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Ancient Petra, “Rose-Red City”

Posted on 27 May 2012 by christie

Petra..Wondering about Prehistoric Times

Petra..Wondering about Prehistoric Times

Our anxious two hour drive from Wadi Rum took us through winding desert mountain roads scattered with bedoiun tents and cattle until we reached our next destination. Petra is one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”. This magical place was originally built more than 2200 years ago and inhabited by the Nabateans who were from ancient Arab tribes. However, evidence suggests the city was inhabited since prehistoric times. Over centuries Petra was ruled by different empires including the Greeks and the Romans. This varying cultural influence is very strong throughout the architecture around Petra. It’s called the “Rose-Red City” for its magnificent uniquely colored limestone cliffs.

The Treasury glowing through the Siq

The Treasury glowing through the Siq

Upon entering Petra, we walked through the Siq, which is a long narrow corridor tucked between enormous 80m high rock cliffs. At every corner and turn we were anxious to see what awaited us at the end of the walkway. Many tourists opt to take camel, horses, donkey or horse drawn carriages so we had to be careful not to be trampled by them trotting along.

After zig-zagging 1.5 km through the Siq, the sun radiates at the end of the walkway. We could see a glimpse of the glorious Treasury beaming through the narrow gorge. At the end of the Siq lies the Treasury, which served as a tomb for an ancient king in 100 BC. It was named the Treasury for its fable that an Egyptian pharaoh hid his treasures there. Continue Reading

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Wadi Rum: “The Valley of the Moon”

Posted on 25 May 2012 by brett

Sand Dune Jumping

Sand Dune Jumping

Wadi Rum is one of those places where you lose yourself in the endless maze of sandy desert ground surrounded by enormous rocky mountains and steep cliffs. We learned that the valley was once under sea water, which stimulated the imagination for hours. It’s now a virgin desert virtually untouched by man. We spent hours driving around in a 4×4 with our guide and hardly saw a soul…… besides the occasional Bedoiun living in their tent. The serene feeling we had while listening to the sand blowing in the wind and hollow echoes, is like no other in the world. Our Bedouin hosts seemed un-phased by the desert after several generations wandering around nothingness. They probably think tourists are crazy for paying 65 JOD ($90) to tour around and camp out in the sweltering heat.

Alan & Nicola

Alan & Nicola

Our drive 60 km east from Aqaba brought us to “The Valley of the Moon”, beginning our journey into the desert. There is evidence that Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many cultures since prehistoric times. Ancient rock carvings and paintings, and structural remains have been discovered throughout the desert. Currently the only inhabitants of the desert are local Bedoiun tribes who are prospering from the tourist boom.  Continue Reading

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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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