Jordan
Balqa

Here you’ll find travel reports about Balqa. Discover travel destinations in Jordan of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

15 travelers at this place:

  • Day19

    Bike ride and Dead Sea

    July 18, 2017 in Jordan

    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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  • Day13

    Israel

    October 19, 2017 in Palestine

    We left our hotel in Jordan at 8.30am for the 1 hour journey to the Jordanian border, crossing through the beautiful Jordan Valley. The valley is lush & green & sits at least 400m below sea level, once here, all the bags came off the bus & were x-rayed etc...(& Pauly's binoculars were freed from their restraints with minimal fuss & lots of cigarette smoke). Next we were back on the bus travelling for approximately 10 minutes through 'no man's land' (our view was sniper towers, trenches, barbed wire & desolation) to the Israeli border crossing. Here, the bags came off the bus again & were x-rayed whilst we obtained our visas, passed through security checks & moved to our buses (all new buses & drivers as our Jordanian guides did not cross into Israel). Interestingly, the binoculars were of no interest to the Israelis, however my 5 kg of authentic turkish delight was a different story 😁; but once they had performed all of their necessary security checks I got my loot & was free to go. The Israeli guards were very thorough but made us feel very welcome - a dramatic difference to what we had experienced entering other countries. We were now officially in Israel & on our way to Tel Aviv!
    The first city we spotted was the oldest in the world - Jericho! Unfortunately we did not have time to stop but we will definitely come back on another visit!
    Lunch was held in Tel Aviv at the Rishon Le-Zion Museum where we learnt about the history of the Jewish nation & the Israeli flag, amonst other things.
    This afternoon we were treated to a wonderful concert at Jaffa Railway Station, on the Tel Aviv foreshore, by our concert band (The Perth Hills & Wheatbelt Band). They flew in from Perth this morning along with all other ('Option B') tour members - there are now 180 of us in total!
    After another long day, we enjoyed a scrumptious buffet dinner at our wonderful accommodation - Dan Panorama Hotel, before a quick "hello" & welcome from the Australian Ambassador to Israel.
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  • Day8

    Mer morte

    December 31, 2016 in Jordan

    C'est déjà notre dernier jour en Jordanie, et, après notre nuit dans le désert tout au sud , nous avons une grosse journée de route devant nous. Un stop important au programme tout de même : un bain dans la mer morte!!

    L'eau est plutôt bonne, à la même température qur l'air (23°C) et bien évidemment elle est salée : on peut voir les cristaux de sel sur la plage et à l'intérieur de l'eau on peut presque être assis sans le moindre effortRead more

  • Day11

    Apr 12 - Petra

    April 12 in Jordan

    First of two posts for today......

    Today started with a 5:00 a.m. wakeup call that had been issued for all 14 members of our group, but that we had cancelled. We don't need a lot of time to get ready in the morning. We have an alarm clock and a cell phone that we set as a back up. (In Amman, we were supposed to get a wakeup call and didn’t.) We dozed until 5:45 a.m. and then hopped to it. We had breakfast and were on the bus (with our luggage since it was only a one-night stand in Petra) by 7:15 a.m. It was quite cool (about 10 deg. C) so we all had a couple of layers on for warmth.

    We stopped just 5 minutes down the road to drink in the view of the mountains. I don’t think there is anything like this in Canada.

    Our destination was Petra – one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Jordan. It is also one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. See info below about Wonders of the World. It is located in the heart of the Shara Mountains. It is not known precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire from the 1st century BC that grew rich through trade in frankincense, myrrh and spices. Petra was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake in 363 AD destroyed much of the city. The earthquake, combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city and it was ultimately abandoned. By the middle of the 7th century, Petra appears to have been largely deserted and it was then lost to all except local Bedouin from the area.

    Classic Seven Wonders of the World:

    Colossus of Rhodes.
    Great Pyramid of Giza.
    Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
    Lighthouse of Alexandria.
    Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
    Statue of Zeus at Olympia.
    Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

    Seven New Wonders of the World:

    Great Wall of China
    Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro
    Machu Picchu in Peru
    Roman Colosseum
    Taj Mahal in India
    Petra in Jordan

    In 1812, a Swiss explorer by the name of Johannes Burckhardt set out to rediscover Petra. He dressed up as an Arab and convinced his Bedouin guide to take him to the lost city. After this, Petra became increasingly known in the West as a fascinating and beautiful ancient city. It now attracts millions of visitors every year.

    Petra is known as the rose-red city, a name it gets from the wonderful colour of the rock from which many of the city’s structures were carved. The Nabataeans buried their dead in intricate tombs that were cut out of the mountain sides and the city also had temples, a theatre, and following the Roman annexation and the later Byzantine influence, a colonnaded street and churches.

    The people of Petra were masters of hydrological engineering. They were very skilled in using dams and tunnels and clay piping to control the water from flash floods and to store water in underground cisterns. There is a tunnel 88 metres in length that they cut by hand through rock for control purposes.

    Visitors enter Petra via a narrow gorge called the Siq. It resulted from a natural splitting of the mountain and is 1.2 km long. The showpiece of Petra is the Treasury. It’s a magnificent façade. It is almost 40 metres high and has intricately carved Corinthian capitals, friezes and figures. On top of it is a funeral urn that supposedly conceals a pharaoh’s treasure.

    There is a theatre carved into the side of the mountain. It could have accommodated 4000 spectators. This is the only theatre in the world carved into rock.

    Petra is a huge site. Two ladies had been there before and had only been able to see about half of it. Eleven of the group opted to stay with Ruby and listen to her commentary. Five of us decided to go ahead of the main group and make a stab at getting to the farthest point – the Ad-Deir Monastery. We had to hot foot it to be able to get there and back by the time the bus had to leave to get all the way to our next hotel stop. Doug and Frances’ husband Ron buddied up while their wives set off to see the monastery.

    The monastery, Ad-Deir, is one of the largest monuments in Petra. It was used as a meeting place for religious associations. The Monastery dates to the early 2nd century AD. It was later re-used as a Christian chapl and crosses were carved into the rear wall, which is how the structure got its name.

    After the Treasury, which is where the rest of the group stopped and turned around, the path began to climb. There were lots of stairs with varying heights (some of them tough for our short legs). Sometimes, there were just worn rocks that we had to climb on. It was hot, tough sledding, but after a little less than two hours from when we began at the entrance, we reached the Monastery. Seeing it was a spectacular reward for our efforts. We took photos, had some water, declined to pay $1 USD to use the washrooms, and headed back down. We were back at the bus on time, hot, tired, sweaty and feeling very triumphant!

    All around Petra, there are vendors hawking trinkets, jewellery, drinks, carpets, shawls and all kinds of other bits and pieces – yes, even at the top of the mountain at the Monastery. There are men offering donkey rides, horse-drawn carriage rides and even camel rides. The rampant commercialism takes away some of the mystique and wonder of Petra and it’s causing a lot of mess and litter, but in looking past it, visitors certainly get to enjoy a truly unique sight.

    We made a quick stop at Wadi Mousa, a town located in the Ma'an Governorate in southern Jordan. It is the administrative center of the Petra Department and the nearest town to the archaeological site of Petra. Wadi Musa means "Valley of Moses" in Arabic. It is said that the prophet Moses passed through the valley and struck water from the rock for his followers at the site of Ain Musa ("Moses's water spring" or "Moses's Well"). The Nabateans built channels that carried water from this spring to the city of Petra. Wadi Musa was also nicknamed the "Guardian of Petra". The Tomb of Aaron, supposed burial site of the Biblical Aaron, the brother of Moses, is on nearby Mount Hor.

    Moses' spring delivers a continual supply of cool, fresh water. I filled my water bottle, hoping that the water would have good restorative powers for my tired, aching feet.

    We stopped for lunch just a little ways from Petra. The view over the valley made for a lovely setting. Soup, salad bar and nice sweets for just $10 USD per person. They use a lot of nice, fresh and tasty tomatoes, cucumbers, and red/green/yellow peppers in their salads and there is usually always a nice coleslaw. Doug and I have discovered the Jordanian version of chocolate pudding. It’s really good.

    Ruby bought locally-grown bananas for us. They are smaller than the ones we know and are slightly sweeter.

    Today, being Thursday, is the beginning of the weekend here. The traffic flowing out of Amman was wicked. According to Ruby, many people head to the city of Aqaba which is Jordan’s only beach/port city. Traffic going into the city was wicked also due to a bus breakdown in a construction zone. We watched with amusement as cars drove through a deep ditch and across the adjacent road being constructed to get to another route. Some drivers just kept driving on the road under construction. They couldn’t get very far as there were three pieces of heavy equipment just ahead parked across the road. An effective way of stopping foolish behaviour.

    To help pass the time on our long drive back from Petra to the Dead Sea, Ruby described how engagements take place here in Jordan. The process relies heavily on Bedouin customs and involves the man's and the lady’s families getting together and discussing the possible union over Arabic coffee (a very thick, very bitter drink). Just a short while later, we passed a wedding party. Such a lovely coincidence.

    We stopped at the Black Iris shop (nice washrooms!) that sells lovely Jordanian products and Dead Sea skin products. We all got to sample the skin scrub and to put on shea butter. They are lovely products but pricey. I’m sticking with Aveeno. The actual reason for the stop was to pick up Lynne’s suitcase. Her flight from Columbus, Ohio to Toronto got cancelled on Monday due to bad weather. She made it to Toronto on a later flight barely in time to make the flight to Cairo with the rest of the group, but alas, her luggage didn’t make it. With clothes lent by her fellow travellers, she made it through until today. Egypt Air and NET and Ruby had been working feverishly to get Lyne and her suitcase reunited without requiring her to go to the airport (far out of our way) to retrieve it. They finally found a convenient rendezvous point. Lynne is one now very, very happy traveller!!

    On our way from Petra to the Dead Sea, we dropped below sea level. We finally got to our hotel (a Ramada hotel) beside the Dead Sea about 6:00 p.m. The bus apparently had lost reverse at our stop before the Black Iris, so the bus had to stop by the gate where Haroon could just make a big U-turn. We all just pitched in had pulled our luggage in ourselves. Doug and I showered and headed down for dinner. What a lovely dinner buffet! Score – more of that good chocolate pudding we had at lunch. We checked out the pool area – two pools and a swim-up bar.

    Tomorrow being Friday (the equivalent of Saturday for us) is the running of the Dead Sea Marathon – it runs from Amman to the Dead Sea. Ruby has gone back to Amman to see her family for the evening. She and her husband have four children (ages 20, 16, 14 and 7). The roads won’t open until noon so we will have the morning to ourselves and hope to be on our way to see more sights by 1:00 p.m. This hotel has its own private beach on the Dead Sea so we will check it out during our free morning tomorrow. I experienced the Dead Sea on last year’s trip to the Holy Land. It will be interesting to see how Doug enjoys the sensation of floating in the water that has a 30% salt content.
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  • Day12

    Apr 13 - The Dead Sea

    April 13 in Jordan

    How nice to not have an early departure today! We got up at our leisure and had breakfast. The hotel has a very nice breakfast buffet - both hot and cold items, including waffles that Doug tried. Everything is labelled in English. Doug and Frances and I decided to head down to the hotel's private beach on the Dead Sea. There is a little shuttle bus that runs twice per hour, but we could see that it would't be far, so we walked. It was a beautiful, warm morning - the high for today is forecast to be 30 deg. C. but that won't be until late this afternoon. The walk took less than 10 minutes.

    Here's some Wikipedia info about the Dead Sea:

    The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west. Its surface and shores are 430.5 metres (1,412 ft) below sea level, Earth's lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea is 304 m (997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With a salinity of 342 g/kg, or 34.2%, (in 2011), it is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean and one of the world's saltiest bodies of water. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea is 50 kilometres (31 mi) long and 15 kilometres (9 mi) wide at its widest point. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.

    The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. It was one of the world's first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from asphalt for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilisers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets.

    The Dead Seawater has a density of 1.24 kg/litre, which makes swimming similar to floating.

    The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing many problems. The Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to neighbouring countries, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and be completed in 2021.

    We had the beach to ourselves since it was just 8:30 a.m. There is a sign that says it's the lowest point on earth, but it's not quite right. At 398 metres below sea level, it's short by about 32 metres. The actual lowest point is on the Israeli side at the En Gedi Spa (had my picture taken there last year beside the official sign). The beach here is very tough to walk on - the sand is very coarse and with small, sharp rocks. The area under the water is very, very rocky and the walking is very tough. I made it past the rocks to the sandy bottom area. Doug stayed back and was the official photographer. The water is hypersalinated so you float very easily. The tough part is getting your feet back down - you have to pull your legs and feet up to your chest and then push them down. Swimming on your front is almost impossible because you keep turtling over onto your back. I paddled around for bit and Frances waded in to waist level. We both agreed that the beach that we went to on the Israeli side was much more enjoyable. It had a sandy shore and the ground under the water was the famous Black Sea mud which was soft on the feet - we smeared over ourselves to renew our skin. Although it was very busy and quite noisy, it was all-round, a more pleasant experience.

    We passed several others from our group on their way down to the beach on our way back. Apparently they were treated to a visit by a herd of camels. Too funny.

    I needed a long, hot shower after that - the water in the Dead Sea has an oily quality to it. I had time to do this writeup and then do some reading before our departure at 1:00 p.m. Ruby made it to the hotel in good time.
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  • Day12

    Second post for today.....

    It's was a very warm afternoon - the high is expected to be in the mid-30's. Our first stop this afternoon was Bethany by the Jordan (Al-Maghtas).

    We saw many families pulled over on the side of the road having picnics and enjoying the warm weather.

    Bethany by the Jordan is the site of the Baptism of Jesus. (This is not the town of Bethany that is just east of Jerusalem.) The baptism of Jesus is described in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. John's gospel does not directly describe Jesus' baptism. Bethany by the Jordan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (UNESCO = United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

    The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, the others being the Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. In Roman Catholicism, the baptism of Jesus is one of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

    From the site www.baptismsite.com:

    Jesus left Nazareth, until he reached Bethany beyond the Jordan and went to John for baptism. Jesus joined in the line of penitents asking for baptism, yet he was pure, free from all sin. He was the one who would say to the Jews, “Who among you can provide evidence that I have committed a sin.” John knew of Jesus from the revelation and inspiration of the Holy Spirit (John 1:32). John, however, objected to baptizing Jesus saying, “I am the one that needs you to baptize me!” But upon Jesus’ continued insistence, John acquiesced and baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Therefore, the water of the Jordan River became holy and all the waters that flow along the baptism site were purified, reviving the souls of people at every place and time.

    As Jesus was coming out of the water, he saw the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove. He heard a voice from above say, “You are my beloved son with whom I am well-pleased.” The baptism of Jesus is generally considered as the start of his ministry, shortly after the start of the ministry of John the Baptist.

    Bethany by the Jordan features Roman and Byzantine remains including churches and chapels, a monastery, caves that have been used by hermits and pools in which baptisms were celebrated, testifying to the religious character of the place. The site is a Christian place of pilgrimage.

    From the actual baptism site, we walked a short distance down to where the Jordan River now runs. Its course has been altered by erosion, earthquakes and mankind's interference. Marilyn and I were thrilled to see that we were directly opposite the site where we had renewed our baptismal vows with our Holy Land pilgrimage group last March. Israel is on the other side of the river, just a stone's throw away. There were groups there renewing their vows. There was a young father who was exhorting his two young sons to dunk in the water and to shout praises to God. Ruby says it's like home schooling, but it's home churching. We were able to stand in the water and reflect on the incredible blessing that had been bestowed on us to be able to visit such a holy place.
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  • Day12

    Apr 13 - Mount Nebo

    April 13 in Jordan

    Third post for today.....

    Today is Friday which is like Saturday for us back home. All along the side of the road, there were trucks parked selling vegetables. It was like a really long, narrow farmers' market. They had carrots, radishes, cauliflower, beets, turnips, tomatoes and fennel. Fennel looks somewhat like an onion but has a sweeter taste with almost a liquorice flavour. Ruby got some for us and passed them around. (Tried fennel at dinner tonight - it's good.) The vendors grow these vegetables in the fertile ground of the Jordan Valley. Note - there was cold pink turnip on the buffet last night. It's dyed using beet juice. It looks like candy. I didn't try it.

    From Bethany by the Jordan, we drove about an hour up to Mount Nebo. We wound our way up to the top of the mountain through incredibly rugged and forbidding mountains. We needed many switchbacks to wend our way upwards.

    From www.baptismsite.com:

    Upon Mount Nebo, God revealed Himself to Moses, as He had previously revealed Himself at Sinai, and Moses stood and looked over the Promised Land stretched out in front of him. He saw the Jordan River before him, descending from the heights of Mount Hermon into the depths of the Jordan valley.

    From Wikipedia:

    Mount Nebo is an elevated ridge in Jordan, approximately 710 metres (2,330 ft) above sea level, mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. The view from the summit provides a panorama of the Holy Land and, to the north, a more limited one of the valley of the River Jordan. The West Bank city of Jericho is usually visible from the summit, as is Jerusalem on a very clear day.

    According to the final chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses ascended Mount Nebo to view the Land of Canaan, which God had said he would not enter, and to die there; he was buried in an unknown valley location in Moab.

    A serpentine cross sculpture (the Brazen Serpent Monument) atop Mount Nebo was created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni. It is symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4–9) and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified (John 3:14).

    On the highest point of the mountain, Syagha, the remains of a Byzantine church and monastery were discovered in 1933. The church was first constructed in the second half of the 4th century to commemorate the place of Moses' death. The church is first mentioned in an account of a pilgrimage made by a lady Aetheria in A.D. 394. Six tombs have been found hollowed from the natural rock beneath the mosaic-covered floor of the church. In the modern chapel presbytery, built to protect the site and provide worship space, remnants of mosaic floors from different periods can be seen. The earliest of these is a panel with a braided cross presently placed on the east end of the south wall.

    On the way home, we saw shepherds with goats and sheep and the occasional camel along the road. There are stray dogs and cats all over Jordan - saw lots of them, especially the dogs that saunter lazily across the road willy nilly.

    We made one last stop - at Pearl Nebo. This place specializes in mosaics and employs many people with disabilities. We watched how mosaics are made - it is a very intricate and demanding skill. Doug and I bought two lovely mosaic hot plates to use when we eat soup and crackers for supper on Saturday nights in the living room while we watch This Old House!

    The hotel is full of families tonight. They come out from Amman (just an hour away) just for Friday night and Saturday. They swim in the two pools and enjoy the lovely buffets.

    Lots on the agenda tomorrow. It will be our last day with Ruby since we fly to Cairo on Sunday.
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  • Day6

    Totes Meer

    May 2, 2013 in Jordan

    Schon am Nachmittag erreichen wir unser Hotel am Toten Meer. Nach einer Umrundung der Hotelanlage bekommen wir auch tatsächlich noch ein Stückchen Kuchen... :-)

    Gemütlich lassen wir den Abend im Crowne Plaza ausklingen...

    Ein fauler Tag am Toten Meer... :-)
    Nach den anstrengenden Tagen in Jerusalem haben wir uns heute einen Tag zum Ausspannen verdient. Dazu gehört natürlich auch das obligatorische Bad im Toten Meer inclusive Schlammpackung...

    Und der Blick auf die Sonne, die glutrot hinter den Bergen von Judäa untergeht, muss heute natürlich auch sein... :-)
    Wer fotografiert nur immer diese kitschigen Sonnenuntergänge?
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Muḩāfaz̧at al Balqā’, Muhafazat al Balqa', Balqa, محافظة البلقاء

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