Hello everyone! Hope you had a fabulous Easter weekend. I did but didn’t get a chance to recap it yesterday because I got home late Sunday night and didn’t have the time. Today I’m bringing back my husband, Tom, again to finish recapping his previous mystery trip. Last he left off he was leaving from Istanbul, Turkey.
Our next mystery destination was Jordan. Which given it’s location between Syria, Iraq and Israel; caused a few concerned phone calls at the airport from loved ones back home. However, even though the Arab nation of Jordan is in the geographic middle of the conflict in the Middle East; it is a beautiful country filled with friendly and generous people. Never once did we feel concerned for our safety and were often amazed by Jordanian’s friendliness.
Since there is so much to see and do in Jordan, Alex rented us a car and we did a cross-country road trip.
One of our first stops was to see the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Jerash. Built nearly 2,000 years ago, many of these Roman ruins were destroyed or buried by earthquakes and multiple wars until it was partially restored to what it is today. Being able to walk through and experience all the different aspects of what life was like for the ancient Romans was mesmerizing. The best part was the total lack of other tourists. This was a theme we continued to experience throughout most of Jordan given it not being a well known tourist hot-spot. It felt like we had the entire place to ourselves which allowed us to crawl on ancient ruins, re-enact plays in amphitheaters, play hide and seek in long abandoned castles and discover dark catacombs. An entirely different experience you would expect compared to a place like Rome.
Jordan is uniquely situated in the center of many great historical and religious events. One such place we visited was the summit of Mount Nebo, which according to the Hebrew Bible, was the site where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. It is also believed to be the burial site of Moses. Another momentous stop nearby was the actual location of the baptism of Jesus Christ – close to the Israel border and the Jordan river. While we were visiting here, the only other tourists we met were a very nice and well educated, large Christian family from Iraq. They were forced to flee their home in Iraq because of Islamic extremists and were now refugees searching for a new home where they wouldn’t be persecuted for their beliefs. Despite their struggles, they remained very optimistic and grateful. This was the first time we felt the realism of the impact of the Iraqi civil war. It certainly made us feel gracious to be living in a country as great as Canada.
Petra, known as the “Rose City” was the capital of a powerful group of people known as the Nabatean over 2,000 years ago. Following the civilization’s demise, the city became lost to the Western world for centuries until it was re-discovered in 1812. The Nabatean carved their city into the surrounding pink sandstone cliffs including homes, tombs, temples, monuments, aquifers, grain stores and amphitheaters. Their expert navigation and survival skills in the middle of the vast dessert allowed the Nabatean people to control the trade routes from oasis to oasis in Arabia – which led to their success and wealth.
When entering the city through the narrow sandstone gulley, the first thing you will come upon is the great Al-Khazna, known as “The Treasury.” This spectacular monument, like much of the city, was impressively carved from a single block of sandstone by the Nabatean tribe in 60BC – 50 AD. Although not actually a treasury, it is a mausoleum which was used for funerary purposes.
After our visit to Petra, we spent a few nights at a traditional Bedouin tribe camp in the middle of the Wadi Rum desert. We experienced the clear night sky lit up by the Milky Way, 4x4ing and sand boarding down sand dunes, camel riding and of course a hike up to the infamous rock bridge on Jebel Burdah. For those brave enough, you can walk across the top of this rock bridge nearly 300m above the desert floor.
Another must-see stop was to visit the inland Dead Sea. Given it’s elevation at more than 400m below sea level, water can`t flow out of this sea causing it to become more and more saline – 9.6 times more salty than the ocean. This makes for some fun photo ops since it is very easy to float in the dense water.
Overall, Jordan was an amazing place to visit that I would highly recommend to anyone seeking to get out of their comfort zone and see some truly unique sites. Ever since first seeing it featured on the OLN TV series Departures, Jen and I have wanted to visit. I think she was a bit jealous I got to experience it without her, so something tells me we will make a trip back there someday.