Falling in Love with JordanPublished on June 06, 2018
About a week before Joseph’s birthday, we decided to go on a short trip to Jordan since we’ve wanted to visit Petra for a few years. After a quick search on SuperCoucou, I found the perfect trip, 5 Days in Jordan. What was left was finding the right flight – an hour and a half from Cairo! After the flight was booked, I booked the package; once I got a confirmation for my booking, I did some research on things to do on his birthday, which was the day we arrived in Amman. I threw that research out the window and contacted my college buddy Sherif that’s been living there for a while. That’s when I found out that he was going to Sri Lanka the night we arrive. Talk about a bad coincidence…
Packing light was quite the challenge since some days were as high as 29°C (84°f) and the night we spent in Petra was as low as 8°C (46.5°f). Somehow I managed to pack for these temperatures in just a tiny carry-on bag, including toiletries, my accessories, makeup, and hair products – I’m quite proud of myself!
On his birthday, Wednesday, March 28th, we woke up at 5 am to catch our 8 am flight. A sandstorm started that day in Egypt, so that was one of the scariest flights I’ve ever been on. I kept clutching Joe’s hand – who was so calm that he was actually napping, mind you – and he kept laughing at me the entire time. When we finally arrived at Amman, we were met by someone at the airport to handle our visas and introduced us to the driver that would drop us off at our hotel. The hotel was good for a 3* hotel, the room was spacious and the food was delicious. After we checked in and freshened up, we decided to go for a walk around the hotel hunting for a cup of coffee or a small bite to eat; there wasn’t anything within walking distance, so we got in a cab and told him to take us to the restaurant the driver had suggested, on the way, we saw a coffee shop and decided to stop there instead to get a cup of coffee and access to Wi-Fi so I can contact my friend and get updates. The place he had recommended the most, Copas, opens at 4 pm, with Happy & Hungry Hour from 4-9 pm. Since it was 2:30, we decided to wait at the coffee shop till 3 and head to the area and walk around till they open. Luckily, Copas was right next to a famous street, Al-Rainbow, that’s full of stores to waste time in. We then headed to Copas for some delicious tapas and drinks. While we were there, we met a Tunisian woman and her mother, started talking and ended up joining tables till we left later that night. At some point, Sherif and Matthew joined us, which was amazing considering that it was a few hours till their flight to Sri Lanka! It was a great way to spend Joe’s birthday, as he loves meeting new people! Around 10 pm we decided to call it a night, as it was already an exhausting day and we had an early morning the next day.
The lovely staff at Copas gave us cake when they found out it's his birthday
Sherif and I excited to see each other after about 2 years
On Thursday we woke up early for our tour of Amman and Jerash. That’s when we met our awesome driver guide that was with us for the rest of the trip, Mohammed. He dropped us off at the Citadel in Amman, bought our entrance tickets and got us a guide. Our guide at the Citadel was hilarious! He’s an 81-year-old Jordanian veteran that could barely hear us and used Joe’s arm as his personal cane as we walked around; he had a great sense of humor and was really enthusiastic about Jordanian history. He was actually the most informative guide in our entire trip and wanted to make sure we understood everything he said. Our tour with him ended at the Citadel’s museum, where we went in to see relics from different eras and civilizations that occupied Jordan at one point in history. After the museum, we walked around a bit and took more pictures of the place before heading to Jerash. On the way, we stopped by the Roman Amphitheater for a quick look – if you’ve seen one amphitheater, you’ve kinda seen them all, so we weren’t that interested in actually going in and spending much time there.
Joe and I infront of the flag and citadel
Joe with our tour guide
The remains of the statue of Hercules (fingers and elbow)
A view of Amman
The Citadel's museum
The Roman Amphitheater
The hour drive from Amman to Jerash passed by so quickly, as we were joking around with Mohammed and getting to know him better. He has a great sense of humor and is very knowledgeable. He knew I was hungry so he stopped by the side of the road and got me the most delicious and juicy strawberries I’ve ever had, as well as raw hummus and almonds, both of which were completely new to us. When we arrived at Jerash, we had lunch before entering the massive ancient city. After we met our guide for Jerash, we walked in and began our amazement. Greeks, Romans and Arabs lived in this city at some point, and you can see the differences and changes between each civilization. As soon as we walked in, our guide showed us a wall that was built by all 3 civilizations, the lower part was built by the Greeks, then the Romans added to it and finally the Arabs finished it. What stood out the most to me was the Greco-Roman Nymphaeum, a huge water fountain with water cascading from lion heads carved from marble. It’s a good thing we skipped the Roman Amphitheater in Amman, because there were two different theaters in Jerash. At sunset, we left Jerash and headed back to the hotel, exhausted yet thrilled from the historically rich day we just experienced.
The entrance to Jerash
The wall where you can see each civilization's era
An ancient church that was covered in mosaics
Trying to capture as much of the ancient city as I can before we left
Friday was the most activity-filled day. We woke up at 6 am to pack up, have breakfast and checkout from the hotel by 8. Heading towards Petra, our first stop of the day was the beautiful Mount Nebo, where Moses is said to be buried. The view there was breathtaking, overlooking the Jordan Valley. We visited the church located on the mountain, which was almost completely covered in mosaics if I remember correctly. There are quite a few mosaic pieces remaining in the newly-renovated church and the church museum. Before leaving the Mount Nebo area, Mohammed took us to a mosaic shop, where they hand make everything from wall hanging art to furniture.
The church's altar
Mosaics in the church
The view from the mountain
Afterwards, we stopped at a cute little church in Madaba (also has a lot of mosaics) before we headed to Kerak, an ancient town situated on a hill and can only be accessed by medieval-looking bridges. The place is massive, with what used to be the town center, market and a huge castle with endless rooms that make you feel like you’re in a maze. We had fun getting ourselves lost around the place and finding new rooms, storage spaces and what used to be prison cells. Finally, we left Kerak and headed towards our final destination, stopping at an adorable hill-top rest house, whose owner told us stories of his different trips to Egypt and the adventures he had there as we had some tea and Turkish delights. We finally got to our hotel in Petra at night, where we checked in and rushed to sleep after a long day.
The mosaic church in Madaba
Stopping on the way to Kerak to appreciate the view - with Mohammed
Saturday was the prize-winner! We woke up, had breakfast, checked out and went straight to Petra. What an amaaaaazing city! I really can’t get over how beautiful and simply magnificent this ancient city is. The Nabataean really did outdid themselves with this one! First, to get to the city, we took a quick and short horse ride – which I now deeply regret, because I saw how the animals there are terribly mistreated; I would never do that again when I go there. Anyway, we continued walking through the walkway that was carved through the mountains. You could easily get lost looking at the gorgeous natural shades and colors of the pink mountain stone. When we reached the famous treasury, we thought that was the end of the activity, so we took a lot of pictures and started hanging around a bit, then our tour guide told us “let’s continue”. To our surprise, the Treasury is basically the entrance to the massive ancient city, where homes and tombs were carved into the mountains, and there are quite a few monuments for you to see. The ones we explored the most are The Great Temple of Petra and the Royal Tombs. They were just amazing, we felt like we had gone back centuries in time. We took a nice quiet break at the temple after climbing to the very top. We then had the option to continue into the city more and see more monuments, but we had taken our time just walking in and seeing everything at the beginning, and we still wanted enough time to explore the Royal Tombs, so we headed back towards the tombs and spent time at each and every tomb which is carved in the mountain, so each room had different colors and natural patterns. The entire experience was just breathtaking. Then we had an exhausting walk back to the car to head back to our hotel Amman, stopping for a well-deserved lunch on the way.
Selfie with the "soldier" at the entrance to Petra
Walking in the Siq (carving through the mountain towards Petra)
An ancient Nabataean chapel
Finally made it to the Treasury!
At the Great Temple of Petra
Qasr al-Bint Temple Complex
In front of the tombs
Found a cozy little spot to rest
In the rooms, those are the walls!
When we were booking the trip, we never imagined we’d enjoy it so much. We basically just wanted to see the Treasury (what we thought was the entirety of Petra at the time), but we were pleasantly surprised to see that there’s a lot more history to Jordan than we had known and that Jordanians are just so kind and welcoming, especially with Egyptians! Whenever someone would know we’re Egyptians, they would light up and say “You’re from Egypt! The best country in the world!” and they’d usually buy us a drink or give us a souvenir as a gift. We definitely want to go again, to see the rest of Petra, and visit Wady Al Rum and the Dead Sea. Hopefully, we’ll be taking another trip there soon.