Hayley visits Jordan
After catching the direct National express coach from Cardiff to London Heathrow Airport, I was ready to check in for my flight with Royal Jordanian airways. With free in-flight entertainment, blankets and an in-flight meal, I wasn't disappointed. After we arrived we checked into the conveniently located 3* Hotel Toledo in Amman city centre. With it's clean, fresh spacious rooms I was pleasantly surprised.
With an early start this morning we all appreciated a cup of Arabic cardamom coffee. We took a short bus journey to Mt. Nebo, the alleged burial site of Moses. Upon arrival, we got to see the fantastic views of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. With the largest collection of Byzantine mosaics, some of which are at least 1,400 years old, it is a site really worth visiting. We then travelled to the Madaba Arts and handicraft centre. This is a workshop where people from the local area who have disabilities or injuries which stop them having a normal everyday life can be employed. The Jordanian government supports these workshops by offering free shipping worldwide if tourists were to buy from the shop. We then travelled to the Greek Orthodox church which has the original mosaic map of the Holy Land.
After our lunch, we took a 3-hour drive down to Petra. We got there just in time for the sunset! We check into our rooms at the Amra Palace. The 3* boutique hotel is quite small - the rooms are warm and homely with fantastic views over Petra. It was time to get freshened up and go to our cooking preparation and demonstration for this evening's meal. We were hosted in a family run restaurant. They provided all the equipment and ingredients for us and we had a lovely feast which we had made ourselves! After our meal, we took the bus down to the Cave Bar. This is mainly for tourists but some locals do visit. The cave bar is made out of real sandstone and there are little cubby holes that you can sit in with sofas and a terrace to enjoy a drink or shisha at a very reasonable price, whilst enjoying the views over Petra.
This morning we had an early wake-up call so we could reach Petra without having the unforgiving sun on our backs. We arrived at the visitor centre and started walking towards The Siq. The surrounding landscape is arid and the pathway is uneven. Good walking shoes are needed! After a twenty minute walk, we reached The Siq.
As we walked through we could see the different rock formations and carvings in the sandstone. Before long there was an opening and before us was the treasury, the most popular attraction in the lost city of Petra. After a stop for lunch, we started our climb to the monastery. It was hard and needed a lot of perseverance. An hour later (and over 800 steps later) we reached the monastery. The monastery is the resting place of the Bedouin's latest king, it was intentionally built high up in the mountains, so only the worthy could visit. We then started our descent back to the bus. It was about 8 hours walking in total but completely worth it. The lost city of Petra is one of the seven wonders of the world and is absolutely amazing.
We then started our long bus ride to Wadi Rum where we stayed in a desert camp in the night. Upon arrival, it seemed like a basic camp with plain tents. As we walked into the tents we realised we all had bed, toilet and shower facilities. The Arabic decorations were very deep colours. It was a pleasant surprise after a long day of walking! We enjoyed a mixed grill BBQ for dinner and listened to a local musician whilst we drank our Turkish tea.
This morning we woke up and got ready for a morning of 4x4 off-roading in the Wadi Rum desert. We got to see the hieroglyphics and interesting rock formations whilst on the back of the truck. We then stopped at a Bedouin camp in the middle of the desert. The Bedouins welcomed us with tea and we learnt about their way of life. We bought head scarves from them and they put them on for us in the traditional style of dress. We then took a bus journey to Bethany, the Baptism site of Jesus. We walked down to the Jordan river where there the border between Jordan and Israel sits. We sat watching people in Israel getting baptised in the holy river.
From here we took a short bus journey to the Ramada Dead Sea 4* resort. We checked into our rooms and had a quick change so we were ready to go down to the Dead Sea. We took the private shuttle included with the hotel down to the beach. We got covered in mud and floated around the Dead Sea! Once we returned to our rooms we got changed to try out the Lebanese restaurant in the resort. The food was amazing and we tried the Mount Nebo local wine. To end the night we ate our dessert in the fire pit, which is done out with seats and pillows surrounding a firepit. It was a lovely end to the trip and we took an early flight home the following morning.