Half as Old as Time

Good Vibes All Around
Friday 3rd March 2023


It was a strange feeling waking up in an airport hotel at 3:30am and not having to jump out of bed and leave. Instead all I had to do was flush the toilet and go back to sleep. We had no rush this morning as our flight wasn't until 3pm!

Eventually we woke up, later than usual a home. We spent the morning watching Jordanian day-time television which was perfect to get us into that Levantine mood!

The Levant of course describes a region of the Middle East not best known for its safety and security. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, are all troubled countries but Jordan stands out as a beacon of stability in the middle of it all.

It was strange how I chanced upon Jordanian TV scrolling through the satellite channels. I'd never seen it before and I suspect I will never see it again. 

After the luxury of a lazy morning we went down to breakfast. We were staying at the Hilton Terminal 5, although calling it "terminal 5" was stretching the truth a bit. It was in the town of Coinbrook and would probably taken us an hour to walk to the airport!

At at least they put on a good spread. The best part of breakfast was their pancake making machine! We were literally like children, so excited to use this Willy Wonka style contraption!

You pressed the OK button, which deposited batter onto a heated conveyor belt that slowly moved it along, passing beneath hot grills transforming the batter into a perfectly cooked Scotch pancake before dropping it onto your plate. I was so amazed by it I even videoed the whole process, much to the amusement of the staff.

We had an hour or so relaxing in the room before catching the Hoppa Bus to the airport. They were surprisingly infrequent, only one every hour. So we were sat down in reception in plenty of time to catch the 10:45am.

We headed straight to the self-serve check-in kiosk, but as we were going to Jordan a real person had to inspect our proof of Jordanian Advanced Passenger clearance, despite having  QR code that could have been machine scanned.

We dropped our bags onto the conveyor belt.

"God, I hope we see you later" said Julie remembering the inconvenience of British Airways loosing one of our bags on our trip to Egypt last year.

With our luggage dropped, we waltzed through the security checks with the minimal of fuss and headed for Fortnum & Mason. 

Along the way we had an unscheduled stop at Tiffany & Co to have a look at a ring that Julie fell in love with last year.  It was a stunning five row diamond ring with an £8,250 price tag!  An increased of 10% since March 2022.

The staff were wonderful and allowed her to try it on for size."One day" she said "I will buy it, one day"

When we arrived at Fortnum & Mason there were no seats available, so we continued to The Pilots Bar, perching ourselves on two bar stools. We ordered only drinks because we were still hoping for lunch at F&M.

It was technically still "brunch" so I asked for a Bloody Mary whilst Julie stuck to her airport tipple with a glass of fizz.

After we had broke the alcohol seal we returned to Fortnum & Mason but still there was no room. To kill time we decided to get our duty free shopping done, two bottles of champagne, a large Tolberone chocolate and non-specific perfume.

Julie had seen a fragrance called Cherry Smoke by Tom Ford advertised everywhere and we naturally went to have a look. We had a few squirts and it smelt good but when we saw the price tag of £159, we quickly had a few extra squirts and carefully put the tester bottle back.

Having walked the entire length of Terminal 5 in a cloud of cherry smoke we decided to give Fortnum & Mason one final try and this time we were in luck. Although the only chairs available were the low chairs. With everyone else sat up high on bar stools we felt like we were in economy class in a first class lounge.

Nonetheless we ordered a carafe of Pouilly-Fume and a portion of their Welsh Rarebit to share. Whilst the wine was divine their cheese toastie was not a rarebit! Despite this technicality, it tasted nice

By the time we finished eating, which didn't take long,  our gate number appeared.

It wasn't far away, situated right in the centre of the terminal.  Our scheduled departure time came and went. The delay was not good for Julie. Her Dutch courage was fading fast and her fears and tears were welling up.  It was the worst I had seen her for a while. 

Fortunately the delay was only half an hour. I don't think she could have lasted much longer.

We set off in near perfect weather, a complete contrast to last year's storm Arwen, and our emergency landing back in Heathrow. Feeling more relaxed Julie settled into the flight enough to enjoy the sunset views over the Alps. 

She continued to top up her courage as we both had a half bottle of Champagne each, paid for by using our Avios points. It was nice to have something for nothing.

We tried unsuccessfully to get some sleep, which was probably a good thing. Staying awake until we reached our hotel would benefit us later.

After five hours we eventually reached Amman where the sight of the city's street lights below in the dark of the night had us utterly amazed.

The plane turned South, into darkness and towards Queen Alila airport. Where we landed smoothly precisely on time at 23:15 local time.

Our first task was to queue and get our entry visa. It cost 40 Jordanian Dinars, (JOD) each which we paid in cash. Whilst in the queue we got chatting to a couple of other couples. One were also on an Intrepid trip, but thankfully not ours, becuase they were very dissmissive of us. I don't think they were in a happy place.

Another couple were young and very chatty. He was terribly English and despite her Amerianised accent she was Spanish/German. She had a Palestinian friend who they were visiting in Amman.

Moving on to Baggage Reclaim we were relieved to see both our rucksacks rolling out towards us on the conveyor belt. Wth good vibes all round we headed for the exit.

Waiting for us was meant to be a transfer to the hotel but we didn't see anyone holding up our names. There was a contingency plan which was to find the transport company's desk. Along the way we bumped into an Intrepid tour rep. They don't usually meet people off the plane but he was here for a cycling tour group.

Anyway, he sorted us out and we were united with our taxi driver. 

It had gone midnight by now but you wouldn't have thought it by the amount of traffic on the road. We even got caught in a bit of conjestion! The journey to our city centre hotel took about 40 minutes.  

We staggered inside the foyer of Hotel Signatures where the welcoming night watchman checked us in. He was incredibly friendly and genuinely sincere with his well wishes.

We took the Willy Wonka-esque glass elevator up to the first floor and to room 113. It was basic but clean, for the most part. Only the bathroom let them down. They always do, even in 5 star hotels.

We crashed onto the bed and fell into a deep sleep.

  Next Day >>>  

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