John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Tuesday 9 September 2014

[Jordan, 2014]

08:55–09:03 Cleethorpes–Grimsby Town (Northern Rail)
09:20–10:42 Grimsby Town–Newark North Gate (East Midland Trains)
10:54–12:23 Newark North Gate–London Kings Cross (East Coast)
12:38–12:53 London Kings Cross–London Paddington (London Underground)
13:10–13:25 London Paddington–Heathrow Term123 (Heathrow Express)
17:05–00:10 (next day) London Heathrow–Amman (RJ112)
DAY 1: UK to Amman
Depart London on your scheduled flight and arrive at Amman airport where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Amman.

Day 252 Job 34-35; Romans 4
…Janet had set my alarm clock for, I think, 6.15am.… Packed the stuff I wanted or needed to take in the rucksack. The taxi arrived at 8.30am. The “train” to Grimsby, i.e. the single coach Northern Rail service to Barton-on-Humber, hadn’t arrived, so we went to the waiting room. I picked up a couple of timetables, and wrote a list of the stopping points with their timings.

08:55 Cleethorpes
(I didn’t note the calling time for Grimsby Dock)
09:05 Grimsby Town
09:20 Grimsby Town
09:30 Habrough
09:39 Barnetby
09:55 Market Rasen
10:14 Lincoln (arr.) (The train in fact arrived at 10:10.)
10:15 Lincoln (dep.)
10:32 Collingham (The train in fact arrived at 10:29.)
10:42 Newark North Gate
10:54 Newark North Gate
11:06 Grantham
11:28 Peterborough
11:56 Stevenage
12:23 London Kings Cross

I also wrote a list of the stops on the Underground from the map in the back of the East Coast timetable booklet.

Kings Cross
Euston Square
Great Portland Street
Baker Street
Edgware Road

We boarded the “train” when it arrived, and it got into Grimsby Town ca. the scheduled time. The East Midlands service to Newark was a similar single coach, though of more recent refurbishment, with bright reds in evidence, than the Northern Rail.

I listened to Genesis in the ESV dramatised version I downloaded some time ago: ch.1 to partway through ch.15. The train didn’t become hopelessly overcrowded en route, as previously, though latterly we both had people occupying the seats next to us. The only deviations from schedule were early arrivals at Lincoln and Collingham. We had aisle seats on the East Coast train to London, so were seated next to people already on the train in window seats. Genesis 15 (rest)–25. I managed to carry suitcases down stairs at the Underground station. The list of Underground stops helped to find the right platform, for to the left was a sign saying “Circle Line via Baker Street” and to the right “Circle Line via” some place I’d not listed. The first train was due in “3 minutes”. At Paddington we followed the way marked on the floor to the “Heathrow Express”. There was a long train waiting which we boarded. The confirmative e-mail when I bought the tickets had the following schedule:

12:38 Kings Cross
12:53 Paddington
13:10 Paddington
13:25 Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 & 3

The train we boarded indeed left ca.1.10pm. We got to Terminal 3… [and found] the desks for Royal Jordanian Airlines. And as soon as we got there we were checked in! We didn’t purchase extra-legroom seats because the clerk advised us that there would be plenty of empty seats on this flight. And security scans were completed very quickly as well. We walked around looking for a suitable place for me to have lunch and plumped for a bar/restaurant where I had a cheese-and-bacon burger and a pint of Greene King IPA. Afterwards I sat and Janet had a wander round the shops. The boarding gate number came up on the monitor ca.4pm, so we made our way there; but as typical, though the sign said “Boarding”, we had to wait till boarding actually commenced, perhaps at “16:35” as stated on the boarding card. The Boeing 787 had a seat configuration 3 + 3 + 3. We had middle and aisle seats on the left block (as one faced forward); in the window seat was a Jordanian man, who told us the “must see” sights of Jordan, most of which, I think, we were scheduled to visit. Take-off was ca.½-hour later than scheduled; after taxiing from the gate we were in a queue with a few aircraft ahead of us. After the “Fasten seat belts” sign went off, we found a set of three vacant seats three or so rows in front of us and went and occupied that. I sat next to the window and Janet next to the aisle, with a space between us. I listened to Genesis 26–31 (part). Then I decided to watch the movie Kate and Leopold, with which I was already fairly familiar. On the screen in front of the unoccupied middle seat I called up a relief map of our journey with the position of the aeroplane shown, viewable at adjustable scales, orientations and angles, and checked our position often. The country known internationally as Israel was labelled “Palestine”. We were served with drinks and a meal en route. We landed just before midnight, local time. We got our cases from the baggage-claim carousel and proceeded to the lines where one queued for visas. There were signs saying that these were 40 Jordanian dinars: no mention of US dollars. According to both “Your Tour Dossier” and “All you need to know”, issued by Mercury Direct: “You will be issued with a visa on arrival into Jordan for approximately USD $60 per person. You will need to make sure you have some cash in US Dollars when you arrive.” We were in the visa queue when the TravCo Jordan rep intercepted us and told us that arrangements for visas were already being made. He checked our names on his list; nine names were there, but one man wasn’t listed. The TravCo guy took our passports to arrange for the visas, and agreed a meeting-up place in “about half an hour”. The group, except the one man, went off. We passed through a security check of luggage, but we were waved through and so avoided having to lug the suitcases onto the conveyor to be scanned. We found seats in the large entrance/exit hall, more or less as arranged, and waited. … I got talking to one of the others: a guy in his sixties from Lancaster also called John, a structural engineer, who was travelling with his wife and archaeology graduate daughter Jacqueline (more of whom anon). The TravCo man eventually — more than ½-hour — appeared with our visa-stamped passports. My Jordanian visa was stamped on the opposite page of the same opening as the Israeli one. “Peace in the Middle East!” I declared. There was no charge for visas for groups of more than five, let alone the notion of having to pay in dollars. The temperature outside was still twenty-some degrees. The TravCo guy loaded our cases in the back of a “dolmuş”-style vehicle, we boarded, and set out. We’d proceeded well into the city when the “dolmuş” did a U-turn, and ca.1.30am we found ourselves back outside the airport. The previously unlisted guy wasn’t with us; that’s why we’d turned back. There was a further delay and eventually it was ascertained that he wasn’t at the airport. “He must have got a taxi to the hotel and is probably already curled up in bed asleep,” one speculated. That wasn’t far from the truth. So it was ca.2am by the time we got to the hotel: “Al-Fanar Palace Hotel”, not the “Region Hotel” of “All you need to know” nor the “Excelenica Hotel” of “Your Tour Dossier”. Check-in was reasonably rapid. We were given room-numbered tags for the suitcases, which were portered up. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long for the knock on the door. Many of the fittings and furnishings in the hotel, e.g. handrails in lifts, furniture in the room, had a rather “worn”, needing-refurbishment look. The room wasn’t overly large, though adequate, and there were sliding glass doors to a balcony. The layout was what I’ve come to think of as “standard”, with wardrobe and cupboard containing a strongbox opposite the bathroom, two single beds with a common headboard, and a dressing table-cum-desk opposite the beds. The TV, atop a cabinet containing a refrigerator, annoyingly came on when I slotted the key-card in the slot just inside the door to activate the lights. The sockets were UK-style ones, though I couldn’t find one within reach of the desk, till I pulled the desk out, unplugged the TV, plugged my computer’s power supply in, and pushed the desk back. (This also had the added advantage of disabling the annoyance of the TV set coming on unbidden.) Janet unpacked a few essential items, and I transferred today’s 41 videos off the camera (03:00–03:04), before we finally, finally were able to get into bed — getting towards 4am, I guess, though Janet’s journal has “ca.4.30am”. There was no complimentary bottled water which we often get in places where the tap water isn’t potable (we assumed that to be the case here), so I had to break out the to-be-paid-for “minibar” supply in the fridge for teeth-cleaning.

[Wednesday 10 September 2014]

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