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  • Day20

    A full day walk around the ancient city of Petra, carved into rock around 300BC. We met our guide, Hamsa, at 8.30am, returning to the hotel at 3pm.

    Tickets to Petra vary whether you spend a night in the area (50JD = $100ea), or just visit on a day trip (popular with the cruise ships that dock in Aquaba on the Red Sea, 90JD = $180).

    We took the road less travelled today, leaving the main path not far from the entrance and climbing to the cliff top opposite The Treasury, the most iconic and best preserved building in Petra.

    From there we crossed the valley to the Obelisk and High Place of Sacrifice (finding a cache at both locations ☺), then descended into the valley to see The Treasury and Siq at ground level, before the long, hot walk out.

    We had a welcome swim in the hotel pool, had booked in for a Turkish Bath and massage, but no one was at the centre when we arrived, so grabbed a pizza and headed back for an early night.
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  • Day18

    Our first view of Jordan couldn't have been in greater contrast to Rwanda - not a hill or blade of grass in sight!

    We were met before immigration by a rep from the Jordanian agent we booked through, and were expedited through the "Jordanian" queue with a free visa - getting it in Australia was going to cost us $400 each, or buying it on arrival was $80 each, but as we used a registered Jordanian agent, he arranged it for free.

    He handed us over to Abed, our driver for the next 5 days and we headed towards Madaba, 30 minutes from the airport. On the way out of the airport we were stopped by a police patrol. "If he asks, this is a free hotel shuttle service" Abed briefed us as we stopped. Turns out one of the senior politicians owns the taxi company, and he doesn't like anyone else getting paid to pick up people from the airport, so the police do his dirty work. Ah, that's so Congo...!!

    We stopped for a Turkish coffee from a roadside stall on the way, then straight to Madaba on a very quiet road. The roadside was dusty and barren, with piles of rubbish everywhere. Madaba is south of the capital Amman and is best known for the 6th century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Made of two million pieces of coloured local stone, it is believed to be the earlist map of the villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta.

    After checking into our hotel, we went for a walk to the town centre and located the Church of St George. We'd just finished taking photos of the mosaic when a lady appeared and asked for our ticket, which we were apparently meant to buy from the gift shop before entering. Clearly no need for that now ☺.

    We then visited the Archaeological Park and Museum, which has the remains of several 6th century Byzantine churches and homes, even more impressive than the church. The guide also took us to a mosaic workshop where they are keeping the art alive, before we grabbed a drink and some pizza for tea on the way back to our hotel for a swim.

    Early night, ready for our bike ride tomorrow.

    Stayed: Mariam Hotel, Madaba
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  • Day22

    Buffet breakfast at the hotel, followed by 8.30am pick-up for our trip north. We started at the village of Rasun where we met our guide for a walk through Ajloun Forest Reserve. In this park they revere their olive trees, and even have a museum in town to celebrate their 1000+ year old trees. The park also contains Roman era caves and pits used for grape pressing.

    We went to a local house for lunch, another feast of local dishes, including purslane (cooked like spinach).

    After lunch we visited Ajloun Castle, a 12th Century Muslim castle on top of the tallest hill in the region. It is a moated castle with 7 towers to allow the inhabitants to see invading forces.

    After leaving Ajloun we headed to Jerash, a city occupied since 2000BC, now most famous for it's Roman era ruins.

    We arrived back in Amman around 4.30pm, stopping on the way for a date syrup drink from a roadside vendor (3 cups for 1JD = $2).

    Around 7pm we went in search of dinner. We walked back towards the city centre to find the streets abuzz, with many shops still open and the street sellers starting to set up their stalls. We had a local burger each, chips and a drink (3JD = $6 in total). On the way back to the hotel we visited the bakery for dessert, and the supermarket for some drinks for tomorrow.

    Stayed: Toledo Hotel, Amman
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  • Day19

    After breakfast in the hotel restaurant, Abed picked us up at 8am and headed to Mt Nebo, only a few minutes from Madaba.

    Mt Nebo is, according to the Old Testament, where Moses saw the Promised Land before he died. On a clear day you can see Jericho and Jerusalem (that wasn't today), but we did see some more mosaics by early pilgrims which have been excavated and preserved.

    We met our cycling guide, Anas, in the nearby town at 9am and began our journey toward the Dead Sea. He was a member of the Jordanian Road Cycling team for 9 years so we were in good hands. The ride was 55km, and wasn't as easy as we'd been expecting, with many hilly sections and a bit of off-roading between the farms. Fortunately, we had a support vehicle follow us the whole way, so Oliver took advantage of getting a lift for a few kilometres of the steepest section.

    We arrived at Mukawir and went to a local family house for lunch. We had the traditional welcome coffee, followed by sweet black tea with fresh mint, then a delicious meal of chicken with rice and vegetables. Everthing we ate, except the rice, was grown by the family. This was regarded as a small family, with only 6 children - our host's brother has 24 children to 2 wives (Jordanian men can take up to 4 wives simultaneously, who each live in a separate house).

    After lunch we drove to the Dead Sea coast via the Mujib Nature Reserve, a green area on the map, but no green to be seen in real life. It was like a lunar landscape, barely a tree or bush in sight, but with spectacular mountain views and a steep, windy descent to the Dead Sea, 400m below sea level.

    All the "public" beaches are behind the hotels, so you have to pay to access them. Being so hot (it hit 43° later in the day), the hotel was fairly empty, save a few hardy souls swimming in the luke warm hotel pool. The beach was even more deserted, so we had our 10 minute float in the saline, oily waters, then caked a bit of (supposedly) therapeutic mud, before rinsing off in the warm outdoor shower and headed back to the air conditioned car quite hot and unrefreshed!

    We had a 3 hour drive to Petra for the night, but we extended that by an hour to take the scenic route via the Dana Biosphere.

    We arrived at Petra at 8pm, a quick shower to freshen up, and headed out for something to eat. It's a proper tourist town (the main street isn't called Tourism Street for nothing!), so everything is quite expensive, but we managed a shawarma (like yiros, but thinner bread and no salad), and a juice each for $40!
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  • Day21

    We left Petra at 10.30am for the drive to Amman on the Desert Highway. The name is quite descriptive, a couple of small towns where the speed humps force you to slow down to about 60kph, but apart from that, nothing but sand and trucks (and the occasional flock of sheep and goats being herded across the road).

    First stop in Amman was the Blue Mosque - it probably has a proper name, but it's massive blue dome is a focal point in the city. We both had to robe up for the the visit, which was self guided.

    We then made the short drive to the Citadel, an ancient site on top of the largest hill, affording 360° views of the city. Entrance fee was 3JD each ($6) and 25JD ($50) for the optional guided tour - our driver had already advised against taking the (very persistent) offer of a guide - there is ample signage to make sense of everything without a guide.

    Abed then dropped us downtown for a 2km walk back to the hotel via the city centre. Given the traffic it was probably quicker to walk, and it was a great way to experience the buzz and noise of the city on a "Friday" night (the weekend here is Fri and Sat).

    After a fresh juice and some shopping in the main street we stopped at Jerusalem Restaurant for tea, grabbed a quick cache on the way home, then had a pleasant walk back to the hotel, arriving at dusk.
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  • Day29

    Entirelly different - and really nice! When was the last time a stranger welcomed you to his country on the street?
    That happened to me twice, within 2 hours!

    Another interesting an great thing is the coffee: Brewed in a small pot in the middle of a bowl with hot sand - and very tasty!

  • Day3

    Day full of very contradictory emotions.
    We went by ourselves to famous Petra, Jordan today.
    All our good impressions were smashed by very bold locals, whose goal was to rob you in all possible ways.
    Morocco, India and all other similar countries have nothing to do with that!
    Jordan is far ahead of them!
    Not even mention the cosmic entrance fee - almost 120USD!
    Prices for the horse carriage and donkey were constantly increasing by the moment you finish the route.
    We spent there more than our whole trip to Israel!
    Endless "habibi" and "romashka" with all those sticky looks...
    And on top of it, real bastards at crossing border back to Israel, threatening us not to tel pass if we not pay extra to them (we were back 20 minutes before the border close and they use this situation demanding us either to pay or we have to spend a night on a Jordan side).
    Very, very disappointed and will never go back!
    We were so happy to get back to Israel that even were ready to kiss the Holy land!

    P.S. Petra itself is amazing 😍
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Jordanien, Jordan, Jordanië, Gyɔdan, ጆርዳን, Chordania, Hascemisc Cynerīce þæs Iordanes, الأردن, ܘܪܕܢ, Ürdün, Іарданія, Йордания, Zɔrdani, জর্ডান, ཇོར་ཌན།, Jordania, Jordània, Jordánsko, Gwlad Iorddonen, Yordan nutome, Ιορδανία, Jordanio, جردن, Jordani, Jordanie, Jordaanje, An Iordáin, Xordania, જોર્ડન, ירדן, जॉर्डन, Jordaniska, Jordánia, Հորդանան, Yordania, Jórdanía, Giordania, ヨルダン・ハシミテ王国, იორდანია, Njorondani, ហ៊្សកដានី, ಜೋರ್ಡಾನ್, 요르단, ئوردن, Iordania, Yorodani, Zɔdani, ຈໍແດນ, Jordanija, Jodani, Jordānija, Јордан, ജോര്‍ദ്ദാന്‍, Ġordan, ဂျော်ဒန်, Djordan, जोर्डन, ଜୋର୍ଡାନ୍, Иордани, Hordanya, اردن, Jordânia, Yorudaniya, Иордания, Giurdania, Zordanïi, ජෝර්දානය, Urdun, Yordani, ஜொர்டான், జార్డాన్, ประเทศจอร์แดน, Hordan, Soatane, Йорданія, Iordaniya, Gioóc-đa-ni (Jordan), Yordän, יארדאניע, Orílẹ́ède Jọdani, 约旦, i-Jordan

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