The tour started that morning, and having had no sleep in the previous 20 hours we had no choice, we just had to put a smile on and go with it, at least we were moving away from the airport.
1st stop was Jerash and we drove for an hour before we saw the very impressive gate. I was exhausted and not really impressed that we had driven so far to see an archway (clearly no research done by me for this trip). As you approach you can only see Hadrian's Gate which is impressive but you would have no clue of the city that lies beyond the archway. I would have to say, it surpassed anything I had seen in Rome. Street upon street of amphitheaters, temples, and just to manage your expectations, there are ruins of a Greco-Roman city. But you can walk the roads between the buildings and what remains of these vast structures. It is the best preserved Greco-Roman city that I have experienced. The non-archaeological terms I can think of to describe this place is jaw dropping. I do love a bit of history like most people and not wishing to cause controversy with those who have seen the Vatican museum (death by Roman artifact!) Jerash in my opinion surpasses it ten fold. Truly, make an effort to go see this place in your lifetime, even if you don’t like history you cant help but admire this location. Walking through it you get a true sense of the vastness of the empire that created it an the people who once lived here. It covers a vast area with plenty of temples, theaters, and colonnaded streets. It is possible to imagine the original inhabitants going about their business from going to temples to making plans for the evening, “Hey Augustus any idea what’s playing in the North Theatre tonight?” “No” says Claudius “but you couldn’t pay me to do a repeat viewing of that crap in the Amphitheater last week".
Having arrived at 9 am, we had a few hours to explore before we were brought for lunch. The area is quite poor by western standards, but I have to say, the more I travel the more I am questioning our western standards where everyone is judged by what they have. Many people don’t have a lot here but they do seem happy.
Anyhow, we drive through the streets heading out of the village and up a winding road to a very plush hotel at the top. Its dining hall was huge and it was clear this was set up for tourists. The hall could have held about 200 people, and I would image pre covid it did hold that many people. It was a buffet lunch, as that was the norm. It was a collection of salads and curry dishes. I really was not impressed and perhaps in hindsight I should have been more appreciative. I felt it was a bit pricey but having just arrived in Jordan I still didn’t have a feel for the currency. It was overpriced as I discovered later but it was the cleanest and best place to eat in town, so I was happy to take the hit. There was an elderly French couple sitting at the next table and they must have complained because I heard the tour guide say “You think 16 JOD (1 JOD = 1.24 EUR, as of time of writing) is expensive for this?” eyebrows raised and an incredulous look on his face “You get a starter and a main course, what would you pay for this in your country?”, the French lady quietly conceded. If I had a choice I would not have eaten here, but as stated earlier I think it was the best place in town and I also think everything there would have been better pre covid. The local police did come in for their lunch and were treated with due deference. They sat at the other end of the restaurant and did not receive the buffet food. Perhaps it was just too bland for them but perfect for us unadventurous Europeans.
Lunch complete, we joined our guide and headed to Ajloun Castle. It is a fortified castle on the top of a mountain built in 1184. So for the Irish contingent imagine Bunratty castle but bigger and its at the top of the Macgillycuddy Reeks. I’m fading fast now as we haven’t slept in more than 24 hours (here is why: http://golfers.ie/blog/jordan-the-devil-is-in-the-detail). The castle at this time held no appeal for me and I certainly couldn’t walk one more step. Rather than disappoint our driver I walked up the hill to the entrance and having gotten inside the building I found a window sill to sit on and admire the view, that was high enough for me. I sent Róisín on a scouting mission to go forth and bring back pictures...nevermind, she was going anyway. There were a number of floors and from the photo evidence I saw the view was impressive.
We headed back to Amman at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, at this time of year it gets dark around 4.45 pm. We were outside our beautiful hotel Toledo in Amman and it was stunning. Our lovely guide helped us in with our bags and ensured we had checked in at reception and instructed porters to take our bags to our room. The hotel was beautiful and the staff very helpful. We ordered room service and after eating we had lights out by 8 pm, I have rarely been so happy to sleep and sleep we did until 6 am the next morning. We had our breakfast and was on the road to Petra at 7 am.
Hi, I'm Olive and I am the writer of this blog. I am traveling the world with my 22 year old daughter, Róisín, who has just graduated University. I wanted to document this journey because it is unusual for a woman of 58 years old to go on adventure that most students do on a gap year. I will try to share my insights into this epic journey with you along the way and maybe inspire more people my age to go on these crazy adventures too.