I look forward to returning home. 🙂

    1. Great question Lisa! I don’t know the answer. It was the same when we lived in the Sahara Desert in Khartoum, Sudan. Muted surroundings, but all baskets and fabrics were vibrant. ~Terri

  2. Arabic food is by far the best I’ve ever had. I love trying out restaurants in Amman, yummy. There’s a place where you can actually make your own sand-in-a-bottle-thingy, I forgot the name but I want to check it out when the weather isn’t so chilly.

    1. Thanks for the comment Tasneem, and for dropping by the blog. We really enjoyed our visit to Amman, and we liked the Hashem Restaurant so much, we ate there twice. It was cold, but we just bundled up, drank our hot tea, and had their great food.

      1. Pleasure 🙂 Winter’s can be really harsh here. Have you ever tried sahlab? It’s a hot drink that’s pretty popular, especially during the cold months.

      2. Milk, starch from some orchid but generally people use cornstarch, water, vanilla, a bit of cinnamon and some coconut flakes. It’s quite thick as well. When you get a chance you should try it, but everyone makes it a bit different. x

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. Petra had been on our bucket list for years, and we’re so glad that we finally made it. Everyone should see it at least once. We lived in Khartoum, Sudan for a couple of years, so our stay in Amman brought back lots of memories. ~James

  3. James and Terri, I’m writing a post that offers a Virtual Vacation to Jordan since my own trip to build a Habitat house this week in Amman was cancelled. Would you grant me permission to link to this post and also to use the headscarf photo in my post (with credit to you)?

    1. Rusha, we’re not only happy for you to link to our post and use the photo, we’re flattered that you’d think of us. Please feel free to use what you want. We’ll look forward to reading the post. ~James

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