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mistybleu Wadi Musa - A travel report by Amanda
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Wadi Musa,  Jordan - flag Jordan
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mistybleu's travel reports

Petra - a new seven wonder of the world

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Wadi Musa is the kind of place that you have never heard of until you use a search engine to book accommodation in Petra. The town has grown to cater for the demand of visitors, so if you want to stay overnight, then you will need to book a hotel there.

The Monastery
The Monastery
It is always difficult to write a report about one single place when you travel around a country. As each area has its special part for different reasons; so this report is more about Jordan as a whole, covering off the highlights and major areas - the well trodden tourists spots that I visited.

Amman - the capital city is home to the main airport which is around a 45 minute drive to downtown. Downtown is the older part of the city but from here you can travel the length and breath of the country. I say breath but Jordan is mostly inhabited lengthways as the country follows the river Jordan.

During the evening I suggest heading to Rainbow Street where there are many shops, restaurants and cafes. Over the last few years there has been major investment into the downtown area such as widening the pavements, installing street lighting etc to ensure that it is a more tourist friendly city. It has worked as whilst you still have the Jordanian charm I felt safe being out late in the evening.

I think the best way to travel around is using the local bus service. I preferred the tourist bus, for a few more JDs you can travel in comfort with air-conditioning. It costs 5JD to get to Petra by bus and takes approx 4hrs. We were told if you say you want to go to Wadi Musa they will charge you cheaper even though essentially you are going to the same place.

From there I continued my journey south and headed to Wadi Rum. I think every visit to Jordan should stop here, as the desert experience is not to be missed.

Or continue to Aqaba - famed in the Lawrence of Arabia film. It is Jordan’s only access to the Red Sea and is a large coastal town which caters to the cruise ship industry. About 12kms further is the perfect beach resort.

Then return to Amman (cost 7JD) on the bus for a 4/5 hour journey up the desert highway.

Favourite spots:
The Bridge
The Bridge
A great experience is to spend the night in the desert in Wadi Rum, hosted by Bedouins; sleeping in a tent in one of 25 campsites. The area is protected and it costs around JD7 to enter. The day is spent exploring the many rock formations, chasms, waterfalls etc by 4x4 and then the evening around the campfire for local sweets and sweet hot mint tea. Followed by a traditional chicken stew with rice and salad. Then if you are lucky they will play music, sing and dance so that you get a feel for the Arabian/Jordanian culture.

Then when everyone goes to bed, it is time to start stargazing and watch the moon rise. If you are lucky, I mean very lucky you can also see a meteor shower or a shooting star. Now that’s what makes a great evenings.

What's really great:
The Siq revealing the Treasury
The Siq revealing the Treasury
We got the 6.30 bus from Amman which only cost JD8.50 to Petra arriving early. But chose to go to the hotel check in and have some lunch before venturing into the valley. The bus stops in the car park just above the main entrance and whilst there are many taxis around it is better just to follow the crowds and walk to the main gates.

The worst part of the day was handing over JD55 entrance as I thought that was extortionate, but the idea of spending two days exploring the ancient city was exhilarating. Single entry is JD50.

As we got there so late most of the tourist buses were on their way out so didn’t have to fight to get pictures which was pleasing. We walked the mile through the Siq (narrow gorge) before reaching the Treasury.

The first day was about exploring the main route and then day 2 going to some of the other temples away from the main thoroughfare.

*You have to be careful not to be knocked over by a camel, donkey or a horse and cart.

Roman ruins Jerash
Roman ruins Jerash
Jordan has 4 UNESCO world heritage sites to visit and it is really worth venturing out to see them.

Firstly is Petra, which was covered off in the report.

Quseir Amra - a desert castle which dates back to the 8th Century and is considered the best example of Islamic art.

Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a) - a wonderful archeologically site which has only been partly excavated. It contains ruins which represents many of the country’s areas including Roman, Byzantine, and early Muslim civilizations. The mosaic in the St Stephens Church is incredible.

Finally Wadi Rum the protected desert region. This is a fantastic Luna landscape desert and it is worth spending the night in a Bedouin tent, escaping from the tourist treadmill. This was the highlight of my journey to Jordan!

The Boutique Hotel
The Boutique Hotel
In the centre of the town is the lovely Marriot boutique hotel, located just opposite the main entrance to Petra. I was recommended to visit the Spa there for a dead sea treatment, but chose not to in the end.

As I was on a budget, I chose a less glamorous hotel located on the hill as you head out of Wadi Musa. Al Anabat Hotel has three different properties each catering for a different star of accommodation. I stayed in Al Anabat II which was nothing to write home about. But they did offer breakfast and free internet or WiFi connection. The room was large with cable tv but it did look a bit tired.

My favourite backpacker accommodation was in Amman - The Boutique Hotel. It opened the week before I visited and was perfect for a few nights. It was clean with a great bed, lovely white sheets and had an air of being different. I would love to visit again in a few years to see what it is like. The owner was great and shared some of his plan for the building.

Le Royale Hotel
Le Royale Hotel
The Jordanians like to believe that they have a 6 star hotel - the Le Royal, located in new Amman, I’m not so sure, but it is a very iconic building and during the evening there is a light display as the building is illuminated in many different colours, much like the Burj Al Arab.

The interior is grand in an oval shape. The restaurant is on the 10 floor and the Bar on the 14th. The panoramic views of Amman from up there is amazing on a summer’s evening can be so picturesque.

But the bar is in the smokers room and if it isn’t to busy can be a nice place to get a drink.

I’m usually meticulous at getting the names of restaurants but I seem to have failed here in Wadi Musa. For the life of me I can’t remember where I eat as we had a driver who took us there. It was a lovely Arabian themed restaurant which served middle eastern food. It was very large, catering for a coach party, but we were on our own and the food was served quickly and apart from serving chips the Arabian food was good. I had two flat breads grilled together with peppers, vegatables and beef, and for starters mezze for only 10JD. Very tasty!

My new found love for Arab fast food comes in the form of a shawarma which is similar to a doner kebab, but is served in a flat bread then rolled and grilled so that it is a bit crunchy. It has sliced meat (chicken, lamb, beef) with vegetables, served with a yoghurt dressing etc. Or it can be served in a pitta bread, but I suspect different countries may make it differently.

Other recommendations:
Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo
Whilst Jordan is an Arab state, there is a strong connection to the bible and Christianity:

Mount Nebo - is the mount where Moses is said to have surveyed the Promise Land before dying (he was also buried there). The views are incredible of the holy land and you can see across the River Jordan into Israel and the walls of Jerusalem.

Madaba - this town, to the north of Amman houses the church of John the Baptist and represents where he was beheaded. The church has this incredible well, which dates back many years and even though they cut off the water supply still generates water. As well as a mosaic map of the holy land.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan - The place where Jesus was baptised by John, there is now a church there which commemorates this act on the banks of the River Jordan.

Karak - Once an important city of the biblical kingdom of Moab (where Ruth came from), even today it remained mostly a Christian town even under Arab rule.

Published on Saturday May 12th, 2012

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Thu, Aug 16 2012 - 09:41 AM rating by bootlegga

A nice mix of antiquities and modern, thanks!

Wed, May 16 2012 - 01:39 AM rating by confusemuse

Cool report, Amanda. I was there in 2008 and wish to go back in the near future - with Aqaba gulf & Wadi Rum in the itinerary this time. But the ruins in Petra, Jerash - even in downtown Amman is amazing & very well preserved.

Mon, May 14 2012 - 05:29 AM rating by pesu

Thanks, Amanda, for giving us this interesting report about Jordan. You know, Petra has always been one of my dream destinations. ;-)
Hope you are fine!

Sat, May 12 2012 - 04:44 PM rating by krisek

Thank you Amanda for sharing your experience of Jordan. It is so very timely, as I am venturing there in three weeks... A nicely narrated report with cool photographs, too!

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