Tuesday, 31 January 2012

My missing shopping bag

Have you ever wondered what happens if one of your bags goes missing at the supermarket? Well today I found out.

Weekly shopping at Cozmo today - I really go less and less to that shop, mainly because I find going to Spinneys much more convenient and it's closer to home. Today however I decided to go because I wanted to buy some of the Cow Gate cereals for Bobsy - I didn't get any because they were all expired, hmmm expired baby food? - well anyway, I get to the check out and one of the guys help me and empties the cart and for once actually listens to me when I tell him food items first. Another guy packs my shopping, with too many plastic bags, as usual, and he laughs because I repack after him and I give him some empty bags back.

With all this I forget a bag. Of all bags it had to be the baby wipes - nearly 9 JD worth of baby wipes - I know a bloody rip off. So I get home and realise that the bag is missing. I need the things so drive all the way back to Cozmo, not really believing that I will get my wipes without paying for them again.

Well, I was wrong. I go to the "customer services" counter and tell the guy behind it my little story about my missing bag, showing him my receipt. Surprise, surprise... out comes a big black notebook, he looks under today's date and says "yes madam we have them". I was stunned. Seriously, I was so surprised. Jordanian efficiency? Something new.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Queen Alia Airport: Top 10 worst airports

I was not even half surprised when I read this article about the world's 10 worse airports and that Amman International Airport was also on the list.

The article talks about a few things, including the un-cleanliness of the toilets. I haven't even tried the toilets and it's still one of the worse airports I have been through. The current terminals are ugly and dark. A new terminal is in construction - by ADP (Aeroport de Paris), let's hope they make a better job than with Charles-de-Gaule, Paris' main international airport... funny enough that airport is also to be found on "the list".

Well arriving to Amman is kind of ok. You spent some time queuing, but then you do that everywhere. You queue for the visa (20JD), you queue for the passport control. When you are done with that you enter a horrible lounge to pick up your luggage. Porters are easy to find. One luggage scan and you are allowed out of the place. However,  if your luggage is not there, then the fun starts, in a country where nobody knows how to queue. It happened to me once when I came on a connecting flight over Istanbul, with a very tired then under-one-year old Bibs. Not funny. There was about 100 people squeezed into a little space behind one of the belts trying to get the attention of one of the 2 agents sitting behind a counter... who didn't speak english. So imagine me, Bibs in a stroller, climbing over bags and people to get into this tiny space and trying to explain to the guy that I actually don't have a clue what my luggage looks like: Black or grey? the brand? my name on there? Yes maybe. Surprisingly enough it only took 2 days for the luggages to appear again.

But the true side of Queen Alia Airport, you see it when you leave Jordan. Once you have demonstrated to the customs guy that you are willingly walking into the airport (by showing him the flight tickets and passport), you need to have your luggage scanned. 2 or 3 belts and lots of people and lots of luggage: a few tourists, but mainly Jordanian or people from the gulf who again have no idea what queuing means. They arrive with 10 supersize luggages and just jump the queue. I don't know if they actually don't understand the concept of queueing or they just think you won't realise. I tell you it takes time and patience. A lot of patience and a bit of shoulder fighting. The ladies lane is a bit better but really not much. So through with all your luggage, your are trying to get to it. Remember the guy who jumped the queue with his 10 supersize pieces of luggage? well he is nowhere to be seen but all the suitcases are actually blocking the belt. Finally, you manage to get to the check-in counter.

Then you have to queue again: for the passport control. You have those who are standing nicely in the lanes, having no choice really and then those who are trying to discuss their way through the diplomatic lane (even though they are not much more of a diplomate than I am). It takes a good 20 minutes. They check that you haven't over stayed your visa (if you have, don't worry they will let you out - you just need to pay 1.5JD /day). Once you are done, you think it's over.

You arrive to the duty free shop which is one of the most boring ones i have been in, unless you are after really cheap cigarettes or dates. Then you need to find a counter at which you can actually pay - some are open but have no change, some are open but the cashier is busy arguing about this or that with a colleague. You can also get magazines and a little food and that's it.

Then you need to find the gate. You thought the scanning was over and done with! But no, you need to scan all the hand luggage, one more time. Once you are through there is no coming back, and beware there is not a shop, you can't even get a bottle of water. And it's depressing. Dark and gloomy with even lower ceilings - or so it feels.

A little bit more "non"-queueing and finally you are in that plane and you are happy, because it takes you away from Amman Airport.

I am maybe exaggerating a bit, but not much! There are so many things in Amman more enjoyable than the airport.  

Sunday, 29 January 2012

More about our new bins

If you read my first post about Amman's new bins (click here to have a look), you might remember I mentioned the street cats.

Well, today I saw with great relief that our street cats have accepted the new bins.

They don't look that bothered, do they? By that strange woman taking pictures of them...

A piece of cake

A year ago I had to drive all the way to City Mall to get some cake from Paul's. But that changed around Ramadan last year - some guy had the brilliant idea to open a shop in Abdoun. Life changed.

I'll go and take pics one day of the actual cafe in Abdoun, but I couldn't resist sharing today's cakes. I didn't eat them all by myself and even kept de coffee eclair for Bobs. Maybe he would have preferred the mille-feuille, but that one was too good looking! And as we say in French, absentees are also wrong!

Above... Strawberry tart, raspberry tart, lemon tart (definitely one of my favourites), banana and chocolate cake (for the kiddies, but the mummies loved it as well), strawberry mille-feuilles and the coffee eclair. Which one do you prefer?!

If you want to indulge, looking for some comfort, or simply have a sweet tooth like me and any occasion is  good for cake-time  (today lunch with a couple of mummy-friends) go to Paul. In my opnion, their pastries are the best in town. 

And because Bobs is still not home, I might just go and suck out a bit of cream of that coffee eclair! 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The donkey-man

In West Amman, we have...

... nice cars...
... and huge houses...
large hotels...
Sheraton Hotel
Then we have sheep and goats...

...and also the Donkey-man.
thx my norwegian friend for this pic :)
I love the contrasts of Amman.

Friday, 27 January 2012

on a cold cold friday...

... today has been a very. very. cold day in Amman. How cold I don't know because I actually haven't been outside. It started with wind, lots and lots of it. More and more clouds came and the rain came, lots and lots of it. We stayed at home.

I started my day with a good cup of coffee and the Jordan Times, while the rest of the house was still asleep. There were a couple of interesting articles. One about Jordanian Politics, this one about water conservation (it made me smile) and an other one about press freedom in the Kingdom, among others.

Then as the weather went from bad (wind) to worse (rain), I cut vegetables, I steamed vegetables and I pureed vegetables for my ever hungry growing Bobsy. And now it is dark and still wet outside I decided to brighten my mood with some holiday pictures. I love holiday pictures on such a day... and of course they are from Mauritius! I needed some pictures that reminded me of summer.

Beach - I love this panoramic feature on my new camera... a Sony nex-5
end of the day...
Sunset and the fisherman finishing his day
and the night pics as well... without a tripod! 

I can't wait for spring to arrive. I know that we need water in Jordan and it's good that it is raining - but I miss the sun already! 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

New bins in Amman

Look at that! Brand new green bins, with a lit to close them and the Amman Municipality Logo on and the whole lot!

At the beginning of my street I was wondering what was going on... 8 men were taking the old metal bins away - yes 8. But then they are heavy I suppose, especialy if they don't empty the bins first... I really wanted to take a picture but there was this car behind me... Then I saw one of the street cats looking bemused on the bins where it usually looks for its food and I understood: an old and a new one!

Let's hope the new bins look new for a while... I mean have they also invested in the lorries that go with them?!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A little post about medical

So came then day when I got mastitis. Am breastfeeding Bobsy and it just came out of the blue! For those who don't know what mastitis is, it's a breast infection and to say it hurts is an understatement. I am not the kind of person who runs to the doc because of a cough or a fever - but this time there was simply no way around it. And let's say it as it is: as long as you pay (or your insurance does) there is no problem and they are very thorough.

There is a street between 4th and 3rd circles: it's a doctor's street. Only doctors, hospitals, clinics of all kinds. and it's a long street! So I got an appointment with a general physician and off I went to the dreaded doctor. There is a reason why I don't go to doctors: I don't like them. I don't like them and their white overall. He was ok though - there was only a doctor part. Either he forgot the white thing at home or he doesn't like it either.

And this is what happens when you go private here: the doctor checks on you and then picks up the phone to his very good acquaintance who happens to be the head of the x-ray department of the hospital within walking distance. I get to the hospital, find the x-ray department and the receptionist that goes with it, wait for a little while and get to register, pay 30JD at the "accounting department", also called a cashier, and the head of the x-ray department is already waiting for me.

All in all I spent maybe 30 minutes at the hospital and that includes a good 5 minutes in finding the right department, at least 5 minutes to pay at the cashier and 10 minutes at the pharmacy to get the antibiotics. And this is good, because if there is one thing I dislike even more than doctors: it's hospitals. And dentists, but that's another story.

I have had a couple of other experiences with hospitals here in Jordan and it has been like that: very effective really. That is if you pay and go to the right doctors. Of course. I wonder how long one should wait in Europe to get an x-ray done at a hospital.

They can get a little overzealous as well: the doctor wanted me to get intravenous antibiotics. I told him that I was sure the oral ones were fine!

Another example is the kids' paediatrician. When I went to the hospital to give birth I was asked who my paediatrician was. I gave the name and I was so surprised when I saw her 2 hours after Bobsy was born for a complete check up. If you don't have one, of course the hospital do the check ups, but otherwise your own one comes. She came twice in 24 hours (because I am a bit hardcore and left the hospital the day after) - so she came the next day just to see him. Of course you pay for all this, but it's not that expensive. I think we paid her 70JD for both visits and the second visit was friday morning, so technically her weekend day. I have her mobile number and can call her 24/7. That kind of service simply does not exist in Europe in my experience, even if you pay for it.

Jordan is trying to become (or is becoming?) a medical tourism destination and I think it probably has the best medical in the region. People are coming from neighbouring countries to Jordan. The prices are very competitive compared to Europe and the service really much much better. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Very dull day in Amman!

Look at that weather...

I took the photos from the taxi! By the way why do I Always get a driver who smokes on rainy days??!

The Sheraton Amman, 5th Circle
A little more visible
Four Seasons Hotel Amman hidden in the clouds 

And with this weather I discovered something missing on our car. Well I thought it wasn't optional really: fog lights! We have no fog lights on our car.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

IWAA - International Women's Association Amman

The IWAA, The International Women's Association Amman will hold its first meeting at the Sheraton Hotel (5th Circle) on thursday 2nd February at 10am and after that on every first thursday of the month.

"The aim of the IWAA is to provide a connection point for new comers to the city with emphasis on those ladies that may only be here for a short time, to enable them to integrate into their new lives as quickly as possible, through meeting people, being able to access information and join established groups and activities.  IWAA meetings will be on every first Thursday of the month, and will provide a venue for women to meet and network, connecting with friends new and old, and join activities and events that they find interesting" says Sue, the founder of IWAA. The Facebook page is up an running already, IWAA Facebook.

The first guest speaker is Jane Taylor, famous photographer and writer. Jane has lived in Jordan since 1989 and has recently published her 5th book on Jordan: "Beyond the Jordan".

I am really excited about this association. I found it a bit difficult to find my way around town when I first arrived in Amman and if it hadn't been for the Danish Embassy and one of its staff I wouldn't have settled in so fast or so well: that's why I created this blog to start with - after that I discovered that I actually liked blogging, but that's something else... So yes very excited indeed, because I feel there is a real need for this association. 

IWAA   International Women’s Association Amman

The International Women’s Association Amman cordially invites you to the first monthly meeting on

Thursday 2nd February 2012
The Sheraton Hotel
from 10am

 Guest Speaker:  Jane Taylor 
 "Flying on the wings of the wind... dancing on the earth". 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Waffles and Art in Jabal Amman

This afternoon I met with a couple of friends and their kiddies - first we went for waffles, then for a little bit of art.

For the waffles we went to Wild Jordan - I have already mentioned this place in my blog - I think it was the first cafe I went to when we first arrived. Well in 2 years it hasn't changed one bit. The view is still as amazing, the little shop full of great present ideas (for others or yourself!) and the cafe full of goodies!

Outside Wild Jordan
View from the terrace over downtown Amman and the Citadel (I really like this pic!) 
Bibs' waffle - Well Bibs had the ice cream and I had the waffle 

And some pics from the shop... Lots of jewellery, decoration items, soaps and a few items for the kitchen, puzzles or teas - the best: a little bit for each purse.

We then walked a little bit up the street to Nabad gallery. I forgot to write down the opening hours, but it closes for lunch and then is supposed to open at 3.30 to 7pm. I say suppose because we went at 3.30 but it was still closed... so went for the waffles instead.  I am sure I had a picture of the entrance some where but I can't find it. But the doors open on a lovely small courtyard, with orange, pomelos and lemon trees. Bibs and her friends loved running around out there.

Until the 8th of February there is an exhibition named The Tenth Maqama - Paper, Clay & Memory IV - by Mahmoud Taha.

I found the exposition really interesting. A couple of examples of his work. 

On the gallery's facebook page you can be kept up to date with the current and future expositions and the gallery also offers drawing and painting classes.

Update: an article in Jordan Times about the artist's work (29/01/12) - http://jordantimes.com/reflections-of-the-palestinian-quest-for-freedom

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A visit to the flower market in Amman

One day a friend asked me if I had been to the flower market in shmeisani. A flower market? in Amman? Where? I have been buying my flowers of the street and have always found that it was actually quite cheap and fairly good quality depending on what you buy; we went this morning and it is like a small heaven, well if you are into fresh flowers obviously!

It is located on the continuation of Wadi Saqra going into shmeisani, behind the sixt rent a car - probably 200-300m up the road (it's on my map and the link at the bottom of the page).

Outside the market 

Man arriving with fresh flowers

Opposite the entrance to the market there is a small shop where they sell vases and baskets, ribbons and a small (tiny tiny) selection of cards. There are also other things, quite indescribable... Vases cost 5JD, baskets 7JD. 

Vases and baskets
Bric-a-Brac, as we say in French

The small cards... 
The much larger ribbon selection 
You enter the hall and lots of different vendors selling mainly to flower shops and other professionals, but you don't need to be in bulk, one bunch at one stall and one at an other is fine as well. Then you walk around and ask for the prices. Today a bunch of lilies was sold for 5JD, gerberas for 3JD, roses from 3JD for second class to 12JD the bunch imported from South America.

Once you have decided on what you want from one vendor you can leave your flowers on the floor in front of the stall, it means they are "sold".

When you need to pay you get a receipt from each stall from where you have taken some flowers - for most of them you pay at the central cashier and they hand you a receipt. I think a couple of them you pay direct - but you should always get a receipt as it is needed when you exit for one last stamp! Even at the flower market you can feel the Jordanian bureaucracy! One think I forgot to ask about are the opening hours; i know it is closed on fridays - a part from that, we went at 9am and lots of flowers were still coming in. Well ask about it next time I go. 

The central cashier in the middle of the hall and to the right the men with the last stamp...
The bill (and the stamps!)

some more pictures from the market

And my flowers at home. I love fresh flowers and I think that we will have some more often now!

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