Monday, 8 February 2010

Panic?? No... No need to panic when driving in Amman!!

I have to admit this was the one thing I wasn't sure about! Well to be honest once you have understood the Jordanian "rules", it's not that bad... I was very reassured when I was told by the doorman at the hotel that there is a very big fine if they don't stop for the red light, so the drivers tend to respect it!... Ok let's be honest it's a bit messy, driving in roundabouts (and there are many of those) is not for the fearful, you have to take care when arriving at an orange light, somebody might hit the horn behind you as if the driver wanted to say  "don't you dare stopping"!! and then there are nearly no road signs (or road map) in Amman. But apart from that driving here is no worse than... Rome?? So I couldn't really answer "yes" to my mum when she asked me if they were driving nicely!

I don't know what is the most daunting the missing signs or the taxi drivers? But then taxi drivers are the main problem in all big cities - no offence! But come on,  it is true, they think the road belong to them. So it has to be the signs or more the lack of signs or road map! So in order to find a place, I would give the name of a landmark and then explain from there - it sounds a bit odd but it works: I had to take Bibs to the paediatrician and she told me: "go to the Palestinian Embassy, then take the small alley and I am at number x of the street".  I told the taxi driver at it worked! Amazing. Ok taxi drivers... we have only had good experiences, but then the drivers are attached to the hotel, so they better behave :) But many I have met have told me not to take taxis, especially with a baby - they smoke in their cars and are driving really fast apparently. There are 3 different types - the white ones, which you share with other passengers, yellow ones which you can also stop in the street and than there are companies like "Merz Taxi", which are more "upscale" and apparently better. Taking a taxi doesn't cost much, they work on meters (except at night), just make sure to have the right amount as they don't have change. I think you should be able to go where ever you want in Amman for less than 5JD - more is a rip off. At night time it is usual to agree on the rate before starting the journey. Oh one more thing about taxis - and this is for everybody really! - they tend to stop everywhere and nowhere, they don't really care if there are cars behind them, so be always prepared to hit the breaks!

Another interesting thing about driving in Amman is U turns. You might remember on our first drive we got a bit lost (and have been lost since as well!) but no panic... cause you can always make a u turn somewhere! So if you miss your exit - because of the lack of sign:) - you know that further down the road there is either a roundabout or a traffic light where you can make a U turn. Now roundabouts are an exciting feature in Amman's traffic jungle - every time I come to circle or a smaller roundabout I wonder why we are stuck. The same signs and the same rules exist - except we are in Jordan, so it doesn't really work that way. This is the time you want to close your eyes and just go for it! They seem to be willing to wait when they arrive at the roundabouts and then they get fed up and just drive, so this is a guaranteed mess when it is busy.

All in all am loving it! Would be perfect if I had eyes in the back & coming out of the ears as well...

I'll add a picture of a messy roundabout as soon as I have one! It won't take much time, I have a very busy circle just outside the hotel.

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