"A bit of Venice in Amman, Jordan"
Staying at the Gondola Hotel in Amman is like staying on the Grand Canal in Venice. When you look out a window in the lobby, one would almost expect to see a gondola floating by on a canal. The wife of the owner, Mr. Basel, has decorated the apartments and public rooms in the colors and style of a well-to-do Victorian, Venetian home owner. Deep reds and blue predominate with accents in white, the likely colors of the wife of an ancient Doge of Venice. Yet, with all the Venetian trappings, there are some paintings and other artifacts of Arab life, making for a perfect marriage of cultures. When one stays at a usual hotel, seldom does one mix with the staff. Here at the Gondola Hotel, however, it is simply a natural inter-action. I chatted often with Maher, the daytime Desk Clerk and I chatted for hours with Kamal, the nighttime Desk Clerk; my conversations with him made possible by the quieter evening hours. Though Kamal and I did not solve the problems of the world in those conversations, we did come up with many "What if?" possibilities. I learned of Maher and Kamal's friends, family, life and goals and they learned of where my 85 years have taken me. To me, they seemed more like friendly neighbors than staff at a hotel. Indeed, when Maher learned that I lost my cell phone in a taxi in Dubai, he brought in his camera for me to use to take pictures at Petra, one of the Wonders of the Modern World. As a result, we have now become e-mail "buddies". How rare!
Don, 86 from American living in Bangkok, Thailand