Successfully sneaking into a citadel

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
Trip End Sep 26, 2010

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yes. A lot of sneaking has been done recently, most of it grossly exaggerated, but this sneaking was completely unintentional. More on that later.

Leaving Damascus, we headed South. South, South, always South. Before long we got to the border of Jordan and commenced with passport control procedures. This basically involves getting passed from customs official to customs official until you finally get to one that has the patience to deal with a foreigner, and then getting quite easily stamped in. Good fun. We met with our Jordanian guide, which is mandatory for travelers in Jordan. They frown highly upon independent or group travel in Jordan without a guide, so it makes it easier for everyone if you just accept the way it is done here and go with the local guide. He is an interesting man named Mazin. He gets everyone to introduce themselves to each other even though most of us have been traveling together for 3 weeks already. He likes pluralizing everything.

Mazin: "Do not think of me as your guides, I am your friends. I am here to give you lots of the informations on the Jordans." Exact quote.

He is a good guy though and entertains us for the hour or so we are on the road to Amman. I zone out after a while and start watching the countryside go by. Random camels walking around. Lots of beige and white sand and rocks. Beige scrub. The buildings are all white and beige and the only thing distinguishing them from the ground are the dark windows and the flat roofs and box shapes above the sand line. Amman is very hilly and I am happy to arrive. One more bus journey down. Freshen up at the hotel then take a walk down into the city centre. The first thing I notice about Amman is the good infrastructure of the roads and highways. Traffic isn't very bad for a large city like this. It isn't the prettiest city either as we walk don a road littered with mechanic shops and rubbish all the way down into the heart of the city. From there I go off on my own. I check out the amphitheatre and this one is also impressive even though I have seen quite a few in the last 3 weeks. From there I spot the citadel so I start heading that direction. Supposedly the view of the city from up there is quite spectacular. When I'm getting closer to the entrance I ask a local which way it is just to be sure. He points up some stairs that lead away from the main road with a twinkle in his eye. "This way" he says. "Yes yes, citadel. This way." I decide to follow his directions and soon find myself climbing up some strange broken steps and starting to climb a hill. Then I realize I am in one of the ruins inside the citadel grounds. Hah! That was a good trick. I walk around and check out the views and they are indeed fantastic. Amman looks much nicer from higher ground. When I am up there the calls to prayer start echoing from the hilltops of Amman and it sounds fantastic so I just sit down on a bench and enjoy it for the ten minutes it lasts. After that I flag down a taxi and head back to the hotel. My buddy Alex will be traveling with me for the last 10 days of my round the world journey and I meet him at the hotel. It is awesome to see a friendly, familiar face and we spend the night catching up over beers and dinner.

The next morning, we have a basic breakfast and then head out for a long day-trip to see some of the things near Amman. The first stop is Madaba and the church there which is famous for a large mosaic. Jordan is very biblical so alot of the stops we make are going to be tied into the Bible. After Madaba, we head to the viewpoint where Moses looked over the promised land. It was pretty neat to be up at the top of Mt. Nebo. The view was hazy but still fairly good as we looked out over the Dead Sea and as far as Jerusalem in Israel. After Mt. Nebo, we headed to Bethany and checked out the spot where Jesus was baptised. We also went down and saw the River Jordan, and Israel on the other side of the river. These 3 stops were OK, but I was most looking forward to our last stop: the Dead Sea. We went to a resort on the beach here and I quickly found myself in a swimsuit and walking out into the Dead Sea. When I reached the point I could not stand anymore I pushed off the bottom and instantly my legs flopped up to the surface. It was crazy how buoyant I became. I floated around for a good 10 minutes before the concentration of salt in the water actually started to make me a bit sore. Then I headed in and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the nice resort pool overlooking the ocean. Really cool to float in the Dead Sea. What an experience.

After we ran out of time at the resort we headed back into Amman and just had some quality street food and spent a bit of time walking around the city centre at night. Was an early night because leaving very early in the morning for one of the 7 wonders: Petra.

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Tom on

Maybe things have changed, but I've been here with a group for a couple weeks without a guide, and haven't had a single problem.

Tom on

Maybe the difference is that I flew in to Amman, rather than crossing the Syrian border.

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