When: December 2019 Flying from Newcastle Sunday 22nd with KLM to Amsterdam and later same day with Transavia (partner KLM on cheaper price side) to Amman (capital of Jordan).
Return journey started late afternoon of January 2nd and with 8 hours in Schiphol, I was back in Newcastle airport about 8.30 am approx.
Why: My work in this period client was on holiday shutdown for 2 weeks over Christmas and I wanted to see and do something different at this relatively over-social-rather repetitive family focused time of year. And with Syria off limits only Egypt on my list.
With whom: my 3rd trip with Intrepid. (7 nights and 6 full days) It was well organised and although a full-time guide, the accommodation was in the budget area making it affordable
Outline: I had a bit less than 24 hours in Amman till start of official tour at 6pm which then included 1 night Amman, early start for drive in bus with 11 other travellers (4 Oz, 4 USA, 3UK) plus guide to Wadi Rum where we spent Christmas eve, day and night in a Bedouin camp, then onwards for 2 nights in Petra.
Then up country via a Crusader Castle, Dead Sea, Mount Nebo where Moses is said to have seen the promised land but was not allowed to go further himself and then onwards to Madaba for 2 nights.
This was a base for drive up to see Ancient city of Jerash the biggest Roman City ruins outside Rome. Churches in Madaba and at Nebo provided 1500-year-old mosaic floors. The official trip ended after the 2nd night in Madaba and I went back to Amman to witness a non-eventful New Year
Petra: It is stunning and larger than most photos give it justice. The site is much more expansive than the Treasury itself and fascinating in the amount of work the Nabateans put in and the Romans adapted and adopted.
We arrived at lunchtime and our guide gave us a good tour of key points leaving the 2nd full there for us to explore.
I was one of very very few at the entrance turnstiles at 6am and the walk down to the Siq was good, the Siq itself totally magical without the posse hordes of tourists. As the twisty gorge weaved its natural split and then the treasury slowly appeared in the gap. So wonderful to have that view to myself in silence of mother nature and the spirits of the ancient geniuses who made this place so special.
Wadi Rum not just for its weird shaped desert rocks, nor for its sunrises and sunsets, not for its underground cooking nor for the cosy “tents” but for the whole experience of desert harshness over the nearly 2 days we spent there.
Jerash: Roman city survived a lot and still looks good enough to convey its majestic sweeping layout.
National gallery Amman and well worth a visit at the start of the trip. It includes the Jordanian remnants of the dead sea scrolls
Lesser than “High” points in my humble view but still very enjoyable part of an excellent holiday
The sound of carol singing in an old Christian church in Madaba on the last night there which was a Sunday.
Citadel in Amman for its impressiveness and the hand perhaps of Hercules as alone on the ground and pictured. The hand looks so sensitive despite its size and age.
Blue Mosque Amman for its size and silence at 8am as I wandered through with only 1 prayerful person busy reciting and me with my hair (arms and legs too) covered to prevent temptation occurring.
Rainbow street Amman for its cosmopolitan flavour.
Street Art in Amman- several photos taken.
Roman Theatre seating c 6000 in Amman and still in use
Feeling of been safe when walking alone in the capital Amman and also Madaba
Getting lost at Petra when on the way to Sacrifice hill and i wandered along this empty hilltop at 7am (people were getting lost all day- i was just rather alone), found some Jordanians in a hut who provided breakfast of tea, bread and cheese and kindly redirected me back to Sacrifice Hill. When I saw one of 2 women using a jagged broken mirror to check her face that morning I thought of money but offered a compact makeup mirror from Holy island.
Food and Beverages
Well, we have most of their dishes be it Shawarma, Shish Kebab or Hummus to name the main ones, but I felt the flavours to be better than here in UK.
Freshly squeezed pomegranate was wonderful and refreshing but my preferred drink was the fresh squeezed lemon then with fresh mint added, liquidised and sugar to one’s own taste
I tried a couple Jordanian wines and they were comparable with average “New World wines” although off license prices about double/ nearly triple UK prices (£17 for my Christmas day choice).
Alcohol available in posher places.
It was winter, cold frequently windy and layers work best but suggest the outer layer good at keeping the wind out. No rain experienced although it can happen as can snow.
What would I do different after my experience
Include a trip to Israel as with flight cost to this part of the world I could have created a 2 week holiday. Border crossing possible from Madaba in Jordan.
Amman can be seen in a day with a taxi to citadel, walk down to roman theatre and then though souks to National Museum. Perhaps another taxi to Blue Mosque and then a meal in rainbow street.