I have dreamed of going to Jordan since I was little, maybe it was a picture I saw of Petra in a book. Maybe it was Indiana Jones. I don’t know. What I know is this destination has been on my to-go list for a very long time.
I finally made it in the winter of 2015. I travelled with friends and co-workers for the National and Liberation Holiday in February. I expected it to be like the rest of the Middle East, dry and still warm enough for a Canadian girl to get by with nothing more then a light coat. I was wrong. We landed to snow on the ground. We went out to rent the car and the rental place was worried about having us drive in the snow. I let then know that I have driven in the snow before and was not worried about the weather conditions. Then we began our next adventure.
We took off the find the hotel we were staying at in downtown Amman. We were using directions and a map from Google. We got lost a few times and passed the hotel on the first go and had to figure out how to turn around and get back. We did eventually make it to the hotel.
It was a small little place right near the Theatre. It was clean and the rooms were warm. We went out looking for dinner but not much was open at the time. I did find some cheap boots and gloves to help battle the cold. We went back to the hotel to plan what the next day would look like.
In the morning we had a nice breakfast. The secret to travelling a bit cheaper is to find places that have breakfast included, as long as they are not priced more. Eat breakfast as your big meal and make a sandwich or take a piece of fruit as a snack or lunch. They you only have to worry about buying dinner.
We went walking down to see the old Theatre in Amman. It was amazing the way the modern city had been built around the old ruin. It was such a contrast between new and old. Next to the big theatre was a smaller one that had no other footprints tracking through the new snow.
Among us we had an Aussie travelling with us. He had never had the chance to play in the snow before so we stopped to make a snow man. He began to pull snow into a big pile, like a triangle. I had a small private laugh and showed him it was easier to make a snow ball and roll it in the snow to the size desired. So we made a snow man and named him Olaf and then left him for the other tourists to see.
We headed up the hill to get to the Amman Citadel and the Temple of Hercules. Along the way my friend found some kids playing in the street and got them to throw snowballs at me. That turned into a snowball fight with everyone against him. When we were all tired and wet we continued up the hill.
The site had many different ruins from a variety of eras. We spent the afternoon there and then got lunch. At this time we separated. Two of us were headed to Wadi Rum desert and one was staying in Amman to look at potential schools to work at.
We took the car and began the long drive to Aqaba where we spent the night before heading into the desert. The interesting thing about the drive was looking across the Dead Sea and being so close to Israel/Occupied Palestine.
As we drove and it got dark. There are little to no lights on the highway as you drive unless you drive through a town or a truck stop. There were lots of sharp turns and hills where you could not see, especially in the dark of the desert. It was an adventure drive.
We could see another road running parallel to us as we drove but never were the roads meeting or having turn offs to meet. I soon realized that the road was in Israel/Occupied Palestine and we would not meet up with the road unless we found one of the few sanctioned boarder crossings. Even before we reached Aqaba we had to go through 2 check points on the highway where they checked to see if we had stowaways or if we had illegally entered Jordan.
As we drove through Aqaba we did not see our hotel. We followed the road until we reached a round about and we took a turn which quickly has signage that we were at the boarder to Saudi Arabia. We went to turn around but as we were a jeep with 4 military men approached us. We stopped and so did they. They let us know the crossing was closed and we should not be in the area, we let them know we were a little lost but has planned to turn around. They let us go every easily.
We took the road back to Aqaba to find our hotel. As we were driving the outskirts we saw a small sign for our hotel and managed to check-in and go to bed.
Wadi Rum desert in Jordan is a vast expanse of rock and sand. It’s somewhere you can get lost and never be found. It is also a place with no noise, no light, and once you leave the tiny village of maybe 100 people there is no interference.
We booked an overnight camel/jeep/hiking tour. It was a full day event. We set of very early from Aqaba to make it into the Wadi Rum village for 10am when our tour started.
We began with a camel ride out into the desert. We rode for about an hour before we arrived at a large rock feature that we would climb up for a view of the vast desert. At that time we left our camel and guide to join with a new guide and his jeep.
We took of to amazing rock features deeper in the desert some that has ancient carvings in the rock left by the people long ago.
We got to break for lunch and have a traditional style meal with our guide. Then it was back in the jeep. We travelled around all day to different features to climb and explore.
In the evening we went to a small desert camp. It was run mostly from solar power and had a single generator that only ran when needed. At camp there were other people who had been on different tours through the dessert that day. We got a chance to talk with many of them.
Together we had a traditional meal with meats that had been cooked in an underground oven with hot coals. After dinner we sat around the fire drinking sweet tea and sharing tales. Then it was time to sit outside and look at the stars. I have never seen more stars then staring up at the sky that night. There was no light pollution to be found for hundreds of kilometres in any direction. They sky was full of like.
Ajlun Castle was a small detour that we took. In the end it was a neat castle that we were able to go inside and walk around.
An image of the Dead Sea with Israel/Occupied Palestine in the back ground.
I was a bit disappointed by the Dead Sea. The coast was littered with trash up and down, except where the resorts has fenced off their access.
It was expensive to use the public facilities if you wanted to change or shower or in any way go into the Dead Sea.
We found a small local pull out and thought about using that area to go float in the Dead Sea but there were a few people around and when we went down to the water line they followed us.
What they don’t really tell you is what the high salt content of the sea does to your skin. It burns a lot. You dipped our hands into the water and you could instantly feel any cut or hang nail or irritation you had on your hand. In only a few seconds out hands were painfully irritated by the water. We decided that we did not want to go into the Dead Sea if that was what it had done to our hands in such a short time.
Ma’in was a natural hot spring not to far from the Dead Sea but the rode to get there was crazy. We went up from the lowest place on Earth at 423m below sea-level and drove up a mountain in some sharp and scary switchbacks and for almost 1 vertical kilometre before going down the other side with more sharp switchbacks and arriving at the resort.
Mt. Nebo is where Moses was able to view the Holy Land he would never enter. That’s how it was explained to me by a friend.
On a clear day you can see many sacred and holy sights from the top of Mt. Nebo. We did not have a very clear day.
Jerash was an amazing archaeological park in Northern Jordan. It’s a huge space with old baths, temples, roads, and a souk area. It was great to walk around and see how long things can last when they are well made.