Jordan In A Nutshell

Jordan was 12 days that could have realistically been 10 – a week wouldn’t quite have been enough, but 12 included one day where we both said ‘Okay, we’re ready to move on’. If we had more of a budget, we could have spent more time (Desert castles, a leisurely cab ride up from Petra stopping at various sites), but on our shoestring – 10 was enough.

Wadi Rum and Petra definitely stand out – the former for the sheer impressiveness of the canyons and desert landscape combined with massive rock formations that clearly required water to become what they are. Wadi Rum needs more time to explore, and while it didn’t have fennec foxes joining us for dinner as we had in Egypt… a tiny little desert mouse (‘far’ in Bedouin?/Arabic) did!

Petra’s construction – all negative space – is awe-inducing… especially after climbing 800 steps up to the High Place of Sacrifice, or to the Monastery! The architectural combinations are also worth looking at – comparing Roman, Greek, Nabatean, and occasionally ‘other’ into the unique aesthetic that is Petra. The fact that the site is open late is something most people don’t seem to be aware of, meaning that while entry is limited til 6:00pm or so, but sunset – when some of the buildings have the best illumination – isn’t until 7:30 or 8pm! We also enjoyed taking time to speak with some of the Bedouin who work and live at Petra – they have a really unique viewpoint, especially those who still live in caves on the site.

We had amazing seafood at Sara’s Seafood in Amman – a seafood chowder, hot mezzes, and a seafood risotto. Our bill came to about JOD20, but it was more food than we could eat – and I confess to continued lingering effects of shock that Adam was eating fish, calamari, and vegetable products. He started in Egypt and has continued through the entire trip… clearly the Middle East agrees with him in ways we never expected! Despite having steak on the menu at a lot of restaurants, sadly very few in Jordan (or elsewhere) actually have what a Canadian or American would consider steak – it’s thin slices of what looks like cube steak. Commensurate with the price, of course – but the few nights we really wanted red meat, to find the slices of cube steak was… disappointing. Pizzas, though, Jordan can do really well!

Amman and Jerash are not what we entirely expected for Jordan. Both were cities in the old Greek Decapolis League (under the names Philadelphia and Gerasa), and there are still Roman ruins scattered around the cities. Jerash has a gorgeous, massive complex with two theatres, a temple to Artemis and a temple to Zeus, as well as some defunct Byzantine churches. Amman’s Citadel (atop Jebel Amman) has a mixture of remnants, mostly just the tall Temple of Hercules as a Roman remnant, but also an odeon and theatre at the foot of the mountain. For all that the cities are scattered with mosques, it’s really pleasant to see that these other sites are intact. Sadly, we couldn’t get a view of the Dead Sea Scrolls -they’ve been moved from the museum at the Citadel to the new Jordan Museum, which is only open 3x/week for 4 hours at a go; it’s still being completed, and the times didn’t mesh with our days in Amman.

By the time we’d seen all the temples, crusader castles (Ajloun) and mosques and mosaics, we were definitely ready to call it quits. If we had a bigger budget, there were more things we’d do – but we have “done” the major sites in Jordan, and we’re good with that. We definitely want to return one day – preferably when more sites (like Mt Nebo’s church and the Jordan Museum) are open, and we can afford a day or two of diving in Aqaba and another day playing in the Dead Sea!

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