A Travellerspoint blog

Jordan

Wadi Rum and Aqaba

Camping under the stars

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From Petra we took a taxi to Wadi Rum. We arrived at 4ish, just in time for a 2 hour Jeep tour and view of the sunset. The Jeep tour took us from the Bedouin village, around Wadi Rum desert, to the sand dune, to a natural gorge with ancient writing on the rocks and finally arrived at our campsite. Jason decided to take the opportunity to get fit and run up the dune, and instead I leisurely (but with difficulty) walked up it to take in the amazing landscape of Wadi Rum. The views are spectacular.

Our camp was positioned in the shade of a huge rock, a stunning location! It was with Bedouin Lifestyle and the new facilities had only been open one week. We had lovely brand new showers with hot water and cozy double bedded tents. A short walk from our camp there was a rocky outcrop that was the perfect viewing spot for sunset. We were the only ones there and we sat and watched the sun go down over the desert. Breathtaking!

After sunset we arrived back at the camp and joined a few others to sit around a fire, drink tea and listen to traditional Jordanian music on the lute. The Bedouins had cooked up a real treat for our evening meal. They'd placed chicken, onions and tomatoes in a big metal drum and buried it in the sand over some burning embers for hours. They then dug it up in front of us and there we had our feast for the evening. It was really tasty. After the meal we sat outside, smoked a shisha pipe, listened to more music and took in the sky above us. We were lucky to have a full moon and so the desert was really bright all night, you didn't need a torch. Jason had a star gazing app on his phone and we struggled to work out the constellations. I saw my first shooting star...another amazing day in Jordan.

The next day we woke to a beautiful bright morning in the desert, a feast for breakfast and a camel ride. Ha...the camel ride was a bumpy and smelly experience. I'm glad we only chose to pay to go on it for a short while, whereas there was a couple of girls in our camp that were going on a two day trek across the desert on one...not the comfiest mode of transport. There were plenty of tour options you could have done in Wadi Rum, unfortunately they were out of our price range (I.e. sand boarding, more Jeep tours, trekking sleeping under the stars). Maybe next time...

We moved on to our last stop in Jordan, Aqaba. It's a beach side resort area in the Red Sea. We booked into a cracking little hotel, called Cedar Hotel. They gave us complimentary drinks on arrive, a fruit basket in our room and were really helpful. Unfortunately Jason picked up a stomach bug so we just sat by a pool and relaxed for a couple of days. The Red Sea has a good coral reef and so we invested in a snorkel set each. The fish were really bright and clear, its a shame we didn't have an underwater camera...but I think I know what's on Jason's wish list.

The reason we chose to go to Aqaba was because there's a quiet border crossing into Israel from here...so next stop is a whistle stop tour of Jerusalem.

Posted by bloorsontour 05:44 Archived in Jordan Comments (2)

Petra, Jordan

Magical Petra

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The only public bus to Petra leaves Amman at 6.30am, so it was a very early start for us as we had to be at the bus station before that to ensure that we got a ticket. The bus takes you directly to the visitor centre entrance, so often people do it as a day trip from Amman.

Its 50JD for a one day Petra pass or 55JD for two days, so we opted for the two...and glad we did because there's so much to see. From the visitor centre to the Treasury monument there's a 2km walk through a natural gorge, it's a great first impression... with reminants of sculptures hidden in the rock and then, the most famous Petra view of all, the glimpse of the Treasury appears round a corner through a gap in the rocks. Spectacular, it doesn't disappoint. Petra was so quiet when we went that Jason managed to get the brochure shot of the Treasury without any crowds and with a camel perfectly placed in front.

It was really hot and a lot of the site is more of a hike than a stroll. You have to take regular rests and soak up the views. Or, you can opt to go round on a donkey, mule or camel for a fee. There's lots of ruins built into the red rock and you can get a sense of what the ancient town would have looked like all those years ago. It never felt busy, we could soon find ourselves a step to sit on and be by ourselves to admire the view.

After making our way up over the rocky path, we reached the monastery. This was my favourite of all the sites at Petra. It's huge! When we first got there there was a Bedouin boy climbing and jumping over it...and I thought "crazy"! Not knowing at the time, that later we'd follow a crazy Bedouin to an even higher point of the Monastery to watch the sunset. There's a perfectly placed cafe opposite the Monastery where we stopped to have a drink and started chatting to a local Bedouin. He told us a lot about his life, working in Petra, the Bedouin way, it was really interesting. He said he'd take us to the best place to watch the sunset...and it really was! If you look at our photographs, there's a dome shape at the top middle of the Monastery ruin...well that's where we sat to watch the sun go down! Again, I had a little vertigo episode (probably made worse by the boy that decided to balance near the edge and on the very top of the Monastery spire), but it was worth it! This had been one of my best days so far.

I hadn't quite sussed out how we were going to leave the Petra site once the sun had gone down and we were in pitch black...the only answer was by mule! We relied on a group of Bedouins to help us get back; although Jason had to run alongside in the dark because he was worried about being allergic to the fur. We got taken back to the Bedouin village where we had a cup of tea. A great end to a perfect day!

We only stayed in Petra for half a day the next day because we were shattered from our previous day's adventure. We hiked up to the High Point for amazing views of the site...you could see for miles and it highlighted new areas that we hadn't explored yet. It's breathtaking, honestly one of the most beautiful and interesting sites/parks I've been too. I could have spent hours just sitting, perched on top of the mountain, taking in the views. There must be so much more we could have seen if we'd had more time to explore.

Our hotel was really nice too, AlAnbat Hotel. The staff were really friendly, there was a pool, they cooked great food, and more importantly there was an onsite Turkish bath. After all that walking, we figured we needed a treat. We loved it...a steam room, a man to scrub you down and then sud you up with soap, then a full body massage, followed by jacuzzi and apple juice. Amazing! It was a little off putting when the man showed us how much dead skin he'd managed to scrub away...there was a lot!

My descriptions don't do justice to Petra. I hope you get an idea from our photographs how spectacular it is. We will continue to recommended Jordan, and especially Petra, to everyone we meet. Truely magical!

Posted by bloorsontour 08:34 Archived in Jordan Comments (2)

The Dead Sea, Karak and Madaba

A little bit of luxury and a Nissan Sunny

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We'd debated whether to hire a car for the whole of our Jordan trip, but instead opted for 3 days in case we didn't like it and we'd also heard that you could get to tourist sites relatively easily on public transport.

We'd got a night booked at the Crown Plaza, Dead Sea, as a little treat using Jason's hotel points he'd collected whilst working away in the UK. To make the most of our day of luxury we dashed down to the Dead Sea in our little Nissan Sunny and managed to check in early. Wow...it was amazing...first, an upgrade to a sea view room, then a chauffeur in a golf buggy to our room (as the place was huge), then free mini bar , then a knock on the door with a present of free baklava, then free mud minerals on the beach, amazing pool and the sun was shining. I was in my element. After all this travelling a little bit of luxury was greatly appreciated. Apart from the sun bathing we really didn't do a lot, but we would definitely recommend the Dead Sea as an experience. It's so weired! There is nothing you can do to sink and Jason tried his best to push me down in the water but I just popped straight back up again. You can't swim because your feet end up floating above the surface so you can never kick to get anywhere. It gave us a lot of entertainment. In order to get the best Dead Sea mineral experience for your skin you are supposed to soak in the water and then apply the mud until it dries and then dip back in the sea to wash it all off. We followed this advice, but not sure we look 10 years younger for doing so...?

Jason did all of the driving and made the most of quiet, winding roads that take you through the desert and mountains (I think he secretly quite liked the Nissan Sunny). It was great to take in the scenery, stop when you wanted to and go to wherever you decided...we spent a night in Karak. It was a very quite town and had a budget hotel for us to stay in (a bit of a downgrade from our previous room). We tried to eat locally and sought out the busiest place in the town...a kebab house. I was disappointed with my meal, which was basically a chicken and cheap cheese sandwich, but Jason's BBQ chicken and veg with pitta was much nicer. Karak has a castle, which was why we chose to go there, because Jason likes castles. The castle was OK, not kept in the best condition for a tourist site, but it did have great views of Jordan's desert landscape and we virtually had it all to ourselves.

The next stop in the car was Madaba, which is about one hour south of Amman. It's famous for its mosaic pavements and an old mosaic map of the Holy Land and religious sites across the Middle East before borders were made. The mosaics themselves are very impressive considering their age, however the Mosaic Park is a rip off considering half of the sites weren't open when we went...nevermind. We did visit a nice church, which had a bell tower you could climb to get a view. Dad, it would seem that I have your gene for fear of heights after all. I started to climb the tower, thinking nothing of it, but then looked up at the huge bells ahead of me and got very dizzy and couldn't take a step further. Jason made it to the top and informed me that I'd missed out on a cracking view...oh dear. I hope this doesn't become an issue for me...

The Nissan Sunny had successfully made it around the Dead Sea, Karak and Madaba and it was time to head back to Amman for another Hasheem restaurant fill...yummy!

Posted by bloorsontour 01:59 Archived in Jordan Comments (3)

Amman, Jordan

"Welcome to Jordan"

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Our hotel was in downtown Amman, where all the locals do business, go to mosque, eat and socialise. It's a refreshing change from Asia, a completely different feel and new culture to get excited about. The eery call to prayer rings out over the city, theres new food to explore and the smell of shisha pipes in the air. As you walk down the street everybody says "Welcome to Jordan". There was no time to sleep off the jet lag, instead we wanted to explore.

Our first visit was a food stop at Jafra restaurant... delicious! We sat out on the terrace to people watch and feasted on halloumi, spiced green beans, pitta and lamb pieces in houmus. I was in my element. Jason has also found a taste for Jordan coffee, served strong and infused with cardamon. A lovely anniversary meal.

We then headed down to the souk, the mosque and explored the ancient amphitheatre that sits in the heart of downtown Amman. We spent a good amount of time just sitting in the amphitheatre, soaking up the atmosphere and surroundings. The landscape is hilly and the houses line steep streets that make way for the amphitheatre at the bottom. We wandered up through the sand coloured streets that occasionally had a brightly coloured piece of art painted onto buildings in stark contrast and reached the top, the Amman citadel. By the time we got there it was probably about 5.30pm and we virtually had the place to ourselves. There are interesting ruins, but more impressive than that is the view. Amman looks beautiful at sunset. We sat and watched the sun go down, cast shadows over the ruins, listen to family parties in the streets and the call to prayer.

The next day we hopped on a local bus to Jaresh, an hour north of Amman and Jordan's second tourist attraction. And again, we were virtually the only ones there. We had a brilliant day exploring the ancient ruins of this city. It compared to Pompeii in Italy and Ephesus in Turkey, but in some ways more impressive as you didn't have to fight your way through the tourists and instead take in the enormity of this ancient city and how it used to be. I hope the photos do it justice...

It's such a shame...many people have told us that tourism has dramatically dropped due to the recent unrest in the Middle East. Jordan borders Syria, Israel and Egypt, all of which have bee, or are still at war, yet Jordan is a very peaceful country and nobody should be put off by its neighbours unrest.

Our second day was topped off with a cracking evening meal. It was a table of salad, pita, houmus, falafel and drinks for two all for just £2.40...bargain. It's Hasheem restaurant and its always packed with locals. There's not an extensive menu, but their falafal is the best we've ever had.

A brilliant first two days here and we're looking forward to hiring a car to explore the country ourselves tomorrow.

Posted by bloorsontour 04:53 Archived in Jordan Comments (2)

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