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Published: November 29th 2013
Salam aley kom!!
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is the official name of Israel's eastern neighbour country. In 1994 both countries signed a peace-treaty, therefore it's possible for people to cross the border from one of the three crossing points. Jordan uses the Jordanian Dinar as its currency, which has almost the same value as the Euro (1 JD = EUR 1,03 these days). The head of state is King Abdullah II.
From Nazareth I took a bus towards the bordercrossing called "Sheikh Hussein". Nobody told me we'd change buses at the border. I left my big backpack on the bus when we got off in front of the Jordanian migration building and then I needed to go through a security check in another building. When I finished I couldn't find the bus! I got a bit worried that the bus might have left with my backpack. After asking a couple of people, I found it on the sidewalk where we got off the bus prior to go through migration. So I had to walk back and then again through the security check. When entering and leaving Jordan, some Jordanians seemed not to know what means to stand in a
line and wait for your turn and tried to skip the line and enter from the side. I had to make it clear by showing them that they're not passing in front of me!
The bus arrived in Amman
, Jordan's capital and largest city with more than 2 million people. From the busstation I took a taxi to my hotel and while driving through the city, I noticed how big and chaotic it is. There is a lot of new construction going on and some skyscrapers are being built. I got to the hotel, checked-in, grabbed a map and head for a walk. I found Amman and Jordan in general to be a bit dirty with lots of trash. But, that's how it is! In the evening the city is still very much alive, most shops are opened and streets are busy with many pedestrains. The prayers from the minarets of the mosques couldn't be missed! For a tourist there is isn't too much to see in Amman and I stayed only two nights there. My walk brought me to the ruins of a Roman theatre built more than 1800 years ago and to the most visited attraction of
Amman, the "Citadel". It's located on top of a hill so I took a taxi to the entrance. I must say that taxi's are very cheap in Jordan but many times the drives attempt to rip you off a little. The Citadel is a historic archeological site and the most impressive is the ruins of the Temple of Hercules.
The next day I decided to visit Madaba
, a small city of ±70.000 people just southwest of Amman. It's just a city, but the many old, well-preserved floor mosaics makes the city interesting! The most famous one is located in the Greek Orthodox church called St. George's Church. Here they have large parts of an original floor mosaic created in the 6th century which is an ancient map showing the whole area of the current Jordan, West Bank and Israel. I went to the Madaba Archeological Park where more mosaics can be seen. From the belltower of the Church of St. John the Baptist I enjoyed good views of Madaba. This church was built about 100 years ago at the site of an ancient well. Underneath the church there is a small museum with paintings.
Just outside Madaba I went
to Mount Nebo. It's a 817m high hill from where Moses saw the "promised land", which is the current West Bank and Israel (Deuternomy 34:1). A church and a monastery are being uncovered at the site at the moment. I expected a bit more of the place itself. Back in Madaba I stopped at this vendor on the street who was selling warm corn cobs with spices. I sat down and eat and many teenage boys were coming, asking my name, where I'm from, giving a high five etc. but it was difficult to interact as they speak little English and I speak less Arabic than they speak English hahaha. So the conversations happened with a lot of gestures.
The next day I took a bus to Wadi Musa,
a little town in the desert with roughly 25.000 people. It's a base for those visiting Petra and exists almost entirely on tourism. The town itself has nothing in particular. Just hotels, restaurants, travel agents and a lot of barbershops! The drive to Wadi Musa took about 3,5 hours via the Desert Highway, which is a four-lane highway literally through the desert and runs from Amman all the way to
Aqaba in the extreme south of Jordan.
The next morning I woke up early for my visit to Petra
. This archeological site was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and is by far the most visited site in Jordan. Entrance fee is about US$70 and for those on a one-day trip to Jordan only to visit Petra, it's about US$ 130. I took a taxi to the main entrance and then....the "walking" starts! The site is big and you should prepare yourself for one long day of walking and climbing!!! There are carriages, donkeys and horses offered by some locals there but if you're on a budget you wouldn't easily do it. Besides, those guys will always try to rip you off! The site was built as a part of the Nabataean Kingdom more than 2100 years ago. Then the Romas conquered the place and expanded it more. Petra consists of Nabataean ruins of palaces and buildings and of course Roman ruins. I was very impressed by the site!!! The "Treasury" and the "Monastery" are the best preserved structures on the site. It's just "amazing" to see both, realizing that they've been there
for more than 2000 years and they are very well preserved because Petra remained an "abandoned" site for hundreds of years! To get to the Monastery there are about 800+ steps and here I decided to rent a horse to get me up and later I came down by foot. Around the Monastery there are a some viewpoints from where you can enjoy excellent views of the surrounding landscape. On one of the viewpoints I just sat down for a while and had a chat with the owner and his friend about the site and Jordan in general while drinking some mint tea. They said that tourism has been slow this year. Because of the problems in Syria and Egypt many people are afraid to come to the area at all and it means less tourists for Jordan (and Israel too!). The owner of my hotel in Wadi Musa said that in October they're usually fully booked but this year it's not the case! Anyway, after the Monastery I walked back all the way to the entrance and it was a LONG walk! My legs were very tired and in the evening I went to this massage place to relax
The next day I went to Wadi Rum
, a beautiful desert area in southern Jordan near the border with Saudi Arabia. There is a tiny town before entering the area, used as a base for a visit to the desert. The owner of my hotel in Wadi Musa recommended us one particular camp to stay at in Wadi Rum. An Australian guy and I went to Wadi Rum where our guide welcomed us in his house. We chilled there for some time, had some mint tea while he went to do buy the food, water etc. we'd need for the day. Then we boarded this old 4WD vehicle and went into the desert. We drove around and stopped at a couple sites with beautiful landscapes and views. There was this natural bridge and a sanddune for example. At one point the guide dropped us off and told us to walk between two clifss (like a canyon) to the other side where he would be waiting for us at the camp. The camp consists of a couple of small huts, each with two beds, one small building with a kitchen and on the other side a toilet and
a shower. There is one big shed where many people can sit down and eat, have a tea and just hang around. For a good view of the sunset we walked away from the camp a little bit. The landscape looked even more beautiful during the sunset! At night the stars are all clearly visible, spectacular! Our guide cooked us a good meal, which was way too much for just three people. There is a small generator at the place to provide electricity. All three of us went to sleep quite early. We were tired and needed to wake up early the next morning to take a bus to Aqaba. In the morning it was very cold!
After Wadi Rum I went south of the city of Aqaba
, which is the only harbour in Jordan and the only part with access to the sea. Here I stayed one night at a nice guesthouse and all I did here was to "relax" on the beach and snorkelling in the Red Sea
. On the other side of the sea you could see the Sinai in Egypt and also Eilat in Israel. First I wasn't sure whether to go or not, but
I didn't regret the decision. The beach itself was just ok, nothing spectacular but the water was very good and "crystal clear"! After going from place to place every couple of days it was good to just relax and do nothing! Jordan was great to visit and I wouldn't have minded to stay a bit longer and see more. What I saw was more than I originally planned so I was very satisfied with the visit! After the Red Sea I crossed back into Israel and took a bus from Eilat back to Tel Aviv where I stayed with my mate Gidi a few days before flying back to Europe!
"Shukran" for reading and till the next blog!
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