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Category Archives: Jordan

On Planet Jedha

Wadi Rum camp entrance, Jordan

The resort was spectacular. In Wadi Rum they were waiting us with dinner while the moon was rising over the hills. The trail of lights up the hill behind the camp are following a set of steps that bring you up the mountain to meditate in the silence of the night under full moon or at the sunrise.

Wadi Rum camp, Jordan

The tent accommodation proved to be extremely comfortable and when the moon set towards the wee hours of the night the sky filled with stars that reminded me of the magic show that we had in the Australia outback, only that this time I was watching the northern sky constellations.

Sunrise in Wadi Rum, Jordan

The morning sunrise under a sky filled with a broken blanket of clouds was inspiring so I climbed the mountain and watched till the sun came high on the sky and the Dutch girl teaching yoga in the camp started her lesson in the serenity of the desert.

After sunrise

Wadi Rum was in the thrills of “Star Wars”. Sony was filming and did some costume rehearsal and everybody was freaking out and did their best not to allow people close to their compound. Drones were banned and the regular hot air balloon rides at sunrise were suspended in order to keep the Hollywood secrets of the Planet of Jedha away from the plebeians of the other planets.

Jeep Safari in Wadi Rum, Jordan

The promised “Jeep ride” turned out to be “Toyota Land Cruiser ride” and the two cars followed each other between the weirdly shaped mountains that surround an expanse of fine sand of various colors.

Guarding the Star Wars compound, Wadi Rum, Jordan

The landscape was used as background in a number of films, most notable the Star Wars productions of “Rogue One” and “The Martian”.

Ready to shoot on Planet Jedha

The cars followed each other in the Mushroom Valley, a place with a Bedouin tent and a formation shaped like a mushroom that was marked with signs by a crew for the films guys not to get lost in the desert.

Mushroom Valley, Wadi Rum, Jordan

After about two hours of stalking the guys from the “Star Wars” compound the two car caravan made his way back to the camp and in a short while we were driven all the way to Aqaba, the Jordanian border town on the shores of the Red Sea, from where we walked again over the border reaching much faster the Israeli side.

….and the Mushroom, Wadi Rum, Jordan

What is interesting when you cross the border into Jordan is that the narratives changes. It becomes more political with strong criticism for the British who are still blamed for the poor state of the Arab states and the fact that they installed in the Middle East puppet monarchies that they were able to manipulate and extort according to this discourse. Jordan tries to be relatively neutral in rapport with Israel but they show an obvious adverse attitude against Saudi Arabia and its new prince MBS who was vilified for the killing of the dissident journalist. On the same token all hopes are placed in Erdogan, the new sultan that might be able to revive the old Muslim glory and bury the shame brought on Turkey by Ataturk whom many perceived as a traitor of the real Turkish values. Wow, a completely different point of view!

The Jordan kings and their lineage, Aqaba, Jordan

The agency that organized the tour Fun Travel is for sure not so “fun” because they abandoned us for more than an hour in the sun and after that they sent two cabs from the town to take tours and, after giving totally confusing information, they dropped us all on the Eilat promenade, a place of hotels and restaurants and a pebbly beach where the only and great thing to do is to dive into the warm waters of the Red Sea and have a beer on the shore.

Red Sea beach, Eilat, Israel

It took a lot of back and forth to understand when and where will come the bus that would took us back but eventually it happened and we were ported by a driver who was constantly fumbling with his music player and sent text and talked over the phone while driving at full speed on an empty Negev desert road. The drop off was the same as the pick up and we arrived around 1:30am at our hotels in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

Eilat and the Red Sea under full moon, Israel

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Posted by on October 22, 2018 in Blog, Israel, Jordan

 

On the steps of “Indiana Jones”

Petra, Jordan

In spite of the heavily advertised closeness of Petra, the place is actually quite far and the trip is probably not the best to be approached from northern Israel. If done from Eilat may work better but from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv you spend many hours on the road and crossing borders. Besides you have to pay the Jordanian visa if you stay less than three days – $65 – and an exit fee for Israel, also $65, that sounds more like “we charge you because we can” than a need for it.
There are one-two-or three days trips to Petra+Wadi Rum and for sure the best would be the 3 days option.

A tomb in Petra, Jordan

The bus picks you up from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem at 4am and they meet in Lot and put everybody in only one bus towards the border that you reach around 8:30 AM. It takes about 2 hours to cross the Jordanian border and after that another 2.5 hours you may reach Petra. Once there they process the tickets and start the organization and if they are fast you can get 2-2.5 hours on site that does not give you enough time to see even half of the site. If you choose to stay another day on site is most probably enough to see the entire site. And after that it may take another day to stay in Wadi Rum and they would drop you to Eilat and back to Jerusalem/Tel Aviv around 1:30 AM.

Tombs on top of other tombs, Petra, Jordan

The site is though spectacular and you are looking in awe at the magnificent tombs cut into the rock all the size of the canyon walls. Petra was a backwater and completely unknown for the traveling crowd till the Hollywood production of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” put it on the map. It was probably the best advertising Jordan got not investing a penny into it. Since the movie came out thousands of people visited the site and the hotels in the forgotten town multiplied.

“The Treasury”, Petra, Jordan

Petra was built in a canyon. Mules, horses and carriages trot through the canyons caring people towards the famous Treasury, the temple from the movie. But the Treasury was never a treasury or a temple but a gigantic tomb of a people that wanted more comfort in afterlife than in their own terrestrial life. The entire canyon of Petra is actually a large high-end cemetery full of tombs whose facades are carved on the entire face of the canyon.

The higher royal tombs, Petra, Jordan

Petra was ruled by the Nabatiens, a nation of commerce people, for about 475 years and had 14 kings and two queens. All wanted power and control over its population so they built a large amphitheater whose acoustic is still impeccable in order to be able to be heard by their people, the modern bully pulpit of the President.

The old city of Petra, Jordan

In front of it and down into the canyon that bisects and are numerous spectacularly large tombs with magnificent facades and nothing inside, all in an astonishing landscape.

Royal tomb, Petra, Jordan

The entire archeological site is full of locals whose stalls sell everything imaginable inside the canyon or try to guide offering camel rides, if you want to look like Lawrence of Arabia, or and donkey ride if you feel biblical.

Royal tomb, Petra, Jordan

However any hikes outside of the main canyon must be done only with a local guide, a way to share the benefits of this amazing site.

Inside a royal tomb, Petra, Jordan

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2018 in Blog, Jordan