Posts Tagged With: Jordan

Mountains and Mud Packs

The Treasury

The Treasury

Sequel to the earlier post!

I first saw Petra around the age of 10.

And that was when ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ released and my dad, a film buff, took us to see the film. Only recently did I know that large parts of the film were shot in Petra and inside The Treasury.

As a brief introduction, Petra is a fabled rose city in Jordan that was once a thriving kingdom which fell into obscurity for centuries after a devastating earthquake. Having been discovered only in the 19th century, it is touted as one of the new seven wonders of the world.

And now I know why.

Obelisk Tomb

Obelisk Tomb

The morning after we landed in Amman, we drove for about an hour to reach the historical city. Instead of staying at the nearest town Wadi Musa, we checked into the pretty-in-pink ‘Petra Guest house’ that pretty much blends with the archaeological site near it.

The rest of the hot dry day was spent finding our way through the canyon and included a brief 10 min donkey-ride that I was compelled to take (and for the record, would never do again!). The mountains are imposing but impressive and the carvings along the way give a sneak peek into how important a trade route this was during its time.

Ah'mad and his postcards!

Ah’mad and his postcards!

The canyon today, has its share of souvenir sellers and a few small shops and as we walked, there was one boy selling postcards – I stopped to take a quick photo of him and moved on. After a couple of minutes someone tapped me from behind. I turned around to see our li’l fella pushing a string of postcards into my hand. Thinking he wanted me to buy it, I refused however he told me in impeccable English – “I want to give this to you free since you took my photo” – that was a first! He refused to take the cards back, shook hands with all of us introducing himself (“My name is Ah’mad, how do you do”) and happily agreed for one more group photo!

And so I returned back to the guesthouse that evening exhausted and tanned but with newly acquired historical information and a whole bunch of Petra postcards!

Mt Nebo madaba

Mount Nebo

On the last day we drove to the Dead Sea, briefly stopping at Madaba, a small town and Mount Nebo, the burial place of Moses. We also attempted to find our way to the Baptism site (of Jesus) and went down a solitary road eventually doing a U-turn for fear of ending up on the controversial Israel-Palestine land, a stone’s throw away. Reached Dead sea and had a booking at the Kempinski – I did tell ya we splurged but guess what, being off-season we got upgraded to a suite! That quite shut me up about having

View of West Bank / Jerusalem from the resort

View of West Bank / Jerusalem from the resort

exceeded our budget. 😉 Dead sea is the lowest point on earth and loaded with minerals and abundance of salt (Trivia: The salt level is a whopping 33% as compared to other seas that have a ~4% salt concentration) and a day spent here is all about floating in the sea (aquaphobes, do not fear!), smearing the therapeutic mudpack, floating, washing it away and repeating the whole cycle a couple or more times during the stay. And then hoping to look 10 years younger! That said, the whole process was a lot of fun despite the fierce sun and well, the skin did feel a lot more smooth!

And that wrapped up a short but exciting trip!

My 2 cents:

The people are warm, the food delicious and there are enough sights to see over a long weekend. However, despite the fact that we got some decent off-season deals, it might make sense to go during cooler months. At least to float a little longer in the Dead sea!

Dead sea float

The float!

Related post: A wedding in Jordan

Categories: Middle East, Travelogue | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

A wedding in Jordan

It’s been a little more than a year since I’ve been in the Middle-east and amongst the many countries I’d like to travel to, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan flagJordan have held a certain amount of interest – partly due to food (I fell for falafel!) but also because I’ve been curious to understand why these countries appear to be less conservative compared to some of their regional counterparts. While travelling to Lebanon & Syria are out of question because of the current crisis, Jordan despite its proximity to Palestine and Syria is quite safe as I write this.

This was one trip that perfectly fell into place! In between a job change, I had 4 days free before plunging into the new one and moreover, the husband’s colleague, a Jordanian, was getting married in Amman over the same weekend. I couldn’t have asked for more!

roman theatre

Drove past the Roman Theatre

And so Jordan we went. But unlike most other trips where I’ve used my financial thrift to full force (some call it ‘miserly’ but I strongly beg to differ) this time I was ordered to indulge a little (yes, by the husband – he who shall not be named). Hence, to prevent me from booking a cosy B&B or ‘couchsurf’, all hotel bookings were outsourced to another couple with whom we travelled.

It was fun, nevertheless. We spent Night 1 & 3 in Amman, the capital city. Reached Jordan late into the night, hired a car and drove from the outskirts into the heart of the city, finally reaching our hotel after getting lost a few times. The weather was surprisingly cool for this time of the year and while the traffic was much more chaotic than Dubai, Jordanian drivers are a genuinely

Main course: A plateful of cucumber!

Main course: A plateful of cucumber!

civilised lot who appear to to abide by traffic laws. Roads are dotted with innumerable coffee shops that stay very much open into wee hours of the morning.

Quickly leaving our bags in the rooms, we set out walking at 11pm exploring Jordan at night. Seeing a crowded little kebab corner, we went in expecting the food to be good. Thanks to our friend who could speak a smatter of Arabic, we managed to communicate. The server ofcourse thought I was from another planet – I got a plate filled with cucumber, lettuce & hummus all soaked in olive oil! The others got their kebabs & fries and lets just say, it wasn’t the best beginning for our tummies.

CoupleThe next morning, we were off to see the famed mountains of Petra and on Day 2 we returned to Amman for the wedding reception. I guess I was expecting a very Islamic tradition-heavy event but it was quite the contrary. The whole setting was very western but exquisitely done; they had also called in some local folks to perform traditional music and dance. The dinner spread though, was as regional as it could get – from falafels and moutabels to dessert delicacies like halawa (similar to the indian ‘halwa’) and Baklava (Ooh, how I am starting to love you!). Finally not to forget the protagonists of the evening – the bride in a splendid white off-shoulder gown and the groom looking dapper in a black suit – who danced to some foot-tapping Arabian pop music!

Souvenir-Peach preserveWhile we dint spend too much time around Amman, we occasionally asked for directions, stopped for coffee or interacted with local staff in hotels & eateries and everywhere, I found Jordanians to be exceptionally warm and hospitable. In one instance where we fueled for some Qahwa (distinctly-flavoured arabic coffee – thumbs up!) the shop-owner was so happy to see us that he refused to let us pay!

Simply put, the Levant bug has bitten me. Watch this space!

Also read about Petra & Dead Sea

Categories: Middle East, Travelogue | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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