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Category Archives: Jordan

Little Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba – Jordan

Author: Kendal

Since the sun sets early here (5:30pm) we make sure to get a head start to try and do everything on that days list of activates before the sun goes down. So starting the day at 8:30am we headed to Beida (Little Petra), it was the same as Petra except not as big. Little Petra is a place where the Nebataeans used to entertain their guests. The Nebataeans built this cool city around 100 B.C.

Primary structure in Little Petra

We weren't sure if Keegan was going to make it up but he did.

After that we headed to Wadi Rum for a jeep tour.  Wadi Rum is the largest desert in Jordan.  On the way to Wadi Rum our guide, Hytham (that’s his name), told us about how arranged marriages used to work and how they work today, and about how boys and girls go to separate schools and a lot of other things, it was very informative. Once we got to the meeting point, we switched into our guide’s truck and began our 2½ hour tour of Wadi Rum. Wadi means valley or dry riverbed like a desert and Rum comes from an Arabic root word meaning high or elevated.  So, it was a huge desert with mountains reaching to the sky. The ride was very bumpy, to say the least, I’m pretty sure my bum is still bruised. The first thing he showed us was the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, comes from the Book of Proverbs, 9:1: ‘Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars’. T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) wrote an autobiographical book about his experiences as a British soldier between 1916-1918. He was the one that ended up naming that mountain range the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The next stop we had to get out and climb this giant sand hill. When we were going up we started yelling “HELLOOOOO” randomly because the echo was really cool. We raced down the hill, even though going up the hill was deadly the race down made it worth the hike. Continuing the tour we stopped by the rock art on certain walls in Wadi Rum. The rock art dates back to about 10,000-12,000 B.C., if not more. Our guide then drove us to a big tea tent, inside they made us their famous Bedouin tea, the people here say it’s too sweet but we thought it needed more sugar.  As we sat by the fire with our tea and listened to this large Italian tour group ask for more sugar, we saw the face of Lawrence of Arabia carved into a large rock. The tour was a different kind of experience that we can add to our list of experiences on our trip.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

A great view of Wadi Rum!

The distance to go up wasn't that bad it was the sand that was the killer.

That's me and my mom running down.

Here's a picture of some of that old Rock Art

Walking to a Bedouin Tea Tent with our guide. The rock right in front of us has a picture of the face of Lawrence of Arabia carved into it.

This is a picture inside the tea tent

Meeting back up with Hytham we hopped into the van and drove to Aqaba, which is right across from Egypt on the Red Sea. Once we got there we were pleasantly surprised to learn that we were going to be staying in a nice beach resort while in Aqaba for a few days. Since Aqaba is farther south than Petra, the weather was very warm and we even got to go swimming and get some sun time in, which was a big bonus! There were U.S. military personnel also staying at the resort with us, they told us that they came from Oman and have a few days off before heading up through the Suez Canal to a Naval Station in Rota, Spain. We could see their large ship from the beach. It was great to see all the different U.S. men and women together just laughing and having a good time. Keegan and my dad even played volleyball with a bunch of them.  I know what they are doing is serious. I guess I’m starting to better understand that we have a great melting pot of many different types of people in the U.S. and I like that.

We could see the US military ship from the beach

It was kind of hazy but you can still see Egypt across the Red Sea

Here we are just having some fun

That's Hytham our great guide in Jordan.

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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Jordan

 

Mount Nebo and the Dead Sea – Jordan

Author: Amy

Our trip to Jordan and Israel was not in our original travelling plans but what a great decision it was to come to these countries.  The education has been immense on so many levels.  I must say, a country is typically prettier and nicer with someone showing you around.  You get right to the “It” spot, see the wonder and move along – that, I’m sure, has something to do with our impression of these countries.  Anyhoo!  We visited Madaba, which is a Christian town known as the city of mosaics.  There is a Greek Orthodox Church that holds a huge mosaic map of the Holy Land.  Queen Nor was the queen of Jordan – she was born American and the people loved her.  While she was Queen she made a number of advances for women and children in Jordan.  We visited a mosaic handicraft shop that employs handicapped people to make the mosaics and the profit goes to them to help their community.  We learned how the mosaics are made and what makes the pricing different — the smaller the tiles the higher the price.  The same day we climbed Mount Nebo where you can see all of the Holy Land, the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho and Jerusalem.  The Jordan River Valley has profound meaning for religious travelers.  Although they never found his remains they mark Mount Nebo as the site of Moses’ death.  The church there was under construction so we stayed outside; it was a very windy day.  Our last stop of the day was at a crusader castle 900 meters above sea level in the city of Kerak.  We’ve learned that the crusader castles are huge and this castle was just that.  It was a very dark castle with stone-walls and seemingly endless passages.

Mosaic map of the Jordan River Valley at the church in Madaba, Jordan

Outside the church in Madaba, Jordan

A windy day at Mount Nebo

On Mount Nebo looking out at the Jordan River Valley

Another amazing day was visiting the Baptism site of Jesus by John the Baptist.  It is a very spiritual site for religious travelers as well.  It’s a great visit with an actual guide and an audio guide.  Jordan opened the site in 1996 after they cleared it of landmines.  As you reach the river Jordan where the Baptism took place you see Israel on the other side with their tourists visiting the Baptism site from that country.  Both sides have armed guards protecting the site and the border – that was amazing for us to see.  Many churches from many countries and of various denominations have been built and are being built in this area.  It’s very pretty and it was warm in January, I can only imagine how hot it would be to visit in the summer.

The site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus

Walking to the Jordan river - the baptism site of Jesus

See Israel on the other side of the river, we are on the Jordan side of the Jordan river. Military from each country sits armed on their side of the river.

Our tour of Jordan ended with a visit to the Dead Sea.  It truly is mind blowing to think of all the things that have happened in Jordan over the centuries.  We feel so fortunate to have had a glimpse of this part of the world and trace many of the steps that have been so powerful in the history of the world.  We arrived late in the day at the Dead Sea and you could reach it from our hotel so we walked down and took a look at it and decided the next day we would venture in and take our mud bath and do our float.  The sea was calm and we were looking forward to our big adventure.  Oh what a difference a day makes.  After breakfast the following day we dressed in our swimsuits and walked down to the Dead Sea.  Yes, it was overcast and a bit windy but we were ready to “do this thing!”  WRONG!  Red flags were all over the beaches and a guard from the hotel said, “it’s not safe you can’t go in”.  We made the best of it by rubbing the mud with all the special minerals on us and wiping it off with the water from the Dead Sea.  The water is almost like a mixture of water and baby oil.  The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth at about 1300 feet below sea level (or 400 meters) and has an amazing 30%+ salinity percentage, it easily stings your eyes and any open wounds. The Dead Sea is called the Dead Sea because of its extreme mineral content; there are no plants, seaweed, moss, or any fish or creatures of any kind that can live in that water . . . simply amazing.  All along the shore you see the rocks covered in salt.  We were sad our Dead Sea adventure turned out that way but we enjoyed the rest of our day just the same at the hotel and even got some schoolwork done!

The Dead Sea with the red flag flying!

Applying the miracle minerals . . .

Although they wouldn't let us swim we put our feet and hands in.

The mud seems oily and the Dead Sea water almost seems like water with baby oil in - amazing!

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Jordan

 

Petra, Jordan

Author: Steve

We had intended on going to Istanbul after Spain but after realizing the weather was much colder in January than we had initially thought, Amy started looking into the Middle-East (only one backpack and no real winter clothes is an easy excuse to help dictate some of our travels).  Obviously we have heard and read mixed reviews about the Middle-East some saying that certain countries were beautiful retreats while other’s saying to stay away from the region completely. After a lot of research we decided to stay away from the countries that could or would possibly put us in danger and venture to a couple of countries that could provide great historical experiences and allow us all to learn about a part of world we know nothing about other than what we see and read in the media: those two countries being Jordan and Israel.

One of our day trips was Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Petra is easily one of the most eye inspiring places I have ever seen. To walk down the path of the Siq, a dark narrow gorge, which is over 1 km long and huge rock walls some as tall as 650 feet on each side is mind-boggling enough and all worth the trip but then you come upon the majestic view of “The Treasury” . . . it simply moves you beyond words.  I never imagined it would be so incredible. That all of this was built starting around the 6th century B.C. and still stands today for us to walk through to see first hand the magnitude of the builders during that period is something very hard to grasp. We spent the first two hours with a tour guide as he walked us though all the highlights of some of the main portions of the site.  Then we took the next 5 hours to walk and venture on our own, with the main objective of walking the 800 plus steps up to see the Monastery and view the End-of-the-World viewing point.  Since we are seeing so much during our time in Jordan and Israel we only had one day in Petra but you could easily stay there a number of days and probably still not see everything, it is that big. I am blown away by the ruins and monuments I have seen thus far in Jordan, they are huge and plenty and I am simply amazed by one place just as much as the next.

We all took a short horse ride into Petra.

Kendal and Amy walking through the Siq

You can clearly see the outline of men and camels carved into this wall.

Walking from the Siq into the Treasury

The Treasury (also known as Kazneh) is Petra's most popular site, it was built around the 1st century B.C.

Keegan took this picture - interestingly camels store water in their feet not their humps and according to our guide it used to be complimentary to call your wife a camel.

There was one incredible site after another.

Here's a shot of one of the over 800 carved tombs in Petra as we were walking up to the Monastery.

The Monastery, like the Treasury, was also built sometime during the 1st century B.C. That little object on the bottom is me.

The Monastery, is the largest tomb facade in Petra, measuring 45 meters high and 50 meters wide!

Climbing up to view "the End of the World"

The view of the End of the World

Here's a view up above looking at the Monastery - we walked up from the right side of this picture, you can see the stairs leading to the front of the site.

The rock colors and formations were incredible.

Leaving Petra after a long, fun day!

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Jordan

 

Welcome to Jordan

Author: Keegan

AHLAN WA SAHLAN TO JORDAN!

( Ahlan wa sahlan in Arabic means Welcome)

Our arrival to Jordan started out great because our airline (Turkish Airline) had the BEST airplane food EVER! Wait, can you hear me?? I said it had the BEST airplane food EVER!!! (I highly suggest you to take this airline when/if you ever go to Jordan). So, now we are in Jordan, yes the Middle East, and we have a guide so we don’t have to think about where we are going to go and how we are going to get there! On our first day we went to Jerash, Ajlun and Amman. In Jerash and we had a local tour guide who showed us around.  When you enter Jerash there is a huge arch to welcome Emperor Hadrian that was built in 129 A.D.  It’s a beautiful stone arch – sadly Hadrian died before he came to Jerash so he never got to see the arch they made for him.  While we were there we walked on a street that horse-drawn carriages rode on like a lloooonnngggg time ago and you could see where they rode because they left indents on the street. We also saw a theatre. In the theatre there was a certain spot that echoed so everyone could hear and if you stepped out of the place there would be no echo. The type of stone and how they made the theater was the reason it had that great sound system.  So it was pretty cool!  There were musicians there that played some traditional music for us.  We learned that the theater is still used today for concerts.  What I liked the most were the ruins for a temple specifically for Zeus the King of the Gods.

Hadrian's Arch

This is a picture down one of the main colonnaded streets

Here's one of the indents from the carriages I told you about

Here's the entrance to the temple of Zeus. You walk up the stairs and go a long away again until you hit more stairs, it was a huge temple.

This structure was off one of the main roads - people lived in Jerash over 6500 years ago.

In the amphitheater this musician played for us and then grabbed my dad and started dancing with him...awkward.

Jerash was huge, it seemed like we walked forever.

The columns were amazing. Our guide put a spoon in a crack on the bottom of one of the columns and moved the huge column with his hands. The spoon started moving up and down, they made these columns sturdy enough for very high winds.

We had a great time in Jerash!

We also went to Ajlun, north of Amman, which is a HUGE castle! We were able to explore the castle – it’s amazing how much is still in place after all that time.  The castles are always cool inside because the stones keep the temperature down.  I always wonder how they made these castles way back then.

Inside the Ajlun Castle - it was built in 1184 A.D.

Another shot inside the Ajlun Castle - it was huge and almost everywhere were perfect places to make a movie

One of the great views from the Ajlun Castle - back then it was used to watch for enemy attacks

The hotel we stayed at was in Amman and Amman is Jordan’s capital. We saw ruins at the Citadel and one was the Temple of Hercules built between 162-166 A.D.  We also saw ruins for an amphitheater. It was a full day but it was cool to see all the ancient ruins.  While at the citadel in Amman we ran into a lot of school kids – they were on break from testing in the morning.  Other than the girls wearing headscarves they seemed like anyone you would meet anywhere else.  They actually were really friendly and kept saying “hello, hi” to us. They asked my mom to take a picture of them all together with their cell phone, they were very happy teenage girls and they said they loved the U.S.

Amman, Jordan

Temple of Hercules - much bigger than this picture shows

That's what's left of a hand and elbow from a huge Roman-Greco statue

That's me and Mom running to check out a view of Amman and the ruins from the Amman amphitheater

The Jordan Valley and the ruins of the Amman Amphitheater

Here are some fun facts about Jordan:

1. Did you know that when kids go to school they learn… all at public school

A. The Torah- Jewish

B. The Bible- Christian

C. And the Koran- Muslim

2.  Did you know that Amman is also known as Philadelphia?

Amman means the city of brotherly love.

3. Do you know how Arabic is read and written?

From right to left.  The binding on the magazine in our hotel was on the right.

By for now!

Keegan

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Jordan