A Journal, with Pictures

Jordan Revealed

by on Jan.26, 2019, under Happenings

January 13, 2019

We flew from Cairo to the Jordanian capital of Amman which was an extension of the Wendy Pangburn’s (PI) YPO Egypt trip. Twenty-eight of the original group plus a couple who joined us made our group thirty in total experiencing the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We were met by our two excellent Jordanian guides, Zak Salameh and Majdi Saleem. Amman is a clean, more modern city with more orderly traffic than Cairo with one-sixth the population. Our first stop was the Citadel which is at the center of the city on one of the hills upon which Amman was built. The Citadel is important because it has a history of being occupied by many great civilizations. There is evidence from pottery excavated of use during the Neolithic period (12000 years ago). Monuments show the historical names of Amman including Philidelphia. The prominent structures include the Temple of Hercules, a Byzantine church and the Domed Umayyad Palace.

January 13, 2019

We then traveled by bus to our hotel the Kempinski Ishtar Resort on the shore of the Dead Sea. The hotel complex is amazing and we enjoyed a little downtime although the windy cool conditions precluded a float on the famed Dead Sea. We worked out in the hotel gym which shocked our bodies back to reality before of course more cocktails and dinner.

January 14, 2019

After breakfast, we boarded our bus with the first stop being the site on the Jordan river where according to the bible Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The Al-Maghats ruins are located on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River that includes ruins of churches, baptism ponds, as well as pilgrim and hermit dwellings. Thirty yards across the river is Israel and a baptism location which was in use at the time of our visit. There is also a new church on the site for worshipers on the Jordan side of the river.

We then traveled to Mount Nebo the highest point in this part of the ancient kingdom of Moab. In the Bible, Mount Nebo is the mountain where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. This is also the place where Moses died and was buried. The Franciscans have excavated the site and in 1993 completed the Memorial Church of Moses. They have incorporated mosaics from the ancient basilica that occupied the site. There is a cave stone used to close cave dwellings from biblical times on display on the approach to the church.

From Mount Nebo we continued the short distance to the City of Madaba, known as the “mosaice city”. The city is on the site of a very ancient settlement. In 1881 settlers discovered mosaics buried beneath the rubble. The most famous is the unique partial map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. We visited the church prior to having a fun lunch at a Jordanian restaurant.

After lunch, we traveled to the ancient city of Petra and checked into our unique hotel which was originally built by the Bedouins. The next morning we got an unauthorized 5:00 AM wake up call with the call to prayer from the nearby mosque.


January 15, 2019

After breakfast, we visited one of the new Seven Wonders of the world. Petra is a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock faces by the Nabataeans, who settled there more than 2000 years ago. The Nabataeans, prospered taking advantage of the location at an important junction for the silk, spice and key commodities trade routes that linked China, India, and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome. The entrance to the city is through the “Siq” a narrow gorge, which is flanked on either side by soaring cliffs. The Siq has tombs and temples carved on the cliff sides as well as an amphitheater and advanced water control and distribution system. With sea trade supplanting overland transport Petra faded, but it was rediscovered in 1812 and has become Jordan’s number one tourist attraction. The film “The Last Crusade” with Indiana Jones that was filmed in Petra didn’t hurt tourism, but the place exceeds its hype. Petra is truly a wonderful wonder.

Faces of Petra


January 16, 2019

After breakfast, we left Petra and headed south towards Aqaba, a city on the Jordan/Saudi Arabia border location of the world-famous Wadi Rum. It is an amazing desert landscape made up of monolithic rock formations that rise up from the desert floor to heights of 5740 feet. It was made famous by being the place where Prince Faisal Bin Hussein and T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia ) headquartered during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans. This where the movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed as well as the recent film “The Martian”. We explored by four-wheel vehicle and saw the narrow gauge train like the one that Lawrence targeted and viewed the unique landscape. We had tea in a Bedouin tent and lunch cooked in the traditional Bedouin style under the sand.

After lunch, which got a little gritty when a sand storm started, we began our drive back to Amman. The sand storm intensified, then turns into a thunderstorm, then a hail storm and finally as we entered Amman a snow storm. We checked into the Four Seasons and showered the sand out of our hair, had dinner and then after a little weather based uncertainty took four-wheel vehicles to the airport to catch our one AM flight back to the United States through Paris. What an incredible adventure!


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