Published: June 4th 2005May 20th 2005
Arrived in Amman about 7PM local time. Le Royale Hotel-Amman is beautiful. First impression of Jordan was what warm and friendly people we encountered, first time in the Middle East, so really wasn't sure what to expect. Economic summit was going on so military people everywhere, but that was to be expected given these times.
Started out at about 10AM for the trip and headed to Bethamy/Baptism site. Drove up to the baptism site of Jesus in Bethany, we were met by the director of the site introduction/film of the site, then after that we were taken by the Supervisor of archeological works, for about a 3-4 hour tour of Elijahs Hill,The church where John Paul II visited in 2000, the baptism pools where people come from all over the world to be baptized and so many other spots its hard to capture them all.
Then drove up to the Dead Sea area for lunch, absolutely stunning landscapes, again was struck on how friendly and giving the people of Jordan are. Have traveled all over the world, and the people in Jordan are tops in making you feel at home.
Headed up to
Mt Nebo, where Moses came at the end of his life (he's buried in the area, but no one really knows where). It's a fascinating site historically as you can see literally the history of our world as we know it. From here you see the Dead Sea, Herodium,Bethlehem,Jerusalem, Ramallah and Jericho. My knowledge on world religions is minimal at best but you can't help to be impacted by the sense of history you feel here.
Tonight we went out to a nice dinner and then a few nightspots, again not what I expected. Although Jordan is predominantly Muslim, the culture seems much more an open and non judgemental society than I expected. Unlike some of the middle eastern cultures I know of where people are expected to carry on a certain way, most Jordanians I found believe that what you do is between you and your god, and no one else, so its a accepting blend of learning and cultures.
May 23rd-Picked up about 10AM. First stop was Roman Theatre in Amman. Acoustics in theatre very interesting. Can speak from a central spot (marked), and everyone else (~6000) can hear you.Name of Amman origiinally came from the Ammonites.
Also used to be called Philadelphia-city ofbrotherly love.
Citadel in afternoon, artifacts from back as far as 6000BC.. Excavation continually in progress.
Aljun castle-created about 1100, very similar in design to English castles I’ve seen of the same period.. Excellent views of the city. Current castle about 3 stories tall, figure the original was about 6 stories. Castle was built on a church site that originated in about 500 AD, mosaic floor of the church still remains.
Essentially a self contained fortress Roman City. Had to be few miles long from end to end..2 theatres, one sat about 6000 for the masses, other smaller(maybe 1000 seats) probably used for city council meetings etc. The current city is built on remains of old city. Only about 40% of the city has been excavated, remaining 60% remains covered by town. Had lunch at an Arab-Lebanese Restaurant. New part of city itself seemed to be a middle class working town (auto repair shops, cell phone stores and a few guys herding goats).
Petra-In a word-BREATHTAKING- The valley you head down to get to the city looks like something out of an Indian Jones movie (it was), once you arrive can't help but be overwhelmed what man had created ~3000 years ago, really couldn't figure out how they did it, and after a while just stopped trying to figure it out and just take it in.
Wadi Rum-Nature at it finest- We drove out to the middle of the Wadi Rum desert are to experience the sunset, like no other I've ever seen. Just a vast open area with red sand and breathtaking mountains, and the peaceful sunset, very pure and serene. Road back in the back of the desert patrols' Toyota land cruiser, barreling through the desert dunes to the home base, very cool ride.
Aquaba-Beautiful and relaxing- A very nice resort town that we just kind of caught or breath for a day or two and enjoyed the sun, the beaches and the people.
Jordan in General
Very clean, you don’t see cigarette butts, soda cans or animals roaming. When we arrived economic forum was in progress. On 30 minute drive froms airport, soldiers about every 500 feet. Three types of uniforms you see in Jordan. Green/Army-Blue/Police-Tan/Tourist Police, after the summit was over things returned to normal. I felt very safe and very welcome no matter which part of Jordan we visited, whether alone or with friends. If you get the chance, go, you will be amazed.