Amman, Jordan to Damascus, Syria
The last day in Amman I spent at Darat al-Funun, www.daratalfunun.org an arts center run by the Khaled Shoman Foundation. Several early 20th-century houses set in landscaped gardens cascade down a hillside, the complex includes galleries with the works of contemporary artists, an art library where I spent a contented hour, workshops, and at the bottom of the hill, an old Byzantine church with columns. At the top is a lovely outdoor cafe set in a peaceful shady courtyard. (T.E. Lawrence penned part of Seven Pillars of Wisdom in one of the houses.)
From there I got thoroughly lost en route to Wild Jordan. Amman is not huge but being built on hills, its streets wind round and round and can be quite complicated to navigate, especially when you are not armed with a proper map, and taxi drivers do not know street names. In the Middle East street names change frequently, so old people know the names of the streets from 50 years ago but not today, and young people have no idea of the old names. I tried several times to explain to taxi drivers where I wanted to go - I tried in Arabic and English, several otherwise innocent passers-by got involved, but I eventually thought it best to set off on foot before we tied up the whole of downtown traffic.