Jordan #touristybutworthit

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December 4th 2018
Published: December 4th 2018
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We are looking back at a few great weeks although it took a bit of effort from our side to fall in love with Jordan and the Jordanians. Maybe it's because we could let our guards down completely for such a long time in Iran that now suddenly we feel we are the subject of scams and tourist traps or at least not always very friendly attempts of the locals working with tourists to get more of our money without delivering any service, product or value at all. Suddenly we are the target of an army of men trying to sell us something we don't want for too high a price. If we don't specifically ask on beforehand about the exact price we know for sure we will end up in an argument about a suddenly doubled or tripled price for a Jeep tour, shawarma or even a simple coffee.

We find out that since last year there are now 32 budget flights with Ryanair and Easyjet to Jordan from Europe and Russia, every week! This explains a little bit why we see and meet such a different type of tourist than we expected. Most of the tourists spend anything between 5 and 10 days to skim through the country, visiting a few highlights, travelling by rental car, spending lots of money on low quality tours and souvenirs without socialising with locals or even other travellers. This is not really what we are used to and also not really what we are looking for ... is something we can easily conclude.

But while we are here we have also met wonderful people, who are socialising with both the locals and with us travellers, who we have truly made friendships with and trust to see again some time some where. We have also visited some beautiful places which in itself are enough reason to visit Jordan. And we have travelled the way we like, slowly taking our time for everything, travelling by public transport where possible and trying to spend our money at local small businesses owned by friendly locals who appreciate our effort to speak a few words in their language.

We arrived in Amman, the capital of Jordan and checked in at a very centrally located hotel downtown, with the friendliest staff, where we have changed rooms a few times and at the end made a room with balcony and view of the Roman Theatre our home. In Amman we wanted to organise our visa for India and this took some time so we made Amman our base from where we explored a bit of the Northern part of the country. We visited the historical parts and sites of Amman and then headed to Jerash and Aljoun for a day trip visiting the castle and enormous and impressive Roman - Greek ruined city. We also go for a day to the dead sea where we float in the water as if we are sitting on clouds or feathers. Judith celebrates her birthday with cake and bubbly wine and with a mud facial at the dead sea beach.

We kind of like the city of Amman because it's actual a very normal working city and most of the tourists just visit for the day and then leave to stay in one of the package tour hotels outside the city or close to the Dead Sea, Red Sea or airport. We walk around the old town and souqs and we find all sorts of small hole-in-the-wall type restaurants where they (they say) make the best falafel, the best shawarma, the best sesame bread etc. etc. We love all the food and the passionate people behind these small businesses.

The day we finally pick up our passports with a one-year multiple entry visa for India (yeah!) we take a small bus to Karak where we get dropped off in front of our booked hostel. We take our time again so we walk around the town and again we have the best shawarma. We meet and have dinner with Stephane who is cycling from Amman to Aqaba and who we will meet a few times more in the following weeks. We visit the great crusader castle and feel like being in a children's book about castles and knights.

The next day it's Friday, a day off in Jordan, so there seems to be no public transport to our next destination. Luckily a Spanish couple is on their way south and willing to bring us to a crossroad close to Wadi Musa. Well, this crossroad happens to be totally deserted and in the middle of nowhere. After a short time we decide to walk in the direction of another crossroad where we have seen a police post but after a few minutes already a pickup truck stops and a guy willing to bring us to the police post ends up bringing us all the way to Wadi Musa. Apparently especially the people who are not working in tourism and therefore are not confronted with some of the less friendly of our species are super helpful and friendly.

Wadi Musa is the village close to the World Wonder of Petra, a historical and archaeological city famous for the stone carved tombs and temples. This is the main reason for all the tourists including ourselves to come to Jordan and the day we want to visit Petra we wake up early only to find a lot of rain and clouds outside. We decide to kill the alarm clock and sleep in and try again tomorrow. Next day the weather is much better and we finally visit Petra.

The ancient city is huge and we walk and climb the whole day to see the different temples, theater, necropolis, tombs and of course The Treasury and we are actually overwhelmed by the beauty and size of it all. The site is spectacular, the stone carved tempels are well preserved and huge. The hiking in the site is great and scenic. The views from the steep cliffs are stunning. We have to admit that Petra is quite a world wonder. The second day we visit Petra we climb even higher and steeper paths and we see some more tombs and temples, like The Monastery. Tired but satisfied we have dinner with Christina, a girl we met in our hostel and during the hiking, and with Stephane who by then made it on his bicycle to Wadi Musa.

With Christina we share a taxi and tour to the desert and bedouin village of Wadi Rum. After picking up another guy Alex we drive in the back of a pickup truck through the desert and visit some tourist sites, geological formations like rock bridges and sand dunes before the 'Jeep' drops us at a tent camp in the middle of the desert. Wadi Rum is beautiful and the whole experience is above our expectations. We have a lot of fun during the day and there is a very good atmosphere in the camp. Speaking all the languages we can we get to know people from all over the world.

From Wadi Rum we share another taxi to Aqaba, a town at the extremely short Red Sea coast of Jordan, about 27 kilometers wedged between Israel and Saoudi Arabia. We check in at the friendly Bedouin Garden Village, a hostel consisting of all small one or two room buildings, close to the sea, with a swimming pool. We meet up with Stephane again and we meet again two couples we got to know at the Wadi Rum camp. This colourful and friendly atmosphere travellers hangout is where we will spend our remaining time in Jordan, walking around in beach wear and flipflops, drinking a few glasses of Jordanian wine, snorkelling in search for turtles but only finding a WW2 tank, diving at a very nice wreck overgrown with beautiful corals and reading our books while watching the sun set over the mountains of Egypt on the other side of the Red Sea. Suddenly it feels like we are also on a holiday and we love it.

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