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Published: June 12th 2017
Geo: 32.3985, 35.9253
Jerash is located about 50 minutes north of Amman, well beyond the sprawl and set atop the higher -- and forested -- plateau of northern Jordan, that leads into Syria. Change in this area is much less pronounced, and I found myself remembering landmarks during the drive. Jerash is a now small city, which has grown up around the ancient Roman city from which the name is derived. It is famous for being the best-preserved Roman ruins in the world, as well as the largest.
We purchased tickets and decided to tour the city on our own, rather than hire a guide. Unlike during any of my previous visits, there were small crowds of tourists. Most were locals, including several school groups, but there were also pockets of foreign tourists. I think we were the only Americans, but lots of Germans and even more Italians. I also came across my first groups of Israeli tourists, which still shocked me. The thought of a peace treaty between Jordan and Israel had seen like such a pipe dream when I lived there, even though the Madrid Talks had kicked off, but it was signed a year after I left, and it
has to be credited with much -- if not most -- of the growth in tourism. Since it was signed, there has been a steady stream of visitors from Israel, and tour companies now routinely package Jordan, Israel, and Egypt trips together. Still, the sight of tourists speaking Hebrew and wearing t-shirts saying "Super Jew" was still unexpected. I did note, as well, that the women in one group of Israelis were wearing shorts and tank-tops. We were very careful to have Anna dress modestly during this trip, and most other tourists followed suit. These Israelis, and a group we saw later down in Petra, who were from Texas, were the exceptions, and certainly stood out. While Jordan is certainly not a Sharia country, the women do dress modestly, and I felt embarrassed for these tourists.
The day became increasingly hot, and it was easily in the high 70's. While it felt nice compared to the horrible winter we left behind, we were soon hot, tired and thirsty, so while we did manage to walk through the entire complex, we did not "do it justice." We elected to find a nice restaurant and recharge ourselves.
Our tour book recommended a restaurant right
down the road called the Lebanese House, and it did not disappoint. It was a very high-end place, the likes of which one wouldn't have seen before, particularly outside of Amman. A full compliment of waiters, spanning the social spectrum -- from water pourers, to order takers, to food servers, to plate cleaners -- descended on us. The menu was huge. I ordered a mixture of mezza (appetizers) for us, which I thought would be sufficient, but when the head waiter then asked what we wanted for main courses, I threw on another order. It was completely unnecessary. A parade of plates worked its way across the table, and we were all pretty full, certainly before we sampled all of the food and definitely before the main course even showed up. That said, everything was wonderful. Anna, in particular, fell in love with hummus. While she's had it here, she'd never had "real" hummus, and she was hooked. It became a staple at most every meal (including breakfast) for the remainder of our trip, in both Jordan and Israel.
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