What To Do In Jordan| What To See In Jordan| Female Travel Jordan | Europe to Africa Road Trip
Welcome to episode eight. Woohoo! And on today's episode, we are going to the beautiful country of Jordan. We will be going to Amman, Petra, Jerash, the Dead Sea and the Jordan value Valley. Sorry, not value Valley! So far we have covered 5300 miles of my 30,000 mile road trip from Paris to Cape Town, and then back up to Nairobi. And Jordan is our country number seven on this trip. Okay, and then my review for the week is from DeIris and it's five stars.
She says "Fascinating. I've always been marveled by those who have traveled the world so many great stories to share. Glad I found this podcast." Thank you very much Delris I'm glad you found me too.
Just wanted to let you all know the website is coming along so you can always get more info over there at Manyroadstravelled.com as well as if you'd like to buy me a coffee or a beer, you can do that too and support the podcast so I can keep it ad free as long as possible. Okay, now let's crack on with Jordan. So we've been on the road almost seven weeks, I think this is day 45. And we had, so we is my friend Casey.
So he's the guy that I left with and we travelled together for a few months before he bailed on me. More on that later. So yeah, it's day 45 we got into Amman from Damascus and we got to Amman, the capital of Jordan, at night. We just had some very long few days and I also had a not very nice taxi ride from Syria to Jordan with my taxi driver who let's just say had very sleazy wandering hands and I was in the front seat. Anyhow, so we got to Amman that night, and decided to splash out on a $15 night posh hotel, which actually had a shower and a bathroom! Showers were a very rare commodity for us. Just to recap, if you're new, & this is your first episode you've listened to I would suggest starting from the first episode, The Intro ep to get the backstory.
So you can come along the whole trip with me. Yeah, showers. I think I averaged about 3 every day, at the most.
Okay, so the next morning we woke up. And of course, it's Friday & in Muslim countries Fridays are like their holidays like our Sundays, Christian Sundays. So of course, the banks are closed, because remember, this is back in 1993. March '93, three, and there was, you know, no internet, no digital cameras and definitely no ATMs, back then. So you have the banks or the post offices that usually change money but on Fridays, like I said, in Muslim countries they are closed.
So as we're looking for another place we could change money, we met this really nice Jordanian man called Ahmed. And he said, "Okay, I'll help you to change money." We're like, awesome. So it is 1.20 Jordan dinars back then to $1 American dollar. And now it's 1.4 Jordan dinars to $1 US. Okay, just so you have a rough idea, so it hasn't changed too much in like 27 years.
so that's a bit crazy. So we got our money & Ahmad suggested to us, "Well, why don't I take you on a day tour? We can go to the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo, Bethany beyond the Jordan and some Hot Springs. We're like, that sounds awesome.
And he's only gonna charge us 20 Jordan dinars, I will just call them JD from now on, which is super. "Okay, cool." So we headed out to the Dead Sea, which is about 45 minutes from Amman. And wow, so literally, we're at the lowest point of our trip. lol Because the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth.
It's about 431 meters below sea level and it's 34% salinity and the Jordan River like ends in the Dead Sea. So the river water basically evaporates and just leaves behind lots of salt and minerals. So hence why the Dead Sea is so salini? lol It high as a high salinity rate. And then also, of course, the dead sea mud is like infamous around the world because of this rich content of minerals. So when you walk around, there's like just buckets of mud, kind of all around that area. So you just slather yourself up and kind of bake out in the sun and let that dry and then you go in the water.
Well, of course, I gave myself the challenge to see if I could put my head under the water like actually, you know, dive down. Okay, do not, do not do that!! Oh my gosh, my eyes burned. Obviously I had them closed but it didn't matter and you can't do it anyway.
You're literally I mean, you could sit reading a newspaper lying flat out, it's like you're on an air mattress. That's how high up above you are. It's amazing! I just remember thinking this is so cool.
And of course, the Dead Sea, in the middle of the dead sea is half Israeli and half of it's Jordanian. So you can see Israel right there too. Yeah, so we spent a couple, probably about an hour or so there.
It was a very cool feeling. And then you have a shower afterwards, try and wash off all of the salt, which I probably washed off half because it sticks to you man. And I'm not sure how we found out about it but we decided so we asked Ahmed, we're like, 'Can we go to Jerash instead of Mount Nebo?' he said, "Sure, whatever you like." But we did pass Mount Nebo as it was very close by it's like 15 minutes or something like that. But that is where Moses looked out to the Promised Land.
So the story goes, and you can see Jericho and Jerusalem and Jerash from from this mountaintop. If you wanted to go now it's only 1 JD, and that's also where Bethany beyond the Jordan is. That is where apparently John the Baptist baptized Jesus so if you wanted to go to these days it's 12 JD. We'd rather go to Jerahsh, so we did pass through, it's an hour drive from the Dead Sea to Jerash.
We did drive to the Jordan Valley and we did stop and I took a photo for my great grandmother, my Nana cuz her last name is Jordan. So I remember going "Okay Nana this one's for you... of the Jordan Valley. It's beautiful. Anyway, so we got to Jerash, like no idea what to expect again. You know, before you could Google and research stuff, but like when we went, we just didn't have a clue. It was a bit like Syria...no idea what to expect.
But I quite like that cuz it's you kind of have no expectations. So it's much harder to be disappointed when you have no expectations rather than, you know, when you have high expectations. It's like when someone says, you know, Oh, you got to see this movie. It's brilliant.
You just hear that over and over then you watch it & say it was Yeah, okay. Anyway, so we got to Jerash. And Jerash is apparently one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world! They found evidence that Neolithic, from the Neolithic era, so that was 7500 BC, that's what 10,000 years ago, people lived there?! That's crazy. But the old town, the ruins of Jerash are in the middle of the actual town Jerash. And it was only discovered about 130 ish years ago.
And they reckon still a lot of it is still buried under modern day Jerash, and it's now part of a UNESCO, I think it's part of it. Yeah, I think it might be part of UNESCO. Not hundred percent sure. But I think so. Well, it it was incredible.
It's a whole ancient Roman city, that is pretty much intact. And the Romans took it over in 64 BC, like conquested that area, and that's when they they built this the town Jerash, the ancient town and it was a very, very popular place because it was on, big trading routes between Arabia, Damascus and Cairo. And yeah, so it was a very famous city back then. And then I guess in the 12th, 13th century it kind of, the old part of it, got abandoned and that's when it got buried through the centuries. So when you get there, you come up too, it's called the Hadrian's Arch. And that's the entrance, I think it's the South Gate entrance.
And it I mean, just that is beautiful. It's huge. And then you come in and then you walk up, then there's there's the Hippodrome,, which used to be able to seat 15,000 people. So it's this huge amphitheater. And then you come along to the south gate, and then you have to, there's a guy there and he opens the gate for you. They didn't have that in my time.
I just looked it up now, and that's what's there. But they might have but I just don't remember. Then you come to The Forum, which is an oval shaped Plaza, which is lined with many columns.
And then from there, you can either go left or you go right, and we ended up going left and then we walked around the whole complex. This is really big, actually, you'd probably need three to four hours there. So walk around the whole complex and then we climbed up to Zeus's temple, which is mostly destroyed, but the views are amazing of the whole old Jerash city.
It's just crazy. Because you have all the new Jerash right around it, it's literally in the middle of the New City. And then you come along to the South Theater and that used to be able to seat 2000 people and it's just amazing how intact it is. When you're at the South Theater you could go to, so there's I don't know about a 3 or four feet circumference in the middle of the bottom of the theater (the stage) where they used to perform and the acoustics are amazing. Like you can actually hear the difference from when you try to shout or talk or sing or whatever, and then you step three feet to the side.
The amplification of the acoustics in the very center still works. It's like having a microphone, it's crazy. It's like 2000 years old and it's still perfect. And then you come out of the South Theater & you go to the the main street which is called Cardo Maximus, which is the main street and and that's all lined with columns and really beautiful architecture and designs. And you can even still see the chariot ruts in the the stones on the street. So you are just walking along where these Roman chariots rode and gladiators and ya, it was crazy.
And like, I mean, I thought the Acropolis was pretty amazing because it is, butJerash is like 100 times bigger and more amazing because it is literally the Old City preserved almost perfectly. And it's about the same age. And I never heard of it. I mean, even now, I've hardly ever heard of other people talking about Jerash, Jordan. So back then it was definitely a little hidden secret and we were the only ones, me & Casey were there, in the whole place! Love that. Then we're walking along the main street, Cardo Maximus, and there's also the cathedral, & that was their water fountain.
I stumbled across this this bath, which apparently was one of the Queen's baths. So of course I got in & took a picture. And then there's also the Artemis temple, which is that again, is surrounded by these tall Corinthian columns. 11 of the 12 columns are still standing. And there's also a prison there with underground passages, like I say, it's the whole city and you can even see their sewage system, it was pretty incredible. So yeah, we stayed there about three hours.
And then on the way home, Ahmad asked us, if we would like to come to his family's house for dinner. So of course we said yes, free food of course. So yes, we went there and it was just outside of Amman.
His family was very, very nice and we're sitting on the floor. Muslims & in India actually as well. You sit on the floor and eat, so they have a special kind of rug ish kind of thing spread out and then all the food goes down on the floor and it's communal eating which is great. I love it, you eat with your hands and away you go. So we're chatting with the kids and waiting for it. I guess this really super nice, special meal that because we're a guest in their home that the mother has cooked.
So she comes out with this massive platter and it was a goat's head with the eyeballs and fur still on & the top of its head had been cut off. Inside was rice and the brains in cooked in the goats intestines inside the goats head - roasted. Now I haven't eaten red meat since I was 19. So at that point it was four years I hadn't even red meat.
But I knew that this is a really big honor. I was like, Oh my god, I have to try that?! But I have to try this because it's really rude not to I mean, she's gone to all of this effort. And I can't you know, they didn't speak much english, Ahmed did but it's just rude to just refuse food, right. So I took a teaspoon, like literally a teaspoon of course and also another thing is they will wait for you to eat first. They won't eat.
Everyone's watching you as well. So I took this little teaspoon of rice, brains and intestines from the goats and the goat, he's still staring at me. Yeah, ate it.
And that was it. One teaspoon was enough for me. Casey loved it. He dug right in. Luckily, she had some cheese and bread & these really nice like honey, honeycomb dessert things. Well, we had a lovely time.
And that was the first and only time I've ever been given a goat's head for dinner, for sure. So we got back to Amman. We did change hotels to a cheaper one because 15 bucks was way too much. So found one half the price. Day 46, so day two in Jordan.
We decided to head out to Petra, and that was only about two JD just going via public minibus to get out there. It was bout three and a half hours they dropped us off at this cheap hotel. So we threw our bags in, it was about 2:45pm and we decided let's just try and get to Petra today because we are so close to Africa! It's been almost 7 weeks & we just so wanted to get to Africa! So we hitched back into the city center. Decided okay well they offered horses & you can go to see Petra on horses. We're like okay that will be faster than walking because I can't remember what time it closed back then, maybe 5pm? Because it was in the winter so in the daytime sorry the summertime they stay open later. So we get these horses I and it was only like 1 JD to go to Petra.
And it was 4.5 JD each for a horse, like a horse each. So I had this rugged white little horse, he was friendly. So we get going and then of course, the owners walk the horse in front of you. Like Okay, this is great. This is not gonna be any faster, but it was kind of cool. So it's about half a kilometer to the siq from where we got the horses, and then the siq is a kilometer to the opening.
A siq is a narrow, very narrow gorge between the mountains. And it kind of you know, goes around corners and stuff like that. So yeah, it feels like you're walking into a mountain pretty much and for a kilometer, so it's quite aways. So if you're claustrophobic it's not too bad like there's wider parts, but there are some pretty narrow parts.
Anyways, you finally come to the entrance and get ready to have your mind blown. Because that's where the infamous, when you think of Petra, this is what you think of, the Treasury. And it's this 40 meter like half carved in half built in the mountain, so reddish mountains.
Oh my god, it's so crazily beautiful. You're just like, what? And again it's 2000 years old, and I just thought I was on a movie set. It just didn't seem real at all.
And funnily enough, this is where if you've seen Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom. Well, that was the Temple of Doom. So when they're riding on horseback and halt in front of the opening that is Petra, the Treasury. Wow! Yeah, it was amazing! Then we went inside, and it was very cavernous and dark and but there was, pretty sure there's paintings on the wall and old pottery that they put there.
And there's another door that went further back, but that was like locked to the public. And then we go back on a horse and when you go around the right side, through the siq and then you by the end of the siq, it literally just opens up into this really, really big Valley. And, literally, I think that's what's called Little Petra.
Well, it's a whole village carved out of the mountains, the sandstone mountains, like a whole village. I just kept remember thinking, everything how did they do this like 2000 years ago? What tools did they have? It's really mind blowing. And then also around the Treasury, there's also tombs all kind of all around or around it really. And then there's also it's called the Street Facade, and that that's where the royal tombs were. So it's where the Royals were buried. But Wow.
Also you can go up to, it's called Khuktai trail. So, there's two places like there's one trail that they'll like the guides and things will try and take you but don't try go there. Go up Khuktai trail so you go up hundreds and hundreds of steps, so it's a good workout too. But the view is amazing, because you're looking down on the Treasury.
So you have a bird's eye view, be very careful, there's no guardrails or anything like that. But if you want, great photos or just amazing bird's eye view definitely go up there, which we did that too. And then but it was like getting close to closed. So we get back on down and get back on our horses.
And we kind of, I was ahead of Casey and then we you know, remember we still have the owners walking us through holding the reins. Well we got almost through the siq, my horse obviously was like okay, that's a wrap, my day is done and he just took off! So then I felt like Indiana Jones cuz I was pulling back on the reins as hard as I could. He was having none of it. So we are literally galloping. And there is a lot of people around. We're still in the last bit of the Siq.
I'm just yelling, "Get out of the way!" There's horses with carts and everything. My horse just had a mind of his own, and he was,we're just galloping away. We came to one point where he had to stop because there was a hourse and cart in front of him. So he stopped, got passed it and took off again. Casey was trying to catch me but his horse would not go above a trot.
A bit of a walk, trot, walk. So I was like, way, way ahead of him before they got to the horses pasture, where we rented the horses and he just skidded on the brakes. It's like, okay, boom, dinnertime.
Of course the guy, he's kind of started having to go at me. I'm like, dude, I was trying to pull the reins as hard as I possibly can. But he knew his, you know, his shift was over. It was an incredible feeling, had the wind through my hair.
And honestly, I felt like I was Indiana Jones. So finally, Casey, got there, joined me and we went back to our hotel because we really hadn't even seen it yet. It was more like a hostel that was probably the first hostel we'd stayed in this whole trip because it's the first one we we found because we didn't have a guidebook for Europe or Middle East so we just stayed wherever we could find. Oh, it was so nice because there were other travelers there! Again, we hadn't met any other travelers since Marmaris, Turkey, which is probably like, almost a month.
Definitely four weeks prior. So there's a bunch of Kiwis there & Canadians. There was lots of people. It was just so nice because then Casey & I could finally get a break from each other & just chat to other people. We had dinner there, it was lovely.
Really nice. So on day 47 we decided, Okay, we're gonna get up at six in the morning, because we wanted to get to Aquaba Jordan. And we were on a minibus by 645am. It took a few hours to get there. And then we went to the Egyptian embassy to get our Egyptian visa.
We were a little bit concerned because we met this Canadian guy the night before at the hostel, and he said, "Oh, it's 80 bucks Canadian for an Egyptian visa", but he had bought it in the UK. So Casey and I were just a little bit worried because it was $80 bucks. Anyways got to the Egyptian embassy about 9am by 10am we left with smiles on our faces because it only cost us $22 bucks each. So that was a little bargain, and we managed to get to the port, get through customs and get on the 12 o'clock noon ferry to Nuweiba Egypt. Yes, that's right Africa. However, you're going to have to stayed till next Thursday's episode to hear about Sinai Egypt & that we finally finally made it after almost seven weeks.
And now it's time for Tam's Top Tips for Jordan would be nowadays, obviously with COVID. I had a look today. So today is September 2,2020 and yeah, Jordan is closed to outside people, however the sites are open if you live in Jordan, then you can go see the sites in Jordan now. Anyway, so for tip #1 for Jordan would be nowadays, like whenever COVID ever ends, then I would definitely recommend getting it's called a Jordan pass. And that gets your visa and price to see 40 different attractions including Petra, The Dead Sea, Jerash for 70 JD.
Which is a bargain, because nowadays, it's 40 JD just for a Jordan visa, and then it's 50 JD to go to Petra, 20 JD to go to the Dead Sea & 12 JD to see Jerash. You can also get ,if you wanted to go to Bethany beyond the Jordan, you can also tick a little box and you can get that for 8 JD instead of 12. So you'd save a lot of money. And how it works is you just go to the official website so Google Jordan Pass and you have one year once you buy it, then you have one year to use it up.
And then once you arrive in Jordan, you have two weeks to see everything basically, which is plenty of time. We were there for two days and saw a lot. So that would be tip #1.
Tip # 2, they now have at Petra, you could do, I mean i'm not a fan of tours, but sometimes you have to take a tour because that's the only way you can experience things or see things sometimes. So they have these tours which are Monday, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8:30pm and it's two hours but you go at nighttime and they put like 1500 candles all around the Treasury which would be so cool to see actually, especially on a starry night. They also play music and you get to walk around and yeah, so I would check that out. Because that would be pretty cool to see.
And then tip #3, we were there during Ramadan. So Ramadan is a month long. It's like the biggest Muslim holiday I guess it's like they fast and so it's about a month.
It's usually I think in February or March it changes every year, depends on the moon. So be aware that not only are things closed at normal time, like Fridays, like banks and government offices, stuff like that, but also during Ramadan they fast from I think it's five in the morning to 6pm. So they're out we'll be we're in the Middle East, the whole month of Ramadan, and you can still find restaurants and can eat, but just be aware that they're not eating, so they have their breakfast at 6pm. Okay, also if you did want to go to Israel, because it's right there especially from The Dead Sea, it's right there.
Then I would definitely advise getting the Israeli stamp on a separate piece of paper not attached to your passport because if you have that you will not be allowed into most Muslim countries. So I would definitely do that. And then for female travelers, I felt very safe there. Dress appropriately, so except obviously the Dead Sea. It's fine in your bikini & bathing suits, obviously.
But yeah, just kind of again t shirts, shorts like longer shorts and skirts are fine. I just absolutely loved Jordan. Like I said, I didn't know what to expect.
I was super pleasantly surprised. And it's, I was just amazed that how I'd never even heard of Jerash, like everyone has heard about the Acropolis, but I don't even know if I even heard of Petra like I'd seen Indiana Jones obviously, but I never knew that's where it was until I think we were on that trip. But yeah Jerash is incredible. So I would definitely highly recommend going to Jordan once you can.
Okay, well I think that is a wrap and like I said make sure you tune in next Thursday when we actually finally hit Africa. Okay, and like I said before head over to the website. There's gonna be lots of stuff on there. Like more details about wherever I've been now like on this trip like more updated advice and travel tips and stuff like that, prices and stuff like that.
So head on over there manyroadstravelled.com and make sure you leave your reviews too, so I can give you a shout out. Okay, until next time, safe travels...one road at a time.