For those of you who are ready to explore a destination unlike any other in the world, I welcome you to Jordan. I have been home just 2 weeks and still cannot stop telling people about this extraordinary country that exceeded every one of my expectations during my visit.
Jordan is a country located on the east bank of the River Jordan. Almost half of Jordan is covered by the Arabian Desert. It is a country covering an area of 35,637 square miles, comparable to the size of Indiana. Jordan offers a diverse terrain and landscape usually found only in larger countries.
Our host, the Jordan Tourism Board, met us at the airport. While they were processing our Visas, we easily checked in with friends and families at home thanks to the WIFI at the Amman airport. Once outside, we were escorted to our lavish tour bus, equipped comfortable seating, WIFI, and TV channels at our fingertips.
On our first full day we visited Jerash, located about 45 kilometers from Amman, and considered to be one of the largest and most well-preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside Italy. Their state of preservation is absolutely remarkable.
Wine making in Jordan? Yes indeed! And that is where we went that evening, In Amman, the place to go is The Winemaker, a boutique wine tasting venue that carries the international award-winning St. George wines. The winemaker himself is Oscar Zumot, who pioneered the modern era of winemaking in Jordan. Our wonderful evening of wine tasting was paired with a delicious Jordanian dinner.
The Baptism of Jesus
Next day we headed south to the Eastern Banks of The River Jordan, known as Bethany-Beyond –the -Jordan. The baptism of Jesus, by John the Baptist, most likely took place on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River. Pope Francis visited Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan in May 24, 2014 . “The place where we are meeting commemorates Jesus’ baptism,” the pope told an assembly at the Church of the Baptism of Jesus (of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem). “Coming here to the Jordan to be baptized by John, Jesus showed his humility and his participation in our human condition.”
We then drove a short distance to Mt. Nebo. After 40 years leading the Israelites in the desert, Moses stood on the summit of Mount Nebo and viewed the Promised Land of Canaan — after having been told by God “you shall not cross over there”.
We were very fortunate to have a clear day, and saw the panoramic view seen by Moses : The Dead Sea, the Jordan River valley, Jericho, Bethlehem and the distant hills of Jerusalem.n.
Petra and Wadi Rum
We then continued south to the “Lost City” of Petra. Literally carved straight into red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, the prehistoric Jordanian city of Petra was “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years.
Located among-st rugged desert canyons and mountains in what is now the southwestern corner of Jordan , Petra was once a flourishing trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106. The city sat empty and in near ruin for centuries. Not until the early 1800s did a European traveler disguise himself in Bedouin costume and penetrate the mysterious locale.
In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in 2007 it was named one of the new seven wonders of the world. Words can not describe this amazing “rose red city” , so I hope my pictures help.
The following day we went to Wadi Rum, a protected area covering 720 square kilometers of dramatic desert wilderness in the south of Jordan. Our scheduled 2 hour jeep tour was cut a little short because of upcoming sand storm, but so much fun none the less as we waited for it to pass in tent. While inside we were served delicious tea and explained and demonstrated the different scarf garments by extremely hospitable Bedouins. After a traditional Jordanian lunch, camel ride time, where Lawrence of Arabia once frequented. Wadi Rum attracts more and more adventure seekers, offering some of the finest rock climbing in the world and is a spectacular place for desert trekking and safaris (camels, horses and vehicles)
The Dead Sea
Last day, getting down and dirty in the Dead Sea. Here are a few things I learned about the Dead Sea:
- Dead Sea is neither dead nor a sea. It’s actually a lake sandwiched between Israel and Jordan.
- The Dead Sea’s salinity averages between 33.7 to 35 per cent — nearly ten times higher than the norm, making it one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world.
- The lowest point on dry land, located 423 metres below sea level.
- The sea’s main source of water comes from the Jordan River and receives very little rainfall.
- The water’s saltiness makes it denser than the human body allowing everyone to float no matter what your body type.
- It’s said that the salty waters and mineral-mud work wonders for people with skin conditions or sore joints.
- Aristotle, the Queen of Sheba, King Solomon and Cleopatra were all familiar with the healing properties of Dead Sea water and mud. King Herod & King David both used the Dead Sea as a spa and retreat
After I floated in the Dead Sea for 15 minutes it was time to test the famous Dead Sea mud. The staff at the Mövenpick Dead Sea Resort & Resort caked on layers of the thick mud and told me to wait 20 minutes before rinsing off and the offering me plush towels.
I was sad to leave, and I would love to go back as there are many things to still explore. Who would like to join me?