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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jordan travels

I don't know what to write about a recent trip to Jordan. it was a moving and educational step back into ancient history, organised into three chapters.

The first stop was Amman and the north. It was cold and rainy and even snowed one morning. Organizing a simple taxi ride took persistence and required me to stare down a tour operator who insisted on being served ahead of me.

Organizing sightseeing depended on our ability to be clear and strong on our wishes and also negotiate better prices.

After paying for a city tour on Friday we discovered  that we should not be in the downtown area after noon on a Friday as the post-mosque big crowds apparently get quite rowdy.
Amman perfumery
Amman visit to spice (spicy) shop.
No problem. A quick visit to a perfumery, where the perfume makers shared his secrets of roses and gardenias, and a spice shop where they sell everything including virginity soap. Would love to know how that works.

 Amman: Roman amphitheater circa 161 AD.

Amman: The Citadel inhabited
continuously for the past 10,000 years

From Amman north: Ajlun Castle circa 1184,
built on the remains of a monastery

From Amman north: Ancient city of Jerash established by Alexander the great.
Reminded me of Pompei. Do not miss this when you come.
A 3km walk and you could happily spend a half day.

A highlight was visiting
the lowest spot on earth.

Chapter 2, left Amman for Jordan River Valley and the Dead Sea.  It was finally warm and sunny, so after lounging by the pool we jumped into the sea. The feeling is impossible to describe. The salt concentration is 10x that of the Mediterranean, so floating is easy. What is hard is doing anything else, like walking or swimming. And no we could not walk on water.

Dead Sea Marriot Jordan Valley
Lap of luxury

One full day followed of sun, spa and sea. 
Such a beautiful resort 
and every moment of this day 
felt well spent.

Chapter 3: Petra, Aqaba and The Red Sea: Our next location, Aqaba, was more than 4 hours by car. We decided to break up the trip with a much anticipated visit to Petra, established 312 BC, rediscovered in 1812. Technological innovations included control of water allowed the Nabataeans to thrive in this desert area, and the mix of Greek, Egyptian and Syrian elements show its desirability to all. Of course the Roams came and built over top of all that, so once again the main street strongly resembles Jerash and Pompeii and likely a hundred other ancient cities.

What is most remarkable about seeing Petra for the first time is the carvings into the massive walls of stone. Tombs for commoners are everywhere, but of course it is the royal tombs that impress.

 And of course a trip tp Jordan would not be complete without visiting Aqaba and the Red Sea. Well we actually did not visit Aqaba at all, staying at a resort 15 km outside of the city. Although it was very windy during our visit, the colors, sun and warm friendly people made it well worth the trip. Most of the hotel employees at the resort come from the Philippines. They are young men and woman who get a work visa for 19 months and basically work the whole time they are in Jordan. We were pleased with the level of professional service combined with a very warm welcome.

The view from the lobby of The Movenpick hinted
at the overall beautity of the resort.

Nice beach, but very windy
Just one of our many pools at the reort.
If you are going to Jordan, here is my advice:
  1. Go in April or May to have reliably warm weather but not a heatwave
  2. Do not miss Jerash.
  3. Do not miss Petra
  4. Spend enough time in the north to see the incredible history and most of your time in the south to really relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that's cool! I really want to go to Jordan someday (granted, I want to go EVERYWHERE), and especially see Petra. It's so magnificent. I'm glad you were able to go and share some pictures. ;D I'd be so mesmerized by the architecture, especially as it has that natural stone quality, being still part of the mountain. I love places like that. I like to incorporate it into my writing.


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