Thursday, June 30, 2011

jordan wrap up:

For a small country, Jordan certainly packs a punch. With sights such as Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea plus numerous Roman ruins such as Jerash (which we didn't get the chance to visit), there is a lot to see and do.
A good thing about Jordan is it's size. You can see so much in a small amount of time as it is very easy and quick to get from place to place. We spent six days all up in Jordan and saw most of the major attractions. Also, Jordanian hospitality is legendary, and we definitely experienced much warmth from all of the locals. We always felt safe.
Jordan is also a great country to visit if you are thinking of going to Egypt or Israel. It is all very close, with the border crossings are straight forward. So we definitely recommend doing a combination trip if you are in the area. The only thing to be aware of is that it isn't the cheapest country, with the Jordanian Dinar worth more than the Euro! 

Like I mentioned above, Jordan is small in area and easy to get around. We used a mixture of  mini buses and taxis to get around and it was extremely straight forward. We hired a taxi to get from Madaba to Wadi Musa (Petra) so that we could stop of at the Dead Sea on the way and various other sites. That cost about $90 which isn't that cheap when compared to the bus, but we had a driver for around six hours and we had the freedom of going where we liked.

The food we ate was very similar to that of what had previously experienced in Israel and Lebanon. However there are also Bedouin dishes available which are stew-like and come with rice. I was bit addicted to falafel, so ate copious amounts of this! GOOD falafel is amazing.

Even though Jordan is rather expensive, we still were able to find good budget accommodation options. In particular we really recommend Saba'a in Wadi Musa - basic, but clean and super friendly and helpful service.

camping in wadi rum

We didn't do much shopping in Jordan, however I did get some necklaces made by our new Bedouin friend, Abdullah (you can see in our Petra post). Petra is full of jewelry stalls, but they all have the same stuff. Abdullah had some if these same pieces, but also made many of his own pieces, something that I noticed many of the other stalls did not do or offer. We spent hours chatting to him, drinking tea and admiring his beautiful collection. So if you are visiting Petra, be sure to visit him (he's stall is white and on the right hand side - 15min walk around the corner from the Treasury, after the theatre). He's one of the most genuine people we met while in Jordan and extremely interesting talk to.

Due to the issues the Middle East is going through at the moment Jordan is extremely quiet. There was, it seemed, only a hand full of people at Petra which was pretty incredible for a wonder of the world! Sadly though, many of the Jordanians in the tourist industry are suffering financially  and it was heartbreaking to see such genuine, friendly people desperate for business. Jordan is extremely safe and an easy country to navigate. If you are thinking of going, I do urge you to. It's so quiet, you'll have most of the amazing sites to yourself! I'll share one story of the amazing hospitality we experienced. Andrew and I both got bitten by something while we were on the road (at different times). The bites were healing, however after spending the night in Wadi Rum we both woke up with bad infections - maybe the desert dust - not too sure what it was. So when we got to Aqaba (about an hour south and our last stop before heading off to Egypt), Andrew decided we should go to a hospital and get some antibiotics, which was a wise move. We called a taxi, where we were blessed with an amazingly helpful driver. He made sure we went to a hospital that wouldn't cost us a fortune (even though we do have insurance), came in with us, translated, waited, ran around making sure all the paper work was done and signed, waited some more, and  made sure we got the correct scripts and medication. You should have seen this guy running around the hospital for us! It blew us away. And that is just one example we experienced. The only downer was that we weren't allowed to swim for three days after that!

Next: the Red Sea, Egypt.

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