Wednesday, October 7, 2009

But Wait, There's More!



29 September to 4 October, 2009 – Shobak, Karak, Madaba, Jaresh, and Amman, Jordan

OK, before we get stuck in to this entry, I have created a photo especially for Courtney, who suggested we need some help finding Jo at the Monastery in Petra.


For Courtney - There's Jo
For Courtney - There's Jo
Jo in front of the Monastery at Petra.



Now, down to business. I do really want to make a point that we think Jordanian people are wonderful. We encountered amazingly friendly and hospitable people everywhere, both Muslim and Christian. We had invitations to tea, and invitations to meals. We had friendly dealings (almost) every time with people who wanted to sell us things. This is one corner of the world where most will accept “no” for an answer. Thumbs up to Jordan.

Minor thumbs down for signposting. Usually, we found enough signs to get us most of the way to places we were looking for, but there always seemed to be one or two intersections where the place names marked would change, and the destination we were heading to would just disappear. Or, they would signpost for people coming the other way. Had us doing a few U-turns during the week.

We came to Jordan for one thing – Petra. We planned the stopover many months (almost a year) ago, but only started reading what else Jordan had to offer about a week before flying in. Wow. We did not realise just how many things there would be to keep us occupied. So, with Petra down, we decided a couple of things would not be achievable, and to focus on sights between Petra and Amman. This, thankfully, covered many of the Biblical sights. It also included a few of the better archaeological places.

We did three significant castles. Two were important and well preserved Crusader castles, while the third has historical meaning.


Descending In To The Secret Passage
Descending In To The Secret Passage
Shobak Castle, Jordan. This secret passage descends almost 400 steps, in pitch darkness, with many steps worn or missing. It starts in the castle, at the hilltop. Eventually, after walking or sliding down, listening to loose gravel bounce away from us in the darkness, we emerged at the base of the hill, a few hundred metres away from the walls. This secret passage could be used to bring supplies in to the castle during times of siege.


The Crusader Gallery
The Crusader Gallery
Karak Castle, Jordan. The Crusader Gallery, formerly the stables. One of the beautiful Crusader forts in Jordan.


Herod's Castle
Herod's Castle
The pillars stand around the Triclinium, or dining area. This is Herod's castle, so that triclinium is, in all probability, where Salome danced for Herod Antipas (successor to Herod the Great). Bewitched, Herod asked Salome what she wanted. She asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. This wish was granted, in this castle, although the hypothesis is that the beheading would have been performed outside of the castle.



We (well, I) did wonder about including sodomy in the blog title, but Jo convinced me that would be inappropriate. She is right, you know. Bad signage (see above) meant we never did find Gomorrah, but we found what was left of Sodom.


The Remains of Sodom
The Remains of Sodom
A layer of ash, a foot or so, covers all that remains of what was once a major town. While no records survive, some historians believe this to be Sodom (Gomorrah is just down the road, in a similar state). These towns were destroyed about 2300 BC, probably ending in a great blaze.



Other sights of Biblical note that we visited included Lot's cave, and Mt Nebo (where Moses stood when he viewed the promised land). We drove through a canyon that was once the border between the Amorites and Moabites, and we saw a number of towns and villages (both in ruins and currently occupied) that were mentioned in the bible.


Gorgeous Mosaic Detail
Gorgeous Mosaic Detail
Floor detail from the middle of the first century. Church of SS Lot & Procopius, near Mt Nebo.



Some “on the way” photos.


Common Road Sign, Jordan
Common Road Sign, Jordan
If Germans and Americans can run around Australia photographing kangaroo warning signs, then we can do the equivalent when we travel.


Tea With A Bedouin
Tea With A Bedouin
Invited by a Bedouin to stop for tea by the road.



We spent a couple of nights in the town of Madaba. We will remember that stop mainly for the hospitality of the hotel owner, which was just the start. The Queen Ayola hotel (remember that name, if you ever go to Madaba in Jordan). After giving us a discount for no apparent reason, we were invited to dinner that night (along with a German couple who were also staying) at his home. We met Khalil's wife, Deema, and soon the party grew with some other relatives dropping in. His aunt and uncle, Janet and Osama, were a fantastic and fun couple, too, and the 8 of us got along very well. Khalil made us “upside down”, which is apparently a very popular Jordanian dish. By the end of the evening, Janet had organised us all for lunch on Friday. She was going to make pizza.

Friday came, and we went for lunch. Lunch was actually about 12 or 14 people, and she made 18 or 20 pizzas! A giant pizza and bread oven sat on her balcony, and she is apparently renowned through the family and friends circles there for her pizzas. Fantastic.


Khalil and Deema
Khalil and Deema
Khalil owns the Queen Ayola Hotel in Madaba, where we stayed. He invited to his home, and he cooked a Jordanian dish, roughly translated as “Upside Down”. This is a great example of the Jordanian hospitality that we encountered continually.


Osama Delights In Being Surrounded By Beautiful Women
Osama Delights In Being Surrounded By Beautiful Women
Deema, Michaela, and Jo were posing for a photo on the swing chair. Osama thought the photo would be enhanced with his presence. Happy photo!


Janet Made Us Pizza
Janet Made Us Pizza
Yes, Jordanian hospitality extended again, as we ate pizza at the home of Osama and Janet, uncle and aunt of Khalil from the Queen Ayola Hotel.



We made it down to the Dead Sea (last time, I was photographed floating, so this time it was Jo's turn). We turned our back on the resorts and official beaches, and just found a place on the road where we could drive down and park the car, and then walked down the rocky slope to the shore. There, we applied our Dead Sea mud (bought, we didn't just slap on our faces stuff from the shore), dried off, and washed off in the highly saline water. Then, salty as all-get-out, we drove to some hot springs to wash off properly. Oooh, our skin felt so good!


Dead Sea Mud
Dead Sea Mud
Our Nephew saw this photo. “Will you still have mud on your face when you come to Perth?” No Ben, we did wash it off. And our skin felt magnificent.


Dead Sea Float
Dead Sea Float
Ben, this is how we washed the mud off. In 39% saline water. We then went to some hot springs (see next photo). And then, we did shower as well! So, lots of chances to get clean. In 1993, we were on the other side, and I had to pose while Jo took the photo, so it was Jo's turn this time.


A 50 Degree Waterfall
A 50 Degree Waterfall
This waterfall is 50 degrees – that's Celsius, not Fahrenheit. In Fahrenheit, that's over 120. We swam here. It was hard going. It was very hot. We didn't swim in the next one. It was 65 degrees! Hot hot hot!



Jerash, north of Amman, one of the major Roman towns of New Testament times, was a wonderful stop. The photos speak volumes. Pity the accommodation options were not better, but at least we had our tent with us. Oh, we also got a cheap lunch by playing hard to get. Not deliberately, but after eyeing off the amazing buffet and almost being tempted, we thought we might check one of the other options. The manager ran out after us and, very quietly, suggested we might like to consider eating if the price was a little lower. We did consider, and we stuffed ourselves on some really good grub!


Roman Forum, Jerash
Roman Forum, Jerash
The colonnaded oval plaza of the Roman city of Jerash, in northern Jordan.


Steps Of The Roman Theatre, Jerash
Steps Of The Roman Theatre, Jerash
Late morning on the steps of the South Theatre, Jerash.


Temple of Artemis, Jerash
Temple of Artemis, Jerash
11 of the 12 pillars at the Temple of Artemis in Jerash. The temple went through a number of different incarnations, but the pillars remained in each of the different eras.


A Stretch Of Roman Road
A Stretch Of Roman Road
This street in Jerash was lined with columns, behind which would have stood all sorts of buildings, and under which would have traded all sorts of goods. The paving stones are rutted by the passing of thousands of chariots. This would certainly have been one very impressive street.



One Jerash sight deserves singling out because of its slightly surreal nature...


Jordanian Bagpiper and Drummer
Jordanian Bagpiper and Drummer
A sight (and sound) we did not expect in Jordan. A nice demonstration of the acoustics of the Roman theatre in Jerash. They belted out tunes like “Ode to Joy”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Yankee Doodle”.



It was a long day. We had camped, so woke reasonably early. Spent 5 hours wandering around Roman ruins, ate a huge buffet lunch to keep us going, as we had a 2 a.m. flight to catch. All that was fine, but we still had some hours to kill. We decided a stop in Amman, Jordan's capital, would be just what we needed, especially since it was really not out of the way.


A Cute Pair In Amman
A Cute Pair In Amman
A pair of kittens to win the hearts of anyone and everyone.


Modern Café Culture Meets Traditional - Internet And A Nargileh
Modern Café Culture Meets Traditional - Internet And A Nargileh
We sat down in a typical café in downtown Amman to smoke a nargileh (peach flavoured in this instance) and drink some mint tea. It turned out the café had wifi, enabling us to check our emails. A classic merging of the traditional and the progressive.



And soon we were on our flight to Bangkok. Really feel like we are on our way home, now, as Asia is next door.

2 comments:

courtney said...

*snort*
sure thats Jo standing there with all the red arrows pointing at her... yu-huh. You just marked the photo with a think texta... Im onto you!

Seriously, Jordan looks like an amazing place, and not at all a place I have ever dreamt of going to. The history.... a-maz-zing. Great. Another place for me to put onto my "one day" list....

Shenandoah bed and breakfast said...

This is a great place and a beautiful destination for the camera eyes to capture all the sensational, mesmerizing and excited moments.

Turn your fascination beyond into the reality and see and feel the true and an awesome beauty of nature, catch all the captivating moments with all the glitz and glory of this amazing destination on earth.