After 2 nights in Petra, we set sail for Wadi Rum – you will all have seen the film “Lawrence of Arabia” set in Wadi Rum. James and family camped there in the in the 80’s. This time, we camped out overnight with the Bedouin after a full days exploration in the desert bouncing around in a 40 year old truck!
The rock formations and colours were amazing …K’s favourite word of the trip.
Lunch was interesting: our guide took us to his family. Fresh goats milk shared out of a communal bowl. Arabic bread with EVERY part of the meat / fat / bone marrow poked out /the tongue, prised from the head of the animal …. was it goat or sheep? Absolutely no idea!!! J Practiced football skills with guide’s nephew.
We were taken to climb a rock to watch the sunset. Absolute silence and beautiful.
In the main tent after supper (food cooked underground with sand as the insulator), we sat and listened to traditional music. There were Russian and Belgian tourists as well as the Bedouin – someone suggested singing….. The Russian gentleman started with a lovely ballad accompanied by his wife… Something stirred James – not a drink in sight – a completely dry desert (terrible pun) – and he sang Danny Boy until he ran out of words! This was reasonably well received – his encore was the National Anthem sung in Irish!
The desert does some strange things to you – but it does enable you to see the best sun set and night sky and stars ever!
From our Dead Sea break we travelled to Petra – 30 degrees at Dead Sea down to 3 degrees at Petra! And from -400 ft to over 3800 ft above.
In all the 9 years James lived in Jordan he never saw such weather in Petra ! We started walking at 7:30 am and walked for 7 hours – up at the Monastery tomb we drank tea with the Bedouin under cover of hailstones and strong winds ! All day it was rain and gales. We walked to the High Place of sacrifice where James recalled Deborah and Stephen went and encountered a Bedouin with a rifle and Stephen acted as protector.
At one time 30,000 lived in Jordan – it is vast and the views are absolutely stunning.
Back to Amman was much quicker on the return – Israel checks you a lot less than on entry, but does make you pay an arm and leg to leave.
Drove onto Mt Nebo, where Moses was showed the Promised Land. Too misty for good views
We are now staying for 2 nights at the Dead Sea. Palm Springs has come to the Dead Sea ! Loads of USA style resort hotels – we are treating ourselves to the Marriott – expensive but it’s a trip we are unlikely to make again. Both feeling the need to be still, so we have extended our stay here to two nights, cut out Aqaba and shifted hotels around. Did the usual things – sitting upright in the sea, sleeping and enjoying the sun.
We travelled to Jerusalem by the non-official border crossing over the King Hussein bridge. The Jordanian entry visa from the airport is valid for about 3 months so we could use this. The process made K slightly uncomfortable as they hang onto your passports and you have to wait in a tiled room (think Midnight Express) and then on the bus, before having them returned to you. Said the crossing was much easier than 30 years ago – 2/3 hours compared to a half day and they now have scanners so don’t need to squeeze out the toothpaste!
We spent 2 nights in Jerusalem – mega busy – Jewish feast of Passover – the city was amazing as always but quite difficult to move around and very hot.
Fantastic market with all the spicy smells and colours you would expect, where we bought wine and European (!) cheeses for our supper.
We caught a bus to see the outside of the Knesset, the seat of the government. Next door was a rose garden with many Orthodox families with their throw away BBQs.
We did a free walking tour for the best part of three hours; tip at your discretion. It was really excellent as the guide explained the history and the character of the four quarters of Jerusalem. We popped back in the evening to go inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to see the site of the crucification,the tomb and the rock where Jesus was laid.
Drove a slightly circuitous route to Jerash, taking in some of the residential areas! Jerash is the second site of Jordan after Petra and worth the drive. A large area of Roman ruins, with a striking Oval Forum. Lots of friendly hellos from the visiting girls schools (boys visit on a different day!)
Up and though Dibeen Forest, not that far from the Syrian border, but very peaceful. This may have had something to do with the police car and security guard taking one dinar from us and giving us a black sack for our rubbish. Lovely place with views, but other visitors either omitted using the black sack at all or filled the black sack and then threw that onto the ground.
Found ourselves back in Jerash for a late lunch – we found a fish restaurant and having chosen our fish from a pool, we had a fabulous lunch looking up at the Roman remains – only £12!
A dodgy drive back into Amman; I had downloaded a GPS route finder app, as GPS does not use data and using our phones would have been really pricey. The only problem with my master plan was that GPS did not seem to be evident, so after quite a few discussions about which direction and using the sun for guidance we eventually found our way back to the hotel.
Dumped the car and taxi to meet an ex-work colleague of James’ for a drink and supper. Labib and J lots of trips down memory lane from 30 years ago and some really good explanations about Jordan that are not found in guidebooks, such as driving legislation i.e. none! He ran us back to the hotel via J’s last Jordan residence.