We have wanted to travel to the Middle East but never knew when the time was right.
Heeding the travel warnings would never get us there. Since we’re in the region and traveler’s current blogs say “no worries” Bill said “let’s go”.
Flying over Jordan was at first just miles of barren land. As the plane neared touch down this humongous beige city propped up on beige soil appeared out of nowhere. It was fabulous!
We’re doing this.
Sore throats made us want to head to bed. Instead we ventured out to tour Amman and the famous Citadel, considered to be amongst the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places and occupied by many civilizations dating back to 1650 BC.
*click on photos to enlarge
From the Citadel’s plateau there was a 360° view of the city where a Mosque seemed to be on every block and a symphony could be heard during the call to prayer.
Nestled at the base of the Citadel in the foothills of the city was the beautiful Roman theater dating back to their occupation in 30 BC.
Ashraf – a cabbie that we used for our drive back to the hotel soon became our ride and protector for the 2 day trip to Petra and the holy lands that lie in the south of Jordan.
Shobak Castle – known as Shawbok in Arabic. Sits high on a hill on the way to Petra. Built in 1115 by Baldwin I of Jerusalem – it was strategically placed on the caravan route between Syria and Arabia allowing Baldwin to manipulate commerce as everyone needed to pass by the castle.
It was enjoyable and at times eerie to soak it all in and try to visualize life within these ruins.
Petra (UNESCO World Heritage site) aka. The Rose City was the nomadic Arab Nabataeans’ capital city in 312 BC. Located on the trade route it became a large trading concourse. The Nabataeans were known for rock carvings and the ability to construct water collecting systems in the barren terrain.
Some of the rock carvings look as they were chiseled with modern day tools . Lines straight as an arrow and curves smoothed with sandpaper.
The camels, donkeys and horses of Petra were delightful.
Unbeknownst to us we had to walk through the Al-Siq gorge to get to the ancient carvings of Petra. It was much like the crescendo of some crazy Italian opera. The build up was insane – where were we going and what would be at the end? We weaved through 30 story high rock formations while gypsies drove past us on horses and carts at the speed of light to take lazy tourists to the first and most famous formation – the Treasury.
It all amounted to experiencing life past and present at its fullest.
Our little 2 star hotel in Petra respected the Muslim way and didn’t serve alcohol. So the heathens that we are left us no choice but to walk to the 5 Star Mövenpick Hotel for wine and dinner. What a way to top off our day.
We visited Jesus’ baptism site near the eastern shore of the Jordan River. Discovered in 1996 by archaeologists to be the actual site. Nearby, the River Jordan at the Israel (occupied Palestine as our guide informed us) Jordan border hundreds of Christians on the Israel side were either fully submerging themselves in the muddied waters or having the water poured over their heads by a clergy. On our Jordanian side a few people submerged themselves without all the fanfare.
The countryside is barren – speckled with bedouin camps, sheep, goats and camels.
We traveled to Mt. Nebo – 817 meters above sea level to where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land and Madaba to the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George to view its 6th century mosaic floor map of the Holy Land.
Lastly to the Dead Sea – 430 meters below sea level. We stayed there for the night, finally succumbing to our colds and dragging off to bed – missing a swim in the sea.