Bike ride and Dead SeaJuly 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!Read more