Archive | May, 2012

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Aqaba: Jordan’s Red Sea Port

Posted on 22 May 2012 by christie

Al-Sharif Al Hussein Bin Ali Mosque

Al-Sharif Al Hussein Bin Ali Mosque

After a full day driving down scenic King’s Highway, we finally arrived at Aqaba. Its circle-ridden downtown had us dazed and confused for about an hour before locating Al Qidra Hotel. Aqaba was not originally on our radar (thanks Nick!), but we loved it so much we stayed a full week. Aqaba, the furthest point south in Jordan is strategically located on the Red Sea. It borders Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Palestinian territories with Egypt just south across the Red Sea. Interestingly, the popular beach resort town of Eilat, Israel is within clear view. Our downtown hotel location provided the right mix of local culture with easy access to the stunning beaches and snorkeling activities.

The Red Sea at Aqaba, Jordan

The Red Sea at Aqaba, Jordan

Aqaba’s history dates back to the 10th century BC when it deemed the world’s largest copper smelting site. It was later made a key meeting place for pilgrims going to and from Mecca. The port city’s significance grew so much that King Hussein of Jordan bartered a land agreement with Saudi Arabia in 1965. Continue Reading

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Karak & “The Grand Canyon of Jordan”

Posted on 20 May 2012 by christie

Wadi Mujib

Wadi Mujib

After three days in the Madaba region visiting Mt. Nebo, the Dead Sea and the “City of Mosaics“, we began the four hour journey to Aqaba, the southernmost tip of Jordan. The Kings Highway drive offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Jordan, including Wadi Mujib, better known as the “Grand Canyon of Jordan”.

This natural wonder of the world spans 70 km across Jordan from the Dead Sea in the east to the Desert lands in the west, while measuring 1 km deep and 4 km wide. At the first viewpoint before the descent, we experienced some of the most stunning views into the canyon and surrounding landscape. When looking south into the canyon, there is a gorgeous blue lagoon in the distance, next to a huge damn. Along the winding drive through the canyon, a few savvy merchants offer various opportunities to enjoy some tea or buy souvenirs while taking in the scenery. Continue Reading

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Madaba, the “City of Mosaics”

Posted on 18 May 2012 by christie

Mosaic Floor Map

Mosaic Floor Map of "Holy Land"

Madaba, 30 km southwest of the capital Amman, was our first stop in Jordan. During our stay, the Jordanian people greeted us with openness and generosity. People were happy to help with directions, share a story or teach us about their country and traditions. The hospitality we received at the Queen Ayola Hotel was like no other we experienced during our 2012 travels. Well, we can’t forget about the wonderful Shan family at the Queen Inn Hotel in Inle Lake, Burma. Maybe we should start staying at hotels with “Queen” in their name. Our experience these first two days in Jordan really made us excited about traveling throughout the rest of the country.

Madaba City Views

Madaba City Views

The quaint little town of Madaba is known for its Christian Byzantine mosaics dating back to 200 AD when the Romans conquered Jordan. The town Madaba flourished for five centuries until it was devastated by an earthquake. It was abandoned until the late 19th century when the Christians from the south in Karak migrated to Madaba. Soon thereafter they found spectacular mosaics buried beneath the rubble. The discovery included the most famous floor map of the Holy Land found in what is today St. George’s Greek Church. Continue Reading

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A Pilgrimage to Mount Nebo & the Dead Sea

Posted on 17 May 2012 by christie

For religious history buffs Mount Nebo is one of the most sacred places of pilgrimage since B.C. Most importantly it is the place where Moses looked out upon the forbidden promise land of Canaan and here he also died and is thought to be buried. Mount Nebo is an easy 10 km drive west from Mataba, the city of mosaics. The Sanctuary can be visited, including a memorial of Moses, remnants of mosaic floors of the old church as well as a small museum of artifacts. Restoration efforts were underway during our visit.

View from Nebo

View from Mt. Nebo

The summit facing the dead sea overlooking the holy land is one of the most astonishing sights. It’s easy to imagine life during biblical times. The view excited us to spontaneously visit the Dead Sea from the Jordanian side. Next week, we will swim the Dead Sea from the Israeli side after visiting the controversial “capital city” of Jerusalem. The winding desert roads below Mt. Nebo took us through Bedouin villages, abandoned fortresses and villagers herding cattle. We stared and wondered how life can be so simple? Continue Reading

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Jordan’s “Philadelphia Beer” & Philly History Lesson

Posted on 15 May 2012 by christie

Philadephia Beer!

Philadephia Beer!

After a much needed break in the U.S., we are back on the road kicking off our next travel adventures with Jordan. Neither of us have ever been to the Middle East and are excited to start exploring the ancient sights and culture in this historic region. We hopped in our rental car at the airport in Amman, capital of Jordan, and headed 20km south to the small city of Madaba. After checking into Queen Ayola Hotel, we splurged on a much needed Jordanian dinner. While eating our yummy hummus and sipping on the local wine from Mount Nebo, we noticed the table next to us was drinking beer cans labeled “Philadelphia Beer”. We asked the hotel/restaurant owner about “Philadelphia Beer” and he kindly gave us a little history lesson on what Philadelphia means to Jordan. Unfortunately, it sounds like Philadelphia Beer is just an average blonde pale lager. Continue Reading

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