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What Your Gym Won’t Tell You January 7, 2007

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Sports & Fitness.
20 comments

 Fitness

With the start of a new year, scores of people have flocked to sign up with Amman’s newest, biggest, and most talked about fitness club – VY Life Gym.

Each new year brings with it numerous New Year resolutions, the most common of which involve joining a gym or fitness club.  While many have already signed up with their local fitness clubs, for those well-intentioned souls who plan to stick to their New Year’s resolutions but have have yet to join a gym, here are a few fundamental issues one should consider prior to becoming a member:

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Philly’s Best…In Amman December 20, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Food.
10 comments

Thinly shaved rib-eye or USDA beef; a blanket of melted American, Provolone or “Cheez whiz” cheese; a mixture of sautéed onions, green peppers, and mushrooms; all sandwiched in a freshly baked Italian role.

The authentic Philly Cheese Steak sandwich can only be found in Philadelphia.  A regular Philadelphia debate is which of the oldest Philly Cheese Steak shops in the city is the best:  Pat’s, Gino’s, or Jim’s? 

I actually had the pleasure of trying an authentic Philly Cheese Steak at Pat’s while I was in Philadelphia back in 1999.  Absolutely incredible!!  I can honestly say that I haven’t had a Philly Steak since then that comes close to Pats’ perfection. 

But as you are aware, living in Amman, one has to learn to appreciate what is available.  I applaud the attempts of certain restaurants in Amman that manage to concoct some quite tasty Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches. After a tumultuous journey, in an effort to find the best Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches in town, the following restaurants have made it onto my Top 5 list.  And they are: 

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5.  Casper & Gambini’s (They need to do away with the tomato sauce and add more onions, green peppers and mushrooms)

4.  Urban Grill (Not bad at all. A bit too greasy for my liking – and I am someone who loves greasy food)

3.  Nara (Very good sandwich. The bread they use is always fresh)

2.  Houston’s (Very tasty…They should consider using American or Provolone cheese rather than Mozzarella)

1.  Champions (Simply Delicious! The only place in town that actually thinly shaves the beef, rather than slicing it in strips)

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Picnic By The Bridge December 15, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
7 comments

I decided to take a relaxing Friday afternoon drive and maybe even get a glimpse of the recently inaugurated Wadi Abdoun Suspension Bridge in braod daylight.

What a crazy sight it was!!  Dozens of cars parked alongside the bridge, people snapping group photos, children playing, families taking a stroll along the small pathway…it won’t be long before they start bringing grills for a BBQ by the bridge!!

For a Friday afternoon, when the streets of Amman are usually empty, Jordan’s new landmark was packed with pedestrians and inconsiderate motorists who caused traffic by literally parking ON the bridge, completely blocking off one of only two lanes.  They would then jump over the large concrete railings to get to the pathway for a cigarette or photo, then jump back over to get into their cars.  Frickin’ insane!!!

I completely understand the excitement and the curiosity.  Amman residents have waited almost 4 years for the bridge to be completed.  Nevertheless, it’s a bridge people…not a damn amusement park! 

Official: Abdoun Bridge Open To Motorists December 14, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
8 comments

On my way back from work this evening, driving towards the 4th Circle from Shmeisani, I noticed the detour sign blocking entry into the tunnel leading to the Abdoun Suspension Bridge, was removed.  So, I decided to drive through…

I had no idea what to expect.  The tunnel curved slightly to the left, and as I drove out of the tunnel, a beautifully lit bridge appeared before me.  Wow!

I drove across the bridge, then through the tunnel underneath Abdoun Circle.  I made a u-turn at Starbucks and Blue Fig and went back along the same route.  The bridge is quite a sight!  Click the link below to see a few of the pictures I took with my phone.

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The Rebirth Of A Circle December 13, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
1 comment so far

Mood:  Pleased 

No more detours, no more dust, no more construction, and no more traffic.   

I would like to genuinely applaud and commend the planners, designers, developers and implementers of the ‘new’ 4th Circle.  It is evident that the designers and planners diligently studied traffic and congestion routes prior to laying the groundwork. 

 Some may think I am being sarcastic with my praises.  Although sarcasm comprises a large part of my character, this time, my praises are sincere.  I am truly pleased with the design of the 4th Circle tunnels and the round-about itself. 

The 4th to 3rd Circle tunnel is wide (two clearly laid out lanes), unlike the 5th Circle tunnel.  The planners solved the 4th Circle – Shmeisani – Duwwar El Dakhiliyah traffic with a convenient yet dodgy exit within the tunnel, which merges with the Abdoun Suspension Bridge traffic going in the same direction.  So, while going to work in the morning, rather than stopping at the round-about and making a left towards Shmeisani, I simply drive under the bridge and curve into Queen Noor Street. Quite nifty… 

I’m thrilled to say that my drive to work now only takes 4 minutes…with traffic!!  I timed myself this morning.  It might take an extra few seconds when the Abdoun Suspension Bridge opens and I have to carefully merge into the traffic coming from that direction.   

The round-about itself looks very modern and well organized.  Rather than erect a weird looking structure (like that of the 7th Circle), or an over-exaggerated fountain with no water, the 4th Circle sports a simple, neat, and contemporary design.

In a nutshell, I feel the urban planners responsible for resolving the chaotic and congested 4th Circle area, have done so in a thorough and efficient manner.  Hats off.

10% “Selfish” Charge December 10, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Food.
3 comments

Mood:  Infuriated 

I’m sure many of you have ordered home delivery through Aramex@home or Sabeel or some other home delivery service.  Do you always check the bill accurately?  If not, I suggest you do. 

I’ve only recently noticed that certain restaurants are charging an obligatory 10% service charge despite the fact that your order is take-out.  I fully accept and understand the mandatory 10% service charge added to my bill when I actually dine in the restaurant itself.  But when it comes to take-out or home delivery, what “service” has the restaurant provided me with (other than preparing my food, which I’m paying for)? I am paying the delivery service, whether it be Aramex or Sabeel, a fee for actually delivering the food, but I should not have to pay the restaurant a 10% service charge!!! What for?!

Last week, I was craving Champions’ delicious, tasty, and almost authentic Philly Cheese Steak sandwich.  So, I called them up and made the order.  Seeing how close Champions is to my office, we decided to pick up the food rather than have have one of the delivery services do so.  We easily save a good 30-minutes by doing it picking the food up ourselves.  Anyway, when my colleague returned with the food, I took a look at the bill too see how much I owed.  I couldn’t help but notice that a 10% service charge was added to the bill.  We are the ones who picked up the food!!  Champions should PAY US the bloody 10%!!!

Anyhow, I phoned Champions and asked the man who picked up why we were charged an additional 10% service charge to our bill when we had received no service whatsoever.  As expected, there is always someone higher up on the chain you have to speak to, so I was transferred to the “Manager”.  I asked the manager the same question and his simple, straight-forward answer was:  “restaurant policy”.  However, I wanted to understand why it was restaurant policy.  Why would a restaurant risk pissing off its customers by adding a service charge on take-out orders?  Well, I never got an answer, an explanation, or an apology. The manager simply defended and justified this sneaky, immoral, and deceitful act by calling it “restaurant policy”.  Policy my ass!  If a policy is going to make you lose customers, then you change it.  We were seven people that had ordered from Champions, and each swore not to order take-out from Champions again.  Their loss not ours.  Screw the 10%!  It’s a matter of principle.  The restaurant made 10% on a 70 JD bill by doing zilch!!

*Now don’t get me wrong, this incident will in no way stop me from going to Champions and enjoying the best Philly Cheese Steak this country has to offer*

Another restaurant I know that pulls a similar stunt is Shaman.   The same thing happened over a year ago and I haven’t ordered take-out from them since.  Something for all of you to think about next time you order take-out or home-delivery. 

Welcome To Queen Alia International Airport October 31, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Chatter, Jordan.
7 comments

Queen Alia International Airport Sign 

There is only one thing I hate about travelling.  No, its not fear of planes; its not worrying about losing my luggage; its not even the extremely heightened airport security at almost every airport in the world.  The one thing I hate about travelling is Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport. 

Departing from QUALIA is not as bad as arriving.  Sadly enough, every foriegner arriving in the counrty for the very first time will no doubtedly shape a horrible impression of Jordan.

Let’s put the actual airline, Royal Jordanian, aside for a second.  I won’t go into the poor shape of the planes; the dirty seats, the broken headphone units, and the discoloured screens.  Neither will I mention the constant delays and shitty check-in and on-board service.  Let’s focus on the airport itself for now…

Firstly, as soon as you arrive and walk up to immigration, you see eight empty counters and only two operational ones.  Once they realize that the plane is full, or that another flight has just arrived, they start calling in the reserves.  So, after waiting in line for about 20 minutes, the people in the back of the line run towards to the newly opened counters leaving you stuck to wait it out.  As soon as you get to the counter, there is always some new technological security system they are implementing.  So they either take your picture with a web-cam, or they scan your fingerprints.  Mark my word, in a year or so, they’ll implement a retina scan system, realize its an absurd idea and that it malfunctions all the time, then go back to the regular finger-printing and photo-taking systems which they will have to start all over again.  Typical!

Once you pass immigration, you are greeted by another man, just by the escalator, who’s job is to check that your passport has been stamped.  Talk about hidden unemployment!  Where else in the world do they have a passport stamp-checking man who does no more than create a bottle-neck right by the single small escalator leading to baggage claim?  Completely nonsense!

Then you have the infamous QUALIA baggage claim.  Two baggage carousels dating back to the stone age.  Its either one or the other.  Many a time have I stood long enough at one carousel that clearly shows my flight number and departing city on the monitor, but for some reason, we are all moved to the other carousel.  Anyway, the carousel starts moving and the bags start falling.  Either the baggage handlers pull off all the bags as soon as they come out and pile them next to each other on the floor, or they leave the bags to fall off and sit back watching.  Either way, you’re going to have a horrible time collecting your luggage.  Pure frustration!

And finally, some hot shot at the airport came up with the brilliant idea of buying and installing three baggage X-ray machines of which only one is functioning.  So basically, once you collect your luggage, after a frustrating wait or search, and load them onto your trolley, you have to unload them once again on this X-ray machine where other travellers are coming at you with their trolleys from every direction, which creates yet another bottle neck.  Aaaaaaaaaaagh!

By the time you’re walking out of the airport, almost 45-minutes to an hour have passed whereas the whole process  could have taken 20-30 minutes.  You’re just happy to be getting into your car and heading home.  In fact you’re so happy, the 50 men running up to you asking you if you need a taxi doesn’t bother you one bit. 

Am I the only one who notices all these inefficiencies with our airport?  Do they not have intelligent, able-minded people running the airport who see these inefficiencies and work to fix them?  Isn’t it Jordan’s aim to attract as much foreign investment and tourism as possible?  Well then…you know what they say:  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

QUALIA 1970s

Jordan’s Golden Gate Bridge August 27, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Jordan.
7 comments

 

Note:  The picture above is dated 2 March 2006 and is copyrighted material by the photographer Kurt Feller.

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Some call it the most spectacular construction site in Amman; others call it a monstrous disaster.  Some think of it as Jordan’s modern landmark; others think of it as an unnecessary waste of government funds.  Some think it will solve traffic congestion problems in Amman, while others disagree completely.

Whether you are driving under it or along side of it (on one of the many detour roads), you can see that the Wadi Abdoun Suspension Bridge looks almost complete.  All that is left is a small gap where the final piece should fit like a puzzle and voila!…You have Jordan’s Golden Gate Bridge; without the water of course.  The bridge, however, will not be ready to welcome our diesel infested cars (that’s another topic all together) until the 4th circle tunnel and Abdoun circle tunnel are complete.

Amman residents who suffered the most from the detours and the horrible traffic, have questioned the viability of the project.  Many of them don’t really think the bridge was necessary.  The 417 meter long bridge actually passes straight through some residential areas.  The construction of the tunnel under Abdoun circle has caused a huge loss in profits for many of the stores and restaurants in the area; especially for the summer season during which Abdoun circle is packed with people wanting to spend.

With only a few months left until the completion of the entire project, Amman residents anxiously wait to be proven right or wrong.  Either way, I can guarantee that the next postcard you receive from Jordan will have the Wadi Abdoun Suspension Bridge on the front.  Step aside Le Royal…..Abdoun Bridge is taking over!! 😀

*UPDATE* The Wadi Abdoun Suspension Bridge is now complete and open to the public.

With Cheese… August 26, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Amman, Food.
10 comments

 Wimpy

Anyone that knows me, knows that I could easily eat a burger everyday of the week.  I have a favourite burger joint in every city i’ve ever lived in; from Los Angeles to New Orleans, and from London to Dubai.

After having been back in Amman for five years.  I’ve tried so many different burgers that I feel I should publish a short Top 5 list of Amman’s Best Burgers.  Now, Amman is not really famous for its great, juicy, tasty burgers.  However, there are a few places here that manage to put together some delicious burgers.

Below are my Top 5 burgers in Amman:

Burger

5)  Living Room – Mozza Burger

4)  Champions – The Champions Burger

3)  Four Seasons (The Foyer) – The Four Seasons Burger (w/ cheese)

2)  Houston’s – Mushroom, Cheese & Onion Burger

1)  Whispers – Spicy Mushroom and Cheese Burger

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Next week:  My Top 5 Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches 🙂