Note: If you run your mouse over the photographs below, you’ll find a description. And if you click on any photo, it will open into a larger screen, as a slide show.
Everyone I know who has been to Jordan has loved it. We now count among this group. We’re not easily impressed, we’re world travellers who know what we like, and why we like it, and we’re prepared to fly for hours to get there. Of course, I hear you say, if a country has a sight like Petra, then it’s a no brainer. And yes, Petra was magnificent. But just as Petra is more than The Treasury, Jordan too is more than Petra.
We had seven full days to explore Jordan, and we needed every one of these days. We arrived in the dark, after a harrowing navigating experience, and woke up in a canyon, 264 metres below sea level, in an extraordinary landscape. We were not far from the Dead Sea, and the drive in and out of our hotel was spectacular. Goats crossing the road stopped us for a photo op. The goat herd on his donkey popping up on the horizon, framed by the hills of Israel and the Dead Sea in the background, was an added treat. The Dead Sea itself has several major resorts, and is much more developed than on the Israeli side. Having experienced the Dead Sea in Israel, we felt free to eschew these large, ugly chain resorts and opt for our classy little spa hotel deep in an isolated valley. Not that we had time to indulge in any massages, or soak in any hot springs. (And not that at 40 degs C, we had any desire to soak in hot springs either). No, unfortunately our time there was short, and we had places to be and sights to see.
From Ma’In, we explored the north. Driving was, as I mentioned previously, a challenge, especially the first day, when we had sketchy maps, and had vastly under-estimated the time it would take to traverse northern Jordan. But we got to Jerash, and found the most extraordinary ruins of the Greco-Roman city, Gerasa; an Arch of Hadrian, a hippodrome, an amphitheatre, temples, theatres, an almost kilometre long colonnade and in case you needed more columns, a beautiful oval of columns that was once the Forum. Of course, we got there at mid-day, and so our explorations were curbed by the heat. But this complex was one of the best Roman ruins we have seen – easily rivalling Ephesus in Turkey, and extraordinary simply for its location –on a hill in a fairly inhospitable landscape, and so far from Rome. (Though of course, we don’t know how fertile it was 2000 years ago, and we later realised that Jerash – with olive groves and vegetable patches scattered about – is actually quite fertile compared to the rest of Jordan.)
… to be continued …