JORDAN( WADI RUM, PETRA, DEAD SEA, MT NEBO, MADABA, AMMAN, JERASH)
- When: December 29, 2019- January 2, 2020
- Where (accommodations): Wadi Rum: Memories Aicha Luxury Camp; Petra: Petra Boutique hotel; Dead Sea (Sweimeh): Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa.
- Transportation: For flight details see Israel post. Ground transportation/guide: From Aqaba border to Memories Aicha Luxury Camp and Camp to Petra- driver Ehab Nada +962 79 527 4040, from Petra to Dead Sea, day tour of Mt Nebo/Madaba/Amman/Jerash and the drive to King Hussein Bridge border – driver Sa’ad Alhamadeen +962 79 556 5036 (use WhatsApp)
- Sights/attractions: Wadi Rum desert, Petra Archeological site, Mt Nebo, Saint George church in Madaba; Amman: Roman Theater, Amman Citadel; Jerash: Roman Ruins of Jerash.
- Food/drinks: Petra: The Cave Bar, Al Wadi Restaurant; Amman: Habibah Sweets, Hashem Restaurant Down Town; Jerash: Restaurants and Gardens Green Valley.
To see the “Lost City” of Petra has been on our bucket list for a while. When we started planning our family trip to Israel and did more research, we realized that we can combine the neighboring countries and ‘kill two birds with one stone’. The planning definitely became a bit more complex due to the border crossing regulations, but we had a lot of time to prepare, luck was on our side, and we managed to see both Israel and Jordan in a short nine day time. For our Jordanian adventure we only had four days on the ground- that is essentially a long weekend, but you can do and see SO much when sleeping in is not on the itinerary 🙂 .
We arrived to Jordan via Eilat/Aqaba border on foot. This border control does not require Jordanian visas in advance, whereas the one near Jerusalem does. The process was pretty simple. We took a cab from our hotel in Eilat, Israel and first paid the exit taxes on the Israel side of the border. Credit card was accepted, so no cash was needed. Then we walked over to the passport control and afterwards simply followed the path to the border of Jordan. We had Jordan Pass – a package that allows you to see over 40 famous sights in Jordan and also waves the tourist visa fees that are around 40 JOD (~55 USD). You must buy the pass PRIOR to entering Jordan (linked above to buy online) and have at least three night stay in the country. We showed the passports and the Jordan Pass and were out of the customs area and greeted by our driver. The Pass was extremely useful for the rest of our stay- it covers entrance to Petra, Wadi Rum, Amman Citadel, Ruins of Jerash plus the cost of the visa. After doing the math we calculated that we saved at least 30+ USD each. Added value for something that cannot be measured in money and that we did not have much of – time. The lines for the Jordan Pass holders were significantly shorter than those who had to buy the new tickets to enter each attraction.
Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum is a protected area in the south of Jordan set on a high plateau at the western edge of the Arabian desert. Incredible landscape, valleys and sand dunes, rock formations and the feeling like you are on another planet- that was our first destination in Jordan. We hired a driver through Memories Aicha Luxury Camp– there was a lot of back and forth via Whatsapp with a camp manager and then he gave us direct number for the driver, which made things a lot easier to streamline. From Aqaba border the drive was pleasant and took about 1.5hrs to reach Wadi Rum village. Here we changed the vehicle into a 4X4 jeep and a local bedouin driver took us to the camp. But not before we did a little shopping – tourists that we are, we wanted to get the head scarfs that are worn by many locals.
NOW we are ready for the Jeep ride and the camp experience 🙂 . Actually, the head covers proved to be very useful. Even though it was a sunny and seemingly warm day, riding in an open jeep was freezing. We needed gloves and warm jackets every time the car was moving. However, as soon as we started walking, we were hot and all layers would come off. We booked a 3 hour jeep ride tour through the camp and it was amazing afternoon excursion.
FUN IN THE SAND
First stop was the red sand dune that you can climb (we even saw some people going down on a board!). The sand is super soft and warm- highly recommend taking off the shoes and leaving them at the bottom of the dune- nobody will take them. Those that walked with their shoes on, had them full of sand and that made the climb much harder. It was super fun to just go barefoot and feel the desert under your toes.
At the base of the dune (and almost at every other stop) there were locals offering tea.
They didn’t ask to pay in some of the places, it was mainly based on donation- just give whatever change you have.
Soon we arrived to Khazali– the area where the water collects in the desert and therefore it has been regarded as a holy/sacred/blessed site. The rocks have several inscriptions in early script of Arabic, some petroglyphs and Hismaic.
The path between the rocks is narrow and was a bit crowded, but was worth a visit.
THE LITTLE BRIDGE
The tour continued to The Little Bridge– another popular Wadi Rum destination in a beautiful Khor al Ajram. It’s a small natural arch beautifully positioned overlooking the red sand desert.
The views are amazing from the top, but to get the best picture of the arch, you need to climb sort of halfway- that allows you to get a good angle with the blue sky under the bridge.
Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) was a British liaison officer. He served with rebel forces during the successful Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks (1916-1918). Lawrence’s House – or what’s left of this building is also popular amongst 4X4 tours. Legend has it that Lawrence stayed and stored guns here.
It is built upon the remains of a Nabataean building and now is just a rubble. I loved the view from the top of the rock behind. It was so quiet and peaceful away from the rest of the tourists. I imagine that’s what Mars looks like 🙂 . This desert is surely mind blowing.
When our driver said he is taking us to see a mushroom, we were all- huh? But this big rock definitely looks like a giant mushroom in the middle of the desert 🙂 . Not much else around, but it is good for the fun photos.
ABU KHASHABA CANYON
This was our last stop before going back to the camp and we had a chance to get some exercise- the driver dropped us off on one side of the path and told us he would meet us on the other side. We are on our own in the desert!
It was actually a pleasant stroll until the canyon narrowed and we had to climb up some rocks to get to the other side. No special rock climbing skills required- we helped the parents and had some good laughs. It took around just half an hour.
MEMORIES AICHA CAMP
We go camping in the summer near a lake in the woods, but this was not even close to your typical camping experience. It would be fair to say we were GLAMPING! Just pulling into the camp you can tell this is going to be super special- I have not seen anything like it before.
There are a few different ‘tent’ options to choose from- Executive, Panoramic (glass bubbles) and Junior. On the inside they all look somewhat similar, but the bubbles allow you to watch the stars from your bed. We decided to take a free star gazing tour with the guide and booked Junior tents for half the cost than the glass bubble.
This is what we got and we all could not have been happier. They are essentially individual houses with a tent shaped roof, beautifully decorated and warm inside (that is a key in a desert). All came with a bathroom and a shower, as well as the faux fur robes that were perfect in the evening for walking around the camp and looking at the stars. Desert gets very chilly as soon as the sun sets, so make sure to pack gloves, hat and a few warm layers.
Buffet dinner and a plentiful breakfast were included in the price and were served in a beautiful hall built into a cliff.
It used to be in a giant glass dome, but at the time when we visited it was under construction.
The highlight of the night was the star gazing tour led by Patrick. He does it every night! I am sure time varies depending on sunset, but ours started at 8pm. No need to register in advance, just wear warm clothes, comfortable shoes and meet at the set time near reception. It was a good amount of guests that joined and we all walked through the desert until the nearest sand dune and away from the lights of the camp. Definitely bring either a flashlight or your phone for the walk since there is no lit up path.
Patrick divided the group in two and while one was taking photos, he gave lots of interesting info about the constellations, stars, taught us how to map the sky- it was a far better lesson than any of my astronomy classes back in highschool.
After about half an hour he took the pictures of the second group and it still is hard to believe this is a real photo. We look like we are photoshopped in there. Bring a memory stick or external drive to get the copy of the best quality photo. Otherwise he can send it via WhatsApp, though most likely it will be when you get service away from the camp. There was no wifi or any cell service on premises, so we were off the grid for almost 24 hours- pretty good digital detox 🙂 !
After a delicious breakfast we were ready to leave ‘Mars’ and go back to the real world. There was a bit of a misunderstanding regarding transportation to the Wadi Rum Village where we had agreed to meet the driver at 8.30am. Apparently there is a free shuttle from the camp, but it only leaves at 8.30, so we would be late and we have a limited window of daylight to see Petra. When all transfers were set up with the camp manager, he never mentioned a shuttle or any other driver needed from the camp to the village. It does make sense that a 4X4 is required to get to the camp through the sand, but I feel like it could have been better explained in advance. We had agreed for a pick up from the camp and delivery to the hotel in Petra, so that was what we paid for and had those expectations. Luckily the staff sorted it out and called a bedouin driver early in the morning to get us to the village for some extra cost. Either way, this did not ruin the experience, I would highly recommend this camp for anyone planning a trip to Wadi Rum desert.
The drive to Petra Boutique hotel was two hours, we stopped for a little bathroom/coffee/souvenir shop break. I think all drivers stop there and it was overpriced, so don’t bother buying anything until you actually get to Petra- there are a lot better deals at the markets in town. Hotel is brand new, just recently opened and we were not sure what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised how nice it actually was. Most importantly it was in the perfect location- only 5 minute walk to the entrance to Petra Archaeological Park.
The closer hotel would be only Movenpick and the price per night would have been at least three times more 🙂 . Petra Boutique hotel had modern, spacious rooms, nice sunset view, but for the light sleepers I recommend bringing ear plugs. It is located on the busy street and if you are facing that side, there will be some outside noise. We only stayed for one night and were very happy with the experience, especially the short walk to one of the New Wonders of the World!
PETRA BY DAY
The ancient city of Petra in Jordan became one of the 7 New Wonders of the World when it was chosen in 2007 by a vote of 100 million people. Rose- red carved rocks, temples, tombs – it has been featured in multiple movies and we were very excited to finally see it with our own eyes. Jordan Pass covered the entrance, so we got to skip the long line and were at the gate in no time. The park is huge, you could spend a week here and still have things left to explore. We only have one day and one night, so we pick up the pace while we try to take in as much of this wonder as possible.
Bab Al Siq
‘Bab Al Siq’ is gateway to the ‘siq’ in Arabic. Three huge Djinn blocks- monuments carved out of the rock, Obelisk Tomb sculpted by the Nabataeans in the 1st century AD is our first sight once we enter the park.
The tomb has five people buried here and the estimated time is in the reign of Malichus II (40-70 AD).
This Dam was built to protect Nabatean capital from floods that arrived during the seasonal rain from the mountains and hills across the valley and was renovated by the government in 1964 in the same way that was originally built by the Nabateans.
The dam protected the city of Petra by redirecting the flood waters into a tunnel, which was later titled the ‘Dark Tunnel’. During the excavation, it was found that the original name of the old city was Raqeem. However, upon their arrival, the Greeks renamed the city ‘Petra,’ meaning “The rock”.
The Siq- natural sandstone gorge with the main road that leads to the city, starts from the Dam and ends at the Treasury. The main part of the Siq is created by natural rock formation and the rest is carved by the Nabataeans.
The ancient main entrance leading to the city of Petra used to have a triumphal arch, but it collapsed in 1895. On both sides of the Siq, there are channels to draw water from Wadi Musa (the Valley of Moses), from outside the city to the inside.
The floor of the Siq is paved with stone slabs, part of which can be viewed in its original location.
Parts of the Siq were decorated with Nabataean sculptures, lots of them representing gods. It is believed that these statues were situated very close and even adjacent to the channels due to the Nabataean belief that water was sacred. On the left side of the wall (walking towards Treasury) there is Sabinos Alexandros Station – a set of baetyls- sacred stone blocks, which were the work of Sabinos- the master of religious ceremonies to honor Dusares at Adraa.
Pay attention to the walls as you walk the Siq and soon after the Sabinos Alexandros Station you will see Camel Caravan Reliefs (100-50 BC). The carving about a third larger than real life represents a group of camels and drivers entering Petra. The more eroded carving shows similar caravan leaving Petra.
These carvings symbolize the constant procession of people and goods entering and leaving Petra, where economy was based on the caravan trade.
The Treasury (Al Khazna)
The most photographed place in Jordan, The Treasury is the place that I always associated Petra with. It is just as beautiful as we have imagined- magnificent, almost 40 meters high, decorated with Corinthian capitals, figures and more.
The Treasury is crowned by a funerary urn, which according to local legend conceals a pharaoh’s treasure. Although the original function is still a mystery, The Treasury was probably constructed in the 1st century BC and the urn represented a memorial for royalty.
Now that we are here, we definitely spent some time admiring it, had some tea and snacks and took lots and lots of photos 🙂 .
While the parents were getting some rest, Sean, my sister and brother in law decided to go up the steep path to get a view of The Treasury from a higher perspective. It’s not a very hard walk, but grippy shoes are recommended.
To take pictures at the first viewpoint is free- there is a little corner to sit and a short line forms while tourists get the desired shot. To take photos at the highest point, you have to pay the locals that are sitting there with some blankets and pillow props.
The view to be honest is not THAT different, but it is from a higher perspective and the blanket adds a touch of color. Since this is the place that we most looked forward to seeing, we did not mind giving a few Jordanian dinars each for the long awaited photo opportunity.
Now that we got to see the most anticipated site in Petra, we strolled down the path and just admired the views. One of many worth mentioning is The Theater. Carved into the side of the mountain at the foot of the High Place of Sacrifice, the theatre consists of three rows of seats separated by passageways.
The monument was carved in the mountainside during the reign of King Aretas IV (4BC-AD27) the Romans rebuilt the stage back wall. It could accommodate 4000 spectators. Right near The Theater there is a big opening at the Siq and you can see a place called The Street of Facades.
It is a name given to the row of monumental Nabatean tombs.
The Urn Tomb
Cut deeply into the cliff face of the Khuntha Ridge, its vertical facade ends in a pediment topped by an urn-shaped ornament that gives it its name.
It is sometimes referred to as Al Mahakma (The Court). This name originates from the local Bedouin who believed it was used as a courthouse and that the vaults downstairs were prisons. We did not go all the way to the top, it was getting late in the afternoon and we chose to continue down the path and admire this tomb from the distance.
Just a short walk away from the Urn Tomb, right near The Colonnaded Street stands the grand monumental complex covering an area of around 7560 sq meters called Great Temple. This complex represents one of the major archaeological and architectural components of central Petra. Since 1993 archaeologists from Brown University have been Excavating this temple precinct.
The style and quality of the Temple’s elaborate design suggest that the sanctuary was constructed by the end of the first century BCE by the Nabataean, who combined their native traditions with the classical spirit. The Great Temple was in use until some point in the late Byzantine Period.
The Temenos Gate and Qasr al -Bint
At the Western end of the Collonaded street you will see The Temenos Gate. This gate is an entranceway to the Qasr al -Bint temple precinct. The gate led to the holy area around the temple or ‘temenos’ as it was called.
Qasr Bint Far’un (Palace of the Pharaoh’s Daughter) is Petra’s oldest temple complex. Its name comes from local legend that the same pharaoh who hid his treasure in the urn of The Treasury promised his daughter’s hand in marriage to the engineer who could develop a system to bring water to the palace. Qasr al-Bint is a typical Hellenistic temple where only priests could enter inside and worshippers remained outside in the open temenos where they may have offered animal sacrifices.
This was the last place that we saw before we decided that it’s getting late and that we need to turn around and return if we want to get back to the main gate before dark. Well, then there is a story of the donkeys…
Family that rides donkeys together…
Every trip has a story (or several). If I had to pick the most memorable story from this trip, it would be the one about how we were debating on going back to the hotel one minute, and sitting on the donkeys the next. We had absolutely no plans to get on a donkey on this trip. My mom especially was against it, as she read somewhere that donkeys are abused in Petra. We saw pretty much everything that we wanted to see (and all that was possible in the short time we had there) except for The Monastery. We looked at the map, saw how far and high up on the mountain it is and realized that we have absolutely no chance to make it there and back before sunset. At the same time we are near the place where the locals rent donkeys and they are shouting “Monastery, donkey to the Monastery!” We were confused- isn’t it too late to even attempt a hike up there? “No no, you will make it no problem! With the donkey you will be able to see The Monastery and then we will take you to the back gate and drive you to the hotel- no need to walk all the way back through The Siq”. Ok, well if THAT is the case and we get to see one of the most spectacular places in Petra, we are now reconsidering the donkey ride. We look at the donkeys, they don’t seem skinny or abused. My mom does not speak English, but I can see she is shaking her head and is getting mad that we are even talking to those people. We do the math- the walk back is long and up the hill. It will be pushing to even make it back before dark. Sean agrees on a price (90 JOD for the 6 of us) and next thing you know we are sitting in the saddles.
Yes, my mom was mad, but as the ride went on, we reasoned with her (and convinced ourselves)- this is the ONLY way we get to see The Monastery. Also, we still have night Petra to see, so the fact that we don’t need to walk back is a huge relief. My mom finally relaxed, we all were enjoying the ride, except for poor Alius. His donkey was the only female in the pack and did not want anything to do with the rest of our donkeys 🙂 . So she took off way ahead, taking Alius and one of the guides with her. We could see that the guide was trying to tell something to Alius on how to control the unruly donkey, but as he does not speak English, all the efforts were for nothing. We all rode together and caught up with Alius on the top of the hill.
Well, we have arrived, we see the gate and the canyon below, but where is The Monastery?! The guides are looking at each other, looking at us and then they go: “We were told to take you to the back gate”. Oh no no no. There was a lot of shouting, they put Sean on the phone with supposedly the person who rented us the donkeys. I heard my husband (who is typically a very calm person) shout- go ahead, call the police, we are not paying you anything! Well, at this point there was no way now to make it back down and up to The Monastery as the sun was about to set. We agreed that they will take us back to the hotel. Six of us squished in the pick up truck and were dropped off back in town. We paid half the price and were pretty disappointed on how we were treated. Later on we found out that those people are not Bedouins, but B’douls- the tribe that claims to be from descendants from the Nabataeans, but as our guide put it- they are actually gypsies that arrived many years ago to Petra and now government allows them to run the donkey business on site. I don’t know what is true, but moral of a long story- beware of scams and start your day earlier, so no donkey rides would be needed to see all of the attractions.
PETRA BY NIGHT
If you are lucky to be visiting Petra on Monday, Wednesday or Friday be sure to check out this magical activity. The tickets are not covered by Jordan Pass and you need cash to purchase them at the Visitor Center. We happened to be in Petra on Monday, so we bought the tickets during the day, as soon as we arrived. I think ~24 USD per person is a bit pricey, but in my opinion the experience was worth it.
Confirm the start time on the day of the event (for us the option was 7pm or 9pm). We heard that there are less people during the first round, so we went for the 7pm and were very lucky we did- as we walked back there were so many people, you could not even see the candles lining the path! To me the peaceful, quiet walk through The Siq was almost more amazing than the actual light show at The Treasury.
Once you arrive at the opening, you are asked to be seated or stand in the very back as the space is limited. Bedouin was playing Jordanian music, we got some tea- it was a very nice way to end our day at the incredible Petra.
Before the show we wanted a light snack and a drink, so we checked out The Cave Bar– right near the entrance to the park.
It is a pretty cool bar literally built into the cave, but the service was extremely slow- even to get hummus and bread was well over 30 minutes. We got the food and woofed it down as quickly as possible so we don’t miss Petra by Night show.
After a good walk to The Treasury and back, we needed a proper dinner, so we grabbed a cab to Al Wadi restaurant in Wadi Musa.
The town was very busy, but we were able to get a table and actually really enjoyed the food. It was very flavorful, fresh and good sized portions.
Last day of 2019 and we are ready for another exciting activity- floating in the Dead Sea! We arranged the driver through Petra Boutique hotel and liked him so much that we asked if he can be our guide/driver for the following day as well. Sa’ad was very friendly, told us a lot about the country, customs, answered all our questions despite having a cold and barely any voice left. On the way to Sweimeh, we stopped for some panoramic views of the drying out Dead Sea.
Sadly the water levels are falling at an average rate of three feet per year.
We chose Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa for our last two nights in Jordan, one of them being the New Years Eve. Hotel was really nice with several outdoor pools, spa and access to the Dead Sea where we went as soon as we had a light lunch.
BEWARE: The salt content is super high, so don’t shave a few days prior and don’t go in if you have any wounds, because it will hurt A LOT. Another tip- make sure to wear water shoes- we brought ours from home, but I am sure hotel has some for rent/sale. The rest is very simple- go in the water barely above your knees and slowly sit down, like sitting on a bed and FLOAT.
Don’t splash or swim, so that the water does not get into yours or anyone else’s eyes or mouth. It is incredible how light we felt in this water! It is actually hard to lower the legs down! Alius had a slight panic when he could not bring his feet to the ground even though he was right near the shore. After this experience he did not stay in much longer- he said he felt like he was paralyzed. The rest of the crew loved it and had a lot of fun up until sunset. Another activity we felt like we had to try- the whole body mud mask. The bucket of mud was right near the water, so you scoop up the mud and apply all over the body.
Wait about 15 minutes for it to dry and then go back in the water to scrub it off. Lastly- wash off in the fresh water shower right near the beach. I had to wash off my face before 15 minutes were up because it felt like it was burning. The skin was slightly pink after for a bit, but the rest of the body felt great- super soft and smooth. It is not recommended to stay in the salty water for a long time, so it was just enough for us before the sunset.
The last sunset of 2019 was beautiful- just like the year we have just had. It was great to be able to see it together with the family.
We had a few more hours till the New Year’s dinner and the party, so some of us went to relax in the room, some to the indoor spa (which also has a Dead Sea water pool!). Sean and I had massages and we really enjoyed them.
Now THAT is what we call vacation (who cares that we relaxed for only a few hours, it still counts : ) )!
New Year’s Eve
There are no restaurants around and we did not want to go anywhere, so we booked an Arabian style buffet dinner at the hotel. One night on this trip that we are actually dressing up!
The food selection was huge- cold, hot, spicy, mild, stations upon stations inside and outside on the patio- there really was something for everyone.
We finished eating and planned to relax a bit in the rooms before going to a party- another extra charge by the hotel, with a promise of entertainment and even a belly dancer. Well, just as we get to the room, electricity goes out (as well as wifi) and we are left to either to sit in the dark or go to the party early, since that area of the hotel had generator. We went in, found our assigned couch and looked to order a drink. Apparently you cannot buy wine by the glass (despite them just selling it by glass at dinner), there is no water for sale either ( but you can get beer or whiskey no problem). The place is filling up with mainly locals and most of them are smoking inside! We were not impressed to say the least. After one of the waiters told Sean that I could come and pick a glass of wine and then when I came to the bar everyone told me I must buy the bottle, I was ready to leave. We spoke to the manager and got our money back, but then they sold our seats and a Jordanian family sat right next to my sister. Well, we decided to wait it out till midnight, so we can meet the New Year all together despite the not so fun party. After a while, the same manager came over to us standing near the wall and told us he had a table for all of us. With a complimentary bottle of wine. At least just before midnight the mood has lifted and we were able to enjoy this strange party. There were no fireworks outside, clearly New Years is not celebrated big in Jordan.
Finally the dancer showed up and about thirty minutes past midnight we called it a night. It was definitely not your typical New Year’s Eve, but of course it was nice to be able to start 2020 with the family.
First day of the new year and we are not spending it sleeping in. Our driver is waiting for us a little after eight in the morning and we are ready for a full day tour! Our first stop is just half an hour away. Approximately 710 meters above sea level, this is believed to be the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land.
On the clear day you can see the valley of the River Jordan, West Bank city Jericho as well and Jerusalem. Basilica of Moses on top of Mount Nebo was built sometime between 350 and 380 C.E.
The new building that displays the archaeological remains and offers place of worship, was extensively renovated and re-opened in 2016.
Madaba is an ancient town in Jordan and only 15 minute drive from Mount Nebo. It’s known for its 6th-century mosaic map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George.
We did not go anywhere else in this town, just visited the famous church.
Our tour of Jordan continues and about 40 minutes later we arrive to the capital and the largest city- Amman. As I mentioned earlier, our driver was amazing. He did not sit quietly during the car ride, but instead gave us the history of the Kingdom of Jordan.
As a visual he used the money- each banknote symbolises different ruler and he told us the stories about each period, royal family dramas and intrigues.
Before we know it, we have arrived and are entering the famous landmark in Jordanian capital- Roman Theater.
This 6000 seat theater was built in the Roman period when the city was known as Philadelphia! Jordan Pass covered the entrance fee, so if you buy one, I suggest printing it out (each place stamped the paper). I think you can also show the barcode on the phone, but having printed passes were easier.
This historical site, just like the Roman Theater is located in downtown Amman and is hard to miss. The Citadel is considered an important site because it has had a long history of occupation by many civilizations.
The major buildings at the site are the Temple of Hercules, a Byzantine church, and the Umayyad Palace.
Most of the buildings still visible at the site are from the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods. As this site is on the hill, you will also get an amazing view of the city.
As you may know by now, we like to eat, especially sweets! This shop was recommended by my friend from work and we asked the driver to stop by there. He knew exactly where it was and clearly it’s a popular place based on the line of locals waiting outside for the delicious knafeh !
It’s warm and sweet (but not too sweet) and has some kind of cheese in the bottom. We loved it and just wished we bought more 🙂 .
Hashem Restaurant Down Town
Well, since we don’t have time for a proper lunch, we started with sweets and then switched to a savory meal- best hummus and falafel in town!
There was no parking around the busy place, so our driver ran inside and bought us the stuff while we waited in the car! It was super fresh and tasty.
Just around 45 minute drive north of Amman lays an ancient city of Jerash. It’s known for the ruins of the walled Greco-Roman settlement of Gerasa just outside the modern city. I have been to Italy and have seen the ruins of Pompeii- this is as close, if not bigger in size Roman ruins site that I could compare to.
After Petra this was my second favorite place in Jordan. We were really blown away on how great the site is taken care of and how not crowded it was. Granted we were here on January 1st, Wednesday afternoon, but I feel a place like this would be swarming with tourists any day.
Jordan Pass once again covered the entrance fee, so we did not have to pay anything to get in.
We took a TON of photos, but how can you not, when it’s so incredibly amazing wherever you look!
It’s been a full day of exploring and now we just need to have dinner before we head back to the hotel for our last night in Jordan. The driver took us to a place called Restaurants and Gardens Green Valley where we had way too much (but very good) Jordanian food.
Less than 2 hours later we were safely dropped back off at the hotel and that completed our Jordanian adventure. Early in the morning our favorite driver took us to King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge border, where we continued our journey in Israel.
Do you have a long weekend with nothing planned? Go to Jordan and you will see the whole country : ) ! I am kidding of course. We would’ve loved to have more time here, especially in the amazing Petra or to relax another day by the Dead Sea. Regardless of the limited time, we definitely made the best out of it. It was enough to visit the most famous sites, get to know great people and sample some delicious food.