Day 2: Mosaics and Christianity in Madaba & Mount Nebo and Floating in the Dead See


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Middle East » Jordan » West » Dead Sea
October 13th 2013
Published: November 1st 2013
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This day, was the first "real" day of my trip. After the first night, it was time to stand up, and time for breakfast. Our hotel, Mariam hotel, had a rooftop restaurant. There, you had a nice view over the city of Madaba, and it was the first acquaintance with Jordan by daylight. And then suddenly you realize that you are in Jordan and a total different culture, and of course The Middle-East. The town and the houses looks just like you see on TV and you already hear the hectic of the city life. I took breakfast, and I started to meet the other ones of the group, which arrived with another flight than mine. I saw them yesterday evening very fast, but I didn't really know them yet. The breakfast is totally different than in The Netherlands, of at my other trip in England. Of course, it was to expect it was totally different, but I really wanted to maintain it. Where you see in The Netherlands, of at Western Europe, mostly bread with butter and spreads (like cheese, jam, meat), croissants, hard breads, yogurt and fruit at breakfast, in Jordan it's different. In almost all meals you see
Map of the Holy LandMap of the Holy LandMap of the Holy Land

St. George Church, Madaba.
flat bread (not sweeten) served with hummus (a smooth mass of chickpeas with olive oil) and other dips. You rip the bread in pieces and dip it into the sauces. Breakfast also contains out of small, sweet little breads. Also pancakes are served where you can add syrup onto it. And some hotels have an English breakfast as well. Of course, coffee and tea are served, but also juice.

After breakfast, we had a meeting in the restaurant. There, our tour guide told us everything about Jordan what we should know and how the program is going to look like. She gave us a map of Madaba and we're ready to go. First, we should find a bank, where the people of our group could exchange money or obtain from the ATM. First, we found one bank. It was quite busy and we probably have to wait over a half hour. The next day, the bank should close, as preparing for the Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice). So, we went to another band. It was also quite busy, probably you have to wait also for a half hour. I had Euro's which I wanted to exchange, but I chose for ATM.

Hereafter, we went to see the St. George Church in Madaba. Madaba is the only Christian town in Jordan, and totally in peace with the Islam in whole Jordan. Madaba, is also the town of the mosaics. The map of the St. George Church is the most famous of the city, but also interesting there is an Archaeological Park where you can see a lot more mosaics and other Churches (i.e. Church of the Apostles). Souvenirs shops also selling mosaics in every size, and it's a good souvenir to take at home. The St. George Church is famous by the Byzantine mosaic map of the Holy Land. Probably the map is made between 542 and 570 AD in a Byzantine Church. Sadly, the map is damaged and not complete anymore, but it's really worth seeing. It spread from the Mediterranean coast (west) until the Eastern Desert (The desert east of the Nile in the Sahara) (east). In North Lebanon and in the South the Nile Delta. In the center Jerusalem, the most detailed element on the map is shown. The map consist out of art with boats, lions, animals and humans. Not only the map is
View from Mount NeboView from Mount NeboView from Mount Nebo

The road to the Dead See
worth vising it, also the Church is nice to visit. It contains (mosaic) arts, but also a nice chandelier. And it's really worth to sit on the banks and enjoying the place, and of course watching other tourists (which might be attraction by itself).

We had free time to buy a lunch. Richard and I bought a Turkish Bread. Just 50 cents (flees). Very cheap and the bread was nice, and of course a little bit sweeten. After the lunch we met our guide Omar and our bus driver Waél. Time to visit Mount Nebo! Mount Nebo is famous due Moses. As described in the bible (and the Koran?? I don't be sure about this?), Moses led the Isrealites for forty years through the wilderness, where on this mountain God showed to Moses the Promised Land. But God had forbidden fpr Moses to enter the land. Moses died on the mountain, and his successor Joshua took the Isrealites across the river into Canaan. Today, Mount Nebo is a very important pilgrims spot for Christians, Jews and Muslims. There is a memorial for Moses at the site, but Muslims (who sees Moses as a prophet) believe that his body was
Mosaic MapMosaic MapMosaic Map

Mount Nebo
carried across the river and placed in a tomb in nowadays modern Jericho-Jerusalem highway. Also the Pope (John Paul II) vised Mount Nebo, back in March 2000. The site contain the Moses Memorial Church, which is currently renovating. The first church on this place was build in 394 AD and floored with mosaics, but was abandoned. Some of the Mount Nebo mosaics are exposed outside in a small exposition. Omar, our guide, gave us information about those mosaics. From the site, you had a great viewpoint, where you even could see Jericho and of course the Dead See. And also the road through the valley to the Dead See. At this spot an artwork was made, and known as the Stylized Cross. It has the form of a serpent. It's inspired by Jesus words in John 3: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up". The mountain is 1800 meters above sea level.

It was time to go to 400 meters below sea level to visited the lowest point at earth: the Dead See! Waél drove adventures, the way down contains many hairpin and Waél drove quite fast. Members of the group where a little bit scared and asked him to drive a little bit slowly. It was a nice way to get down, and you could feel the pressure in the ears that we were going down. After payed entrance, we vised the Amman Beach Resort. I don't know why they call it The Amman Beach Resort, because Amman, the capital, is one hour driving away from this spot. Anyway, at this resort tourist can walk in bikini's. On public beach it's not advised as woman to dress such "naked", and it's expected to dress probably where arms and legs are covered. Due high evaporation of the water, the residual water is very salt. It's so salt that there are no living creatures (like fishes and plants) are living in the dead sea. And, you can float in it. You can not sink! It's impossible! So let's try! We all fell backwards and we were floating! We didn't sink! It's really a great experience. Laying on your back, reading the news paper (and making pictures while reading) and keeping floating. Normally you would sink, but we didn't. We tried swimming, but that's almost impossible. And it's not advice
Sunset at the Dead SeeSunset at the Dead SeeSunset at the Dead See

Amman Beach Resort
to get any water in your mount or nose, it burns! Sadly, some splashes came in my mount and nose, it was not nice. And in your eyes it should be like hell, gladly that didn't happen. After the floating, we took a full body mud mask. It should be hard and then you should float it off in the Dead Sea. The remainder you should wash easily away in the shower. But I had a problem: It didn't went off! It didn't! I looked gray, such as my towel too (I washed at home a couple of times, but it's still grey, really!). After a half hour of washing, it finally went off. At the Resort, there was a swimming pool too. Time to drink Lemon Mint Juices, swimming, reading and watching the sunset. Seeying the sunset at the Dead See is very beautiful!

After the sunset we went back to our hotel in Madaba. The tour guide advised to visit a good restaurant called "Haret Jdoudna". We took a buffet of appetizers. Flat bread with a lot of sauces and hummus, salads, and vegetables. They brought us some meat balls, fried cheese and the diner was quite
DinerDinerDiner

Haret Jdoudna, Madaba.
nice. Hereafter, it was time to go to sleep.


Additional photos below
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View of MadabaView of Madaba
View of Madaba

Rooftop restaurant, Mariam Hotel, Madaba
ChandelierChandelier
Chandelier

St. George Church, Madaba.
ArtArt
Art

St. George Church
Mount NeboMount Nebo
Mount Nebo

These round stones they used as round door to close a burial tomb.
Mosaic Map Mosaic Map
Mosaic Map

Mount Nebo
The Serpent ArtThe Serpent Art
The Serpent Art

Mount Nebo
Mosaic Art Mosaic Art
Mosaic Art

Mount Nebo
Swimming Pool Swimming Pool
Swimming Pool

Amman Beach Resort


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