Discovering Jordan

11 January 2015

It was the day before Eid Celebration when I boarded my plane for Amman, Jordan. I was so excited I had to walk back and forth while waiting for the plane boarding time. As most of you know, Jordan is home to some of the World’s greatest heritage sites.  This thought alone made me pack my bags and plan my first Eid Holiday out of Dubai, which was just roughly 3 hours away with a direct flight. Talk about convenience! The weather in Jordan during October was just ripe for first time visitors like me, not too hot and not too cold.

My flight with Royal Jordanian was pleasant enough and the Queen Alia International Airport has free WIFI for all its visitors, the whole passport control process was a smooth sailing as well. After leaving the airport and heading straight to Amman, I was glad I took a late morning flight so I can view the countryside of Jordan, which was dotted with olive trees and beautiful stonewashed houses.  The airport was just 30 minutes away from the city. My accommodation was the Ibis Hotel, a budget friendly and conveniently located in the west side of Amman, right across Amman Mall and very near to the numerous restaurants in the area.  I was told by my friend that there were numerous night clubs in Amman as well, like the Trader Vics and even my hotel has a bar.

On the second day of my stay, I was lucky enough to have a good friend of mine to show me around Jordan for the rest of my vacation.  Since I was staying in the city, we took advantage in checking out the famous Citadel Hill locally known as Jabal Al Qal’a . Cutadel Hill is home to the famous majestic pillars of the Temple of Hercules, the Umayyad Palace and the  remains of a Byzantine Church. It was once a thriving byzantine town that covered much of the hill. In order to enter the whole area, visitors are asked to pay only 2 JOD. You can also visit the Jordan Archeological Museum in there, which houses some rare artifacts that dates back as far as the Iron Age.

Ruins in Amman JordanTemple of HerculesRoman Amphitheatre

Just right across the Citadel Hill, you can see the Roman Theatre, which has an underground tunnel leading all the way up to the Citadel Hill. The Roman Theatre has a fee of 1 JOD.

The third day in Jordan, we headed off to Petra in the early hours of the morning. The famous 2000 year old city carved out from rose red colored sandstone cliffs. It was a 2 hour and 30 minutes drive from the city of Amman towards Petra. An entrance fee of 50 JOD was needed in order to experience the whole place. It was an extraordinary sight, with its near impossible architecture predating thousands of years ago; it was just simply pure mystery as to how the Nabateans built the whole city. We walked on foot, allowing ourselves to drink in the whole atmosphere.  We were greeted by the famous Treasury which you may have seen in one of the famous Indiana Jones movies.  In the middle of the afternoon, we decided to head farther to the south of Jordan, this time to the alluring Valley of the Moon, “Wadi Rum”, home to thousand years old of rock paintings and temples. There are no entrance fees to this place, however you might need a Bedouin guide if you wanted to experience the night in the desert in the local way.  I highly recommend that you make your own lunch or if you want to have a real taste of local shawarma, there are a lot of restaurants just outside the entrance of Petra. For Wadi Rum, it would be best for you to bring your own snacks for the journey.

Petra Jordan           The Treasury

The last leg of my journey in Jordan, was to the Dead Sea. The trip from the city took about 1 hour to get to the lowest point of the Earth. My friend drove me to one of the open beaches, where we gladly took off our shoes and had a quick dip into the famous salty waters. The Dead Sea is well known for its healing properties for the skin, as well as the picturesque view right across from where we stood, the mountains of West Bank. If you want to experience the full five star luxury of bathing, there are a lot of 5 star resorts in the Dead Sea which is just highly accessible from the main road. Afterwards, we made a quick stop over in the biblical site of River Jordan, the place where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized. The baptism site is highly protected by the Jordan Army, who perform regular checks the minibuses travelling to the site. A local guide will welcome you and give out the information about the whole site. 

Wadi Rum    Local Souvenirs    The Baptism Site

There are numerous vintage cafes and restaurants in store for you in Amman, if you want to try the historical and old city feel dining experience for breakfast or lunch, I highly recommend Jafra Café in the city centre. Popular among locals, it’s not hard to find. While you are in that area, you might as well take your time bargaining in one of souvenir shops that line the streets in that area.  Your trip to Jordan will never be complete without tasting the gastronomical delight of Mansaf. A traditional Jordanian dish made of stewed Lamb in fermented dried yogurt, topped with rice, almonds, pine nuts and thin bread called Shrak.

The Dead Sea   Yummy Jordanian Food

All in all, Jordan is a perfect example of an ancient city that has withstood the test of time and balancing the rapid influx of modernization as shown by the ongoing construction of numerous new towers. The Jordanians in general are respectful, courteous and decent people. During my stay, I was warmly welcomed by the hotel staff; they do appreciate when you shake hands with them or even nod to greet some random stranger.  Though it would be best to dress modestly and avoid public displays of affection, keeping in mind this is still an Arab Country. All throughout the city, you will notice that there are almost no beggars in the streets, though you can still spot the people who ride donkeys and live in tents, they are known to own sheep and goats and have lived their life in that fashion.

My entire trip was worth every penny and time! I would love to go back to Jordan and explore some of its hidden wonders like the diving site in Aqaba and the emerald forest of Ajloun located northwest of the country.  What are you waiting for?  This treasure trove of amazing travel experience is just a 3 hour plane ride away from Dubai, Yalla to Jordan!