Northern Jordan - Amman, Umm Qais, Aijlun, Jerash

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our flight arrived the afternoon before from Egypt and we were duly picked up by a representative of the tour company we had booked through (Bunniks). For Jordan and Syria we opted for an independent tour designed for just us, but with all accommodation and tours organised and booked ahead. This is not our usual way of doing things but thought for the Middle East this would be a good alternative. After being picked up it was explained to us that they (Atlas Tours the Jordan Travel Wholesaler) were short staffed and could not provide us with a guide for the whole trip but our driver would be with us all the way and would organise guides at each stop, which seemed OK to us. The Cham Palace hotel was quite upmarket for us and seemed so civilized after Egypt, another bonus was a deli and pharmacy across the road.. Buffet Dinner was included and we are now in total withdrawal from not having fruit and grainy breads in our diet that we have been resorting to "stealing" the garnishes from the deserts! Kiwi fruit, strawberry and orange slices for decoration of other dishes make a tasty dessert.

Our day began early with a buffet breakfast and our driver Mazen picked us up at 8.00am. We headed off to the most Northerly point we were to visit in Jordan, Umm Qais a Greco Roman City with spectacular views over the Golan Heights in Syria (in dispute with Israel?), the Sea of Galilee in Israel, the Palestinian Territories and the Jordan Valley. Our promised guide didn't eventuate - hummmm - but it was OK as our driver got a tourist policeman to tell him what we needed to look at and our driver then interpreted for us. We also had the good and faithful Lonely Planet and enjoyed discovering the history of the site.

Next stop was an Arab castle at Ajlun, built as protection against the crusaders. Right on the top of a hill with astounding views over the countryside. This castle was one of many dotting the landscape and used pigeon carriers to send messages. Once again no guide eventuated but we were happy to explore on our own.

Our final place for the day was the beautifully preserved Roman City of Jerash which covers a huge area and even has an operating hippodrome for chariot races! The huge forum is quite distinctive as it is an oval shape instead of round.The site consisted of temples, gates, theatre and the colonnaded street all in good condition since it was built in AD129! This time we DID have a guide - a fabulous guide - an old man who LOVED what he was doing and made the history come alive and even knocked back his baksheesh (tip).

A busy first day in Jordan but very memorable. When we returned to the hotel we had a nice surprise.We had a room with twin beds the night before instead of a double. I asked if we could have them moved together, by leaving a note for housekeeping (by drawing a diagram of 2 people in the bed together) and left 1 Jordanian Dinar as a tip. When we came back into the room it had been turned into a romantic King bed with crisp white doona, and towels folded into the shape of love hearts! The bath mat was shaped into a rose and happy faces were put on the washcloths with coloured thread. It made our day.
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