After spending what felt like 24 hours traveling — 3 hours at JFK, 11 hour flight to Cairo, 4 hour layover in Cairo, then 1.5 hour flight to Amman, we pulled into our hotel last night around 8:30 p.m. local time. Yeah — travel really is all glamour!
January 14, 2011
Jordan, January 7, 2011
We got up early and started our first day in Jordan with a trip to the Citadel, located roughly in the center of town. Amman is not an ancient city, our guide tells us many times that it was mostly farm land up until about 40 years ago and its been growing exponentially ever since. The current population of Jordan is about 6,000,000, half of those live in Amman. But, people have lived in the surrounding area for thousands of years. The citadel is a walled fortress that contains enough ruins to keep archeologists busy for decades. Perched high on a hill is Hercules Temple. Mostly dismantled (the stones were used for other building projects) but nonetheless stunning.
We visited the charming little museum built by the British during their “mandate” which was 1919-1946 (I’m not sure what the difference is between a mandate and an occupation). Among the many ancient pots, sculptures, and jewelry were some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. All of the labels are still the originals typed on a manual typewriter with clearly corrected mistakes. It doesn’t look like anything has changed in the museum since 1946.
In town, we visited a Roman amphitheater, as the Romans were in charge here after the Persians, from about 660 BC to 63 BC. Our guide tells us some of the best Roman ruins in the world are in Jordan — tomorrow he’s taking us to the Pompeii of the Arab world. Just 30 or so years ago the amphitheater was surrounded by farms, in fact they were farming right in the floor. It holds 6,000 people and is currently used as a theater several times a year. The stage had to be rebuilt and some of the seats after the big earthquake of 1927, but it’s amazing how in tact it is.
We walked through the Souk, or market, which was bustling. Friday is the sabbath day here so many of the shops were closed but the produce market was busy.
Then we headed to the Dead Sea for lunch and a swim. We were able to look across the lake and see Jerusalem and Jericho. Driving through what has traditionally been a very fertile valley, we saw fields covered with banana trees, tomatoes, corn, sheep, a few camels, horses, burros and a lot of families have roadside picnics. Water is in short supply so this once abundant breadbasket is in trouble.
Our last stop was at the Holy Land sweet shop. We had a not-so-sweet delicacy of goat cheese, honey, shredded wheat and pistachios. Yummy!