January 4th, 2013 - We were originally planning on returning to Amman by bus from Petra, but decided the $30 extra for a taxi was worth it. We arrived to the Marriot in Amman where armed guards searched the cab for explosives before were allowed to enter the parking lot. Then we had to walk through metal detectors and our luggage was scanned as well before we could approach the reception desk. We checked in, grabbed some food from the sports bar downstairs, and then relaxed in the pool for the rest of the night.
We made friends with our taxi driver from Petra. His name was Mohammed and although he didn't speak much English, he was incredibly nice and helpful. Mohammed is from Amman and offered to be our driver for our remaining time in Jordan. After negotiating a few prices, we accepted. Mohammed picked us up at 8am the next morning and we headed north 45 minutes to the Roman town of Jerash.
Jerash is considered to be one of the best preserved Roman Cities in the Near East and often times referred to the Pompeii of the Middle East. It was established
to be a settlement for aged soldiers of the Roman Empires. A large earthquake in 749 AD along with wars and turmoil in the area over the years led to the severe deterioration of many of the buildings. However, an excavation process began in 1806 to help restore the ancient city.
We bought a cheap guide book from a local on the way in and then led ourselves on a self guided tour of the ruins. We started at the South Gate, then explored the Hippodromoe, the Colonnade, the cardo maximus, the bath house, the theaters, churches, and the temple of Zeus. It was incredible how intact the structures were, but what surprised me the most was the lack of security of the whole site. At one point, we saw children carrying garbage bags around the site and breaking up rocks and pieces of the ruins, which we guessed they would later try to sell. Pieces of mosaic floors were coming up and tourists were able to simply pick up a piece or two and claim them as a souvenir. It was very surprising to me.
After about 2.5 hours of exploring Jerash, we
headed back to Amman. Mohammed was still waiting for us in the parking lot and drove us to the Citadel in Amman. The Citadel is located in the heart of Amman and sits on top a hill that overlooks almost the entire city. It is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited places serving as home to many different cultures and civilizations throughout history. We spent some time walking around the outdoor sites on top the Citadel and then toured the Jordan Archeological Museum on site, which is home to artifacts dating back over 10,000 years.
After returning to the hotel, Mike and I wandered around the downtown business district a bit and found some good food for dinner. We bought some beer and headed back to the hotel for the night. Mohammed would be there again at 8:30 the next morning to take us to the airport for our flight to Dubai.
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