Ok so you were right, we are in Jordan and let me say first impressions are great. The airport is new, modern and very slick. Passport control and visas were easily done and even better the immigration guy was more than happy to joke around with us. He showed us our pictures and then asked of we wanted another one where we are smiling … it was a very good start.
Next we met our guide for the next 4 days …. he is a nice guy, very intelligent and has a lot to say on everything which in a guide can only be a good thing … the problem is, I can never seem to remember the damn guys name ugghh.!
So it was New Years Even when we arrived so a nice Chinese meal (NYE there was nothing available unless you wanted a big party) with Beer from Holand, Wine from Spain and Peeking Duck before slinking back to our hotel room for a rousing game of cards. The only exciting thing that happened in the last few hours of 2013 was that it is a tradition at the stroke of midnight to fire your gun into the air and it seems everyone seems to have guns.
Ok so day 19 …. it started with a city tour of Amman, we got to see the new city, the old city and then the giant citadel at the top of a mountain. The citadel has a most amazing mix if structures and architecture from a roman ruin – the temple of Herculean, a byzantian church and the Umayyad Palace dating back to around AD 720. Most of the buildings were destroyed during a large earthquake but restoration has started and there is a large domed audience hall now fully rebuilt, its great because you can clearly see the new from the old but it gives you a great overall feel of how large these structures really are.
After that we stopped at a Roman Amphitheatre and found the little cross situated directly centre of the semi circle. From this spot your voice can be heard from anywhere in the seats even at a whisper. It was kind of creepy listening to your voice rebound back at yourself even louder than you originally intended.
Then it was a long drive to Wadi Rum. The problem with these short trips is that you try to fit so very much into so little time which means traversing the country to fit in all the big ticket items. The Jordanian Desert for me was one of those “must see” places so we drove and drove and drove before eventually arriving at a small gas station where we transferred into a jeep for our big tour of the desert.
I don’t know if many of you would recognise the name Lawrence of Arabia but back in the early 1900’s the Ottomans occupied Jordan. England sent an officer by the name of Thomas Lawrence to help the Bedouin (Nomad) tribes organise themselves and retake their country. Lawrence was able to persuade the Arabs to coordinate their actions to route the Turkish Army. The main turning point was when they overtook the Turk;s railway that supplied the Turkish Garrison. We actually stopped at a point in the desert where we viewed one of the captured Ottoman Trains and even some of the military equipment they used during this campaign.
The desert itself is so quiet you really do appreciate how much background noise we live with every day. The large stone mountains are slowly being eroded by sand and water and the colours are rich pinks, reds and creams. We visited a small Bedouin camp where we drank and awful tea made out of cardamom seeds and cinnamon before getting back into the tray of the jeep to watch the sunset. Was it particularly safe … perhaps not without seat belts or any safety what so ever but sitting in the back tray of a car slowly cruising through the desert was pretty damn spectacular.
Finally a short drive to Petra where we will be sending two nights, before a quick local dinner at a very very local restaurant before we collapsed into bed exhausted. It has been a very very long day and tomorrow promises to be an even longer day with us getting to visit Petra … oh it will be great. We are seeing a Wonder of the World and I personally can’t wait!!!