We left Egypt on November 2nd, flying on Qatar Air (through Doha) to Amman, Jordan. Thus began our next adventure…
From the international airport outside of Amman, it was an hour taxi ride to our hotel (Arab Tower Hotel) in the old part of the city. Much of this hour was spent waiting in traffic within the city limits. When we finally arrived at the hotel, I could tell I had made a mistake – as my notes say, this hotel was the “pits”. One of the problems was that I had found a hotel matching the name in our Lonely Planet guide book, but when booking through booking.com, only the hotel with a similar name appeared and I thought maybe the name had changed, since the address appeared to be the same (it wasn’t).
After a fitful night, we had breakfast at the hotel, then went for a walk along a busy street. We were up early, so many of the shops were still closed. One of our goals was to find heavy coats for the cold weather we expect in Georgia, our next destination country. Only found a coat for one of us.
We planned on renting a car, but the traffic in this old town part of Amman was not something we looked forward too. We ordered a car from Reliable Car Rental and were surprised when the owner picked us up in front of the hotel and drove us to his office in a part of town with hardly any traffic. Thank you, Reliable.
We drove south to the Dead Sea and the Movenpick Resort & Spa. The drive was basically literally downhill all the way, passing a sign showing sea level and continuing another 400+ meters below. This resort, as with most of the places to stay near the Dead Sea, are overpriced and isolated from the Jordanians. Not our typical place to stay when on vacation, but…
Because we couldn’t actually check in for several hours after we arrived, we dropped our luggage and headed for the “beach” for a float in the Dead Sea. What an experience. If I try to float in any other body of water, my feet sink toward the bottom and only my head and shoulders remain above the surface. Here I floated with my hands and feet above the surface – wow! The water is approximately 30% salt and leaves your skin slimy. If your in the area, it’s definitely worth a stop.
The next morning, we drove south along the Dead Sea on our way to Wadi Rum. The sites along the drive were beautiful. Jordan is a hilly country, with little water and much desert but with just enough amazing glimpses of the Dead Sea to keep it breathtaking.
Jenny had booked us a stay in the desert at Wadi Rum in a Bedouin camp – tent camping, here we come. The camp, Milky Way Camp, was wonderful. The only downside: there was a full moon, so we couldn’t see the real Milky Way. Bad timing, but still a good time was had by all. I was unenthusiastic when the stay was first mentioned, but enjoyed every minute once we arrived. I would do it again for a longer stay and highly recommend it to anyone traveling in that area.
We were picked up in Wadi Rum Village and driven through the desert to the camp in an open pickup truck, hanging on all the way. However, before getting to the camp, we stopped so the boys could sand board on one of the dunes, went to a spring, saw the border between brown-sand desert and white-sand desert, and found a nice spot to watch the sunset.
We finally arrived at the camp and were shown to our tent, a double. Once we were settled in, it was time for dinner in the main tent. First we sat around a fire (in the tent – it was open to the sky in one part), meeting the other guests and drinking tea. The other guests were from Norway, Belgium, Russia and Australia. After tea, we had a buffet dinner. All was great.
Back in our tent, we made ready for an early turn-in. Because the desert gets cold at night, and the tents are not heated, the beds had thick covers that made sleeping easy. Drake had fallen asleep after dinner and I carried him back to the tent, where Pat stayed with him while Jenny, Drew and I were driven back into the desert to look for wolves. None were sighted, but we had a good time and Jenny got to drive the four-wheel Jeep, an experience she said was like driving in snow drifts. Our host made sure to take us into places where Jenny would get stuck.
Next morning, before breakfast, we did some exploring around the rocks behind the camp.
After breakfast, we hiked across the dessert to another rock formation with an arch.
Before noon, we were taken back to our car in Wadi Rum Village. We then drove to Petra, where we spent the afternoon.
From Petra, we decided to make it to Madaba, a town near the Amman airport, where we had an late morning flight. As Jenny was driving, I looked for hotels in Madaba, finally booking the Madaba 1800 Hotel. We got to Madaba after dark and, following the directions on Google Maps, we tried to find our hotel. After circling a few blocks, about 5 times, I was dropped off in front of the hotel, while the rest of the family circled the block again. It was the wrong hotel – the Madaba Hotel, not the Madaba1800 Hotel. A young man, smoking outside the lobby, explained that he had wanted this hotel but was directed (by Google Maps) to the other hotel! We finally made it to the correct hotel just around the corner.
Across the street from the hotel was the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, famous for a 6th century mosaic map on the floor of the church. It was amazing to see and read about the historical significance of this map. It answered many religious and historical questions about the past in this area.
Heading to the airport, we stopped at Mount Nebo, where Moses was said to have seen the “promised land”.
Once at the airport we dropped the car with the rental company and began our next adventure, a flight to Tbilisi, Georgia, with a 5-hour layover in Doha, Qatar.