Jordan - Petra closed! And now?

Having an extended weekend in November and didn’t want to leave it unused from traveling. Jordan was a good choice, I thought, in combination with Lebanon.

However, it was probably a good plan but it turned out I'm not supposed to see this historical place Petra. Jordan and in particular the area around Petra experience heavy floods during November and they closed it afterward for clean up. That meant no Petra for me.

Not a big loss for me as I was struggling to go there anyway because it is so busy down there and full of visitors. Also, it's not cheap at all and far away from everything as well. So these floods basically made my decision much easier as I didn’t have to decide whether or not going to Petra within this short amount of time.

So yes, Jordan, in general, has also other things to look at than "just" Petra.

Friday, November 23 - Entering busy Amman

Arrived this early morning in the airport of the capital Amman.
It is about 45 minutes from Amman City Center

The airport is 45 minutes from the city center and big comfortable bus runs every 30 minutes directly from right outside the airport to the "Tabarbour BUS Station" with the fare price of JD 3.5. I thought its no problem to take my hand luggage into the bus, but the bus drivers in Jordan are more security-aware. As I had my hand luggage with me on the bus he informed me:

“The government of Jordan prescribes that luggage must be transported in the trunk of the bus. No worries, its safe,  there are no thieves in Jordan.”

Ok, no problem, I'm fine with that. Happy he was when I brought my small luggage down to the trunk.

Map of Amman:
Sightseeing of the most important sites

As always, the scenery of the first ride after arriving in a new country is interesting. Different streets, buildings, the grade of cleanness, people, and here in Jordan they even have IKEA which somehow looks the same as everywhere, but the sign was written in Arabic language :). Impressive also that the first big building on the way to the city center wasn't a mosque or anything Jordanian, but a huge yellow/blue IKEA :).

On the way from the airport, its the first building

I have traced the route on my phone and when we reached a specific area, which would have been convenient for me to get out, I asked if he can drop me here off at the next intersection. He was not amused:

“No sorry, the government of Jordan only allows busses to stop at designated bus stops.”

I'm glad there was no delay with planes or other circumstances that would have wasted my time here. For getting from A to B, everything was smooth so far. My plan was to fast and purposefully to check-in in the hotel and then start to get my rental car. Although the distances within Amman city center look less bad on google maps than they are in reality. Traffic and streets are difficult! Even though there wasn't that much traffic this Friday morning, the taxi ride from the "Tabarbour BUS Station" to the hotel took a lot of time. Checking was done quickly and after lunch, I went to get the rental car.

Its busy and hectic along the rainbow street

The Grand Husseini Mosque
The mosque is in the middle of downtown Amman, and it is busy throughout the day

Escaping Amman traffic horror

In the Europcar station the agent was confused about why I want to rent a car only for one day and also he informed me thoroughly:

“Sir, I don’t know what you plan to do with the car for only one day, but please be aware you cannot take the car to Syria or Saudi Arabia and you need to sign that here!”

I didn’t plan to do this, but thanks for reminding me! :) In general, I had a sense of those people here, that they are very friendly. They are happy to serve tourists and make it a pleasant stay. Jordanians have an Arabic culture but are highly influenced by western parts. Even I didn’t have discussions with many locals, the few I talked to gave me an impression and compared to locals of many other countries, Jordanians are very gentle and respectful. I hope the mass of tourists in the next dozen years doesn’t change that.

Based on Arabic and Islamic with high western influence

Time to start driving

The city center is complicated and even with google maps, it is difficult to find the right path as the streets are narrow and with many intersections from left and right and ramps that don’t look like ramps but ramp your brain upside down. I picked up the rental car in the city center after lunch and was happy to get out of the hectic center for moving southwards of Jordan.
Steep hills and narrow aisles
Beside the King Abdullah Mosque

Traffic gets better and view opens up

To explore Amman city center itself in "detail", I kept time for it for tomorrow.

Traffic lessens quickly and the view opens up. I pinned some highlights but haven’t the intention to visit all of them. Driving is easy outside of the city center, but many speed controls signs warn of being photographed in case of being an inpatient tourist.

Its getting more relaxed outside the city

My first stop was in and around Madaba. From Mount Nebo with the Moses Church, is a great view over the valley all the way out to the dead sea and over the border to Israel.
Located at the steep hill of Mount Nebo

Reaches far and almost until Israel

Continued to the city of Madaba for fuel up, having a coffee and chocolate cake. In Madaba, I realized that on the planet is an increasing amount of these #-heart-cityname artifacts is visible. In a few years, probably EVERY town has its own #-heart-city sign for social media, no matter how old or small the town is.

Many Ancient palaces and churches in and around Madaba
As a monumentAncient MadabaDeserted landscape with blocks of houses

From there its a kilometers game with many KMs to cope. Very nice to drive and great views over desert villages and valleys.
Outside Madaba

People like to watch to the valleys

Village somewhere around Dhiban

Its getting dark early...

The weather though wasn’t the best, the clouds had a hard time to keep the water back and so the light was barely enough to make proper photos. Also, it didn’t help that its late autumn or early winter and the daylight limited to around 5 pm. I didn’t calculate that factor when I planned and if I did, I probably would have calculated another day more to rent out the car and drive around.

The canyons around the "Mujib Dam"

A few kilometers from the Mujib Dam there is the best area to overlook the Jordan Grand Canyons. The view goes far up until the Mujib Dam and further. There is a small coffee shop where they even sell stones. Not sure what kind of stones and if they are allowed to bring as souvenirs.

Great view to the Mujib Dam
Great view into the Valley Jordan Number plateSteep hills through the dessertThey sell stones Grand Canyon Tea and coffee in JordanSun goes doen early in november

The sun lowered the same speed as the KM-counter hit upwards on the tacho. Only managed to get to the Mujib Dam and then to the next city Kerak, before it was time for “lights out” and return back to Amman. Wanted to be back in Amman by this evening, so I have the full day to explore the city tomorrow.

Farmers sit and observe the sheep herdes
The border between Madaba and KarakThe way goes down to the dam and up again towards Karak

At 5.30pm its pitch black outside!

And that is how it looks on a late November day at 5.30pm in Jordan. Very dark already and had to drive back the 140 kilometers to Amman. The roads and highways in Jordan are dimly lit and driving there in the dark isn't a big pleasure after a rough day without much sleep.

Outside of Amman its almost zero light

Saturday, November - Inside Amman city center

Went up early to cope Amman. I was glad having still my rental car so I was able to drive to the specific sites and monuments that I've pinned. With only walking or public transport, I would have lasted days to cover all. Yes, the few sites are quite spread out all over the city, although even it has just a few sites, the best about Amman are the hills all covered with the same type of houses. Looks fantastic.

Houses are stacked tightly
Densed construction. Buildings have balconies on each floor.Buildings are limited to four stories above street leveland Sandstone

The impressive King Abdullah I Mosque right next to the Jordan Parliament building.
Right beside the Jordan Parliament

The most important "Amman Citadel"

Yes, of course, the most important site is the Amman Citadel. Here is the statue which once is supposed to become the Temple of Hercules. Yes, "that" Hercules. Beside the remains of the temple are even lying the fingers and the elbow of his statue. No one really knows where the rest of him has been dragged to or if they maybe are sold on eBay?

Hercules Hand
Price is around JD 3Citadell is in the middle of AmmanAlso on the hill of the citadelElbow and Fingers and bonesAmman in the backgroundMany come in big groupsNice to watch over the sandstone housesView from the top of the citadelPhotos of visitors in temple of hercules

6000 people in the "Roman Theatre"

Right next to the citadell is the Roman Theatre, just down the hill. The theater is a 6,000-capacity stone amphitheater offering occasional events.

View from the Citadel down to the theater
The roman theather has capacity of 6000 peopleIts right in the middle of AmmanIs right in front of the Roman Theater

On the hill the "Abu Darwish"

Up to the very steep mountain is the Mosque Abu Darwish and its surrounding views over Amman. The mosque is on the other hill than the Citadel-hill and even higher located. From the Citadel, this mosque looks like a TV-Tower. The Roman Theater is right between these two sites. So to get from the Citadel to this mosque, its necessary to drive down the citadel-hill cross through the theater and then drive all the way up to the other hill. Its sounds complicated and it is :).

The mosque is on the highest point of Amman
From far looks like the Amman TV towerHouses of JordanGPS works in Amman, thankfully

Whole Amman at a glance
View over whole city center of Amman

Flying back to Beirut

Even I got up very early time run quickly and in the early afternoon after one of these very affordable low priced lunches, it was time to drive back to the airport for the flight to the next country: LEBANON.

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