Sunday, October 05, 2014

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Jordan one more time

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:00 PM
22 years ago I went to Israel for 2 weeks and crossed the border to Jordan for 2 days. This time I did the reversed, Jordan in a week and flew direct to Tel Aviv for a 3 days stay in Israel. I remember the visa worries for the stans trip but this trip was filled with even more anxieties. First the rockets shooting in Israel. Then the Air France pilot strike which kept me checking the flight status online every day. I even researched alternative flights in case the Air France flights were still cancelled. Fortunately to my ultimate relief, the rockets ended and the strike was called off 3 days before my departure.

To my delight, I flew in an Air France double-decker. The plane was huge! I was on the last row on the upper deck. The window seat had a drawer below the window to store things. Very happy to have that extra space. the 3 hrs layover at Charles de Gaulle was pretty much the same as previous times. Same terminal. The flight from CDG to Amman took a longer than normal route to avoid the air strikes in syria. The Airbus 380 went south, cut through the alps which at 35000 ft above on a somewhat cloudy day, still looked spectacular. Between the cotton white clouds and nestled among the hills, i spotted tiny swiss hamlets that reminded me of lauterbrunnen. the sunset just below the adriatic, the dolomites when we cut through venice heading towards athens was sparkling. it was completely dark by the time we went over cairo, past the red sea towards aqaba. saw long narrow lines of lights and multiple bright cities, the night line was probably the jordanian Kings highway.


Arrived in Amman around 9PM and the ride from Queen Alia to the Toledo hotel was pleasant in the evening lights. The evening was brilliant. On the way I've spotted Ikea, Safeway, and the usual McDonalds, Starbuck, KFC and Pizza Hut. English everywhere, even on street signs. It seemed every other car was a mercedes. A single woman driving alone, head uncovered. What liberation! I love rides like this. always enjoyed immensely the first ride from the airport to the hotel in a strange city, taking in the first sights of the new city. And at night, it had a mysterious soothing effect. Amman! I remember the night 22 years ago, the street filled with jewelry shops, we bought roasted water chestnuts from a street stall. The Marriotts had gorgeous rooms and wonderful buffets. This time a local hotel overlooking the King Abbulah I blue domed mosque. King abdullah II picture on the hotel wall. no arrow pointing to Mecca inside the room. 5AM prayers followed by catholic church bell ringing. Jordan!

22 years ago I missed Jerash and I've waited this long to visit the archaeological site. Jerash was on a hill and the drive up in the early morning was refreshing and the air was cool and crisp. The hadrian arch, the south entrance to jerash, was already impressive. the whole complex was not big but the oval forum, surrounded by an intact colonnade, was beautiful, and I could imagine what it was like in the days of Jerash where inhabitants walked daily through this impressive oval plaza. I walked on the cobblestones of the 800m long cardo maximus lined with corinthian columns, with remains of shops and vendors on both sides, thinking how I finally made it here and was very very content. The south amphitheater adjacent to the Zeus temple, could sit 1500. The Artemis temple still had several intact corinthian columns, and they looked reddish and pink in the early morning sun. The north theater was even bigger and could sit up to 3000. The cathedral floor had mosaic depicting animals. The Hippodrome, the Nymphaeum, the baths, the agora, all were still intact. Truly an awesome archaeological site, and the Hippo was very happy to finally made it here.

For the second time the Hippo gazed upon the Promised Land on Mtn Nebo. I imagined Moses standing there looking at the land flowing with milk and honey. We could just barely make out Jerecho and Qunram in the hazy afternoon, both places I've been before. The dead sea was very visible in the hazy late morning. Jerusalem, bethlehem and hebron remained hidden from sight. the jordan river on this side was non existing. parts of the bizantine mosaic floor from the old baptistry was still there. a memorial to John Paul II's visit was a column that looked like the profile of an old man - moses? Moses only gazed upon the promised land, he wasnt allowed into it. and the Hippo was there once and about enter it again.

In the afternoon we visited St George (with a painting of St george slaying the dragon of course) in Madaba, and at first I didnt pay much attention to the mosaic on the floor (she's not much for mosaics) but later after Moe explained the significance of the mosaic map, I understood and became interested, and even bought a map. The mosaic map depicted the river jordan and the holy land. cities of major significance, such as Jerusalem and Jercho, were shown bigger on the map, the more significant the location, the bigger it was on the map. Interesting!

For dinner Moe took us to a local joint and we had pita with humus and various small dishes for dipping, albergines, white bean, cucumber and tomato salad. Followed by the local cake which was baked fresh and prepared in front of us. All this for just $5USD. Very satisfying meal and what an experience to sit at small tables laid out on an alley, surrounded by local jordanians. Excellent way to start a trip.

Jordan photos:


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