From Israel, Jenstar and I made our way to Jordan where for the first few days, we based ourselves in Amman and our days took on a familiar pattern. I’d spend mornings at the Lebanese embassy trying to sort out my visa (for various reasons, I ended up going three times and then a fourth to collect) while Jenstar would go for a run and then get breakfast ready. As often happens when you spend some time in one place, we soon had our favourites – the bread man across the side alley from the hostel, the feta and gherkin man two shops down, the kid selling tomatoes back across the alley and then an unbelievable hummus restaurant across the road.
In case you’re wondering just how good this Hummus really is, we not only went every day of the six we were in Amman but on our way back from southern Jordan to the airport to catch our flight to Lebanon, we went 45 minutes out of our way into hectic downtown Amman to pick up some that we didn’t even have time to eat at the restaurant but in the cab on our way to the airport.
Both Jenstar and I thought that Amman felt like the Middle East (unlike Israel, which felt like a very western country) – dry and hot, desert everywhere and white/brown buildings that blend in with the desert surroundings. We visited a gorgeous mosque, wandered round some awesome souqs, hiked up the Citadel for awesome views of the city and discovered that the city has the world’s third tallest free-standing flagpole. (FYI – Aqaba has the world’s second tallest free standing flagpole so if flagpoles are your thing, Jordan’s where it’s at).
Aside from wandering round Amman itself, we took day trips to visit the ruins of the ancient city of Jerash, the gorgeous mosaics in Madaba, the burial place of Moses at Mt. Nebo, and to float in the Dead Sea. On a suggestion from a Frenchman we met briefly at our hostel, we went hiking/swimming in the stunning Wadi Mujib canyon, which was one of the highlights of our time in the country. One walks through the 80m high walled canyon in knee deep water, climbing up rocks using ropes in places, before ending up at a beautiful waterfall.
After a few days basing ourselves out of Amman, we headed south with our first stop being Petra and Wadi Musa. We decided to buy the three day package given that we had time on our hands, which cost us an expensive US$60. Petra is an ancient city built by the Nebateans and it’s deservedly one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Walking in through the 1.2 km winding natural sandstone gorge known as the Siq is magnificent and some of the sights are breathtaking. The gorgeous Treasury and Monastery, which is this blog’s featured image, along with all the caves are carved out of the rock, and you wonder how they did it. Aside from the stunning temples, a real highlight was the conversations we had over cups of tea with the local Bedouins as we caught a brief glimpse into their history and learnt about their culture.
Whilst in Wadi Musa (the town just outside of Petra that one stays at), we were picked up walking to Petra by a local we’d met on the bus. En route, we were invited for dinner and what an evening it turned out to be. We enjoyed an amazing dinner sitting cross-legged on the living room floor after an impromptu musical performance with the ude (a Jordanian guitar) and singing. Thereafter we were taken to a local wedding; wedding go for three nights with the sexes mixing only on the final night. There were well over a hundred men (with Jenstar the only girl), sitting in a circle with lots of dancing, the playing of instruments (even the bag pipes turned up at 1 pt) and, for some reason, the firing of weapons!! It was a magical evening experiencing something very local; a night that reminds one why you travel.
(This hospitality we enjoyed was felt throughout the country. We were constantly welcomed to Jordan and the people are super friendly.)
From Petra, we headed further south to safari in the stunning Wadi Rum desert and dive in the gorgeous Gulf of Aqaba. Some of the sea life included a friendly turtle, an incredibly active octopus, fierce lion fish, heaps of Puffer fish, baby and mama eels, tons more fish of all shapes, sizes and colours and then some beautifully bright coral.
Finally, a word on the food which has been simply outstanding! We’ve enjoyed delicious hummus and fresh bread with all meals while the lamb is simply some of the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s also incredibly affordable and most meals cost us less than US$5.
Oh, in case you’re wondering about the title, Jenstar was walking down the street in Aqaba the other day when she was asked “How many camels to make you happy?” She said she’d get back to them with the number!