Jordan is like a sandpit for adults – a fascinating little Middle Eastern country, with lots of great things to do in and around the sand! Travel distances are not long from one highlight to the next, and a lot of the country can be seen in around 10 days.
My journey started in the capital of Amman. Like any big cities, it is a bustling business centre, a mix of old and new, but not a reflection of the true Jordan. I had arrived very late at night, and slumped into my hotel bed. Suddenly I was rudely awoken at around 3.30am by the dawn chorus of muezzins calling all to prayer. I had failed to notice that my room was right next to the mosque, with loudspeaker aimed at my room! I had to laugh. Yep, my fault for forgetting to put my earplugs in. Welcome to Islam.
Leaving Amman and driving southwest, the next stop was the Dead Sea, a large, lazy-looking, overly-salty lake, surrounded by beige desert, Jordan on one side, Israel on the other. We paid our entrance fees to enter a public beach with shower facilities (very important unless you like feeling like a double-salted chip), dug out mineral-rich mud from the shore and caked ourselves in it and let it dry. Well-baked like two mud pies, we then went for a “float” in the Dead Sea to get the mud off. The water was very buoyant and had a strange, thickness about it – kind of felt like bathing in baby oil. We were careful not to get any of the salty water in our eyes – it stings like mad. But the result when we got out? Skin like babies bottoms…nice!
After our inexpensive and completely natural “spa treatment” we continued on to the town of Wadi Musa. The backdrop of hills innocently hides a most incredible secret – the fabled city of Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world! Walking down the 700m “siq” (gorge entrance) to the hidden rock city of Petra, the mystery builds until finally you catch your first breathtaking glimpse of the Treasury – a huge, elaborate façade carved right out of the rock face. The colours of the rock – swirls of pink, orange, red and brown – are stunning. We spent two days wandering amongst the rocks and hills of Petra, admiring it’s temples, tombs, Roman amphitheatre, sacrificial alter, and monastery. Petra is one of those fascinating places in the world that has to be seen to be believed. Bedouin people that still dwell within this ancient rock town, adding to its charm.
So far we were very impressed with this little country, and the Jordanians had also been welcoming and friendly. It was now time for a little adventure in the Wadi Rum desert. We hired a local Bedouin, Khether, (he spoke no English, and we no Arabic) to take us on camels into the desert overnight. We once again found ourselves wowed by the amazing rich colours of the sand – orange and red – and rising out of the sand, huge rock “jebels” (hills). Another stunning place, I could see why Lawrence of Arabia fell in love with it! Khether brewed mint tea over a small fire, and a delicious dinner was delivered by 4-wheel drive (Arab take-out?). The desert has an amazing calming effect on your soul, and we went to sleep in the wonderful silence. Ahhh – sweet dreams are always guaranteed under the cloak of a romantic Arabian night sky!
For anyone wanting a short, but highly interesting holiday, with lots of variety and plenty of “wow” factor, then Jordan is just the ticket.
It is an extremely satisfying place to visit, feeling like body, soul and mind have been enriched, nurtured and enlightened by everything we did and saw.