It is the end of a very interesting and transitional day. We had to bid farewell to our guide, Andre, and we were warmly welcomed to Jordan by our new guide, Mohammed. Hey, he’s nice and we can understand him – so that’s a good guide. So far.
The morning began without any hitches. We were up and at breakfast before 7, with our bags out. All were in the lobby by 7:30 – and the trek to Jordan was on. Traffic out of the city of Jerusalem was a breeze. We got one final overlook of the Temple Mount which was spectacular.
The border crossing was not bad at all. In fact, we were about the only people at passport control – so it was the total opposite of my last experience leaving Israel for Jordan. Buses of locals were unloading, so they must now have their own area. But for whatever reason, we sailed through. We all got to say our final goodbyes to Andre. And soon we were in Jordan – with a just a bus driver. The guide waits for us a mile or so inside the border – at Jordanian passport control. That makes sense. He collected our passports and was gone. Hope all is fine.
It is. We were soon back on the road, passports safely stored away.
It’s a great day today. Clear and good views. We decided to move Mt Nebo to today so that we could catch the views and have more time at the hotel on the Dead Sea on Wednesday. Sounds like a great plan.
Our first stop was Bethany-beyond-Jordan. It is a wonderfully authentic sight, but I think we missed some of the significance. I should have brought my Bible with me and read the passages. But the sight has uncovered some Byzantine church structures, so it is probably authentic. They have built a bunch of churches everywhere – and I’m not so sure they are finished even yet. Amazing. We did finally make it down to the Jordan River (and gazed back across at Israel maybe 20 feet away). The water was really muddy, Mohammed blamed the recent rain. But it was like that two years ago too. Hmmm.
Back to the bus (horrible restrooms) and on our way to Mt. Nebo. It wasn’t too bad a drive, but very much uphill all the way. Up there they paved the walk into the site when the Pope came in 2000 – but not much has happened since. They built a church over an old church…but never finished it. And it’s been year. Wow. But we came for the views. It was pretty clear. We could see the Dead Sea and Jericho and definitely up the Jordan Valley. But we couldn’t see Jerusalem, which I guess is possible.
It was a nice stop. Next was the mosaic factory. Huh? Same one as a couple of years ago. It is really interesting. It is really expensive. And we weren’t there long. Lunch in Madaba. It was a great lunch – but way too much food. We really just need a falafel or schawarma. Oh well.
Back on the bus the trip down to Petra begins. It’s about a 2-3 hour drive from Madaba. Mohammed let us sleep for a while. That’s good because we were going to anyway. This bus is huge and comfortable and everything our mini-bus in Israel wasn’t. So we slept away. We had a quick restroom/snack stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And guess what? There were souvenirs for sale. Oh wow. But the snacks were SO expensive, we all passed.
Soon we were back on the bus. Next stop: Petra. Well, our hotel at least. I think we rolled in about 4:30 or so. We are at the Moevenpick Petra. It’s a great hotel, and even better than the last time I was here (which was a really long time ago). The beds are great. The bathroom amazing. The service first class. And dinner? Well, let’s just say it was a gastronomical delight. They were grilling salmon right there in the buffet line. They had great lamb, chicken, pasta. Just about anything you wanted. The bread was delicious. The desserts…well, let’s just say we sampled them all and it took a while. Bread pudding seemed to be the favorite.
After dinner seven of us headed across to Petra – three nights a week (and Monday is one of them) they do a candlelit walk to Petra. It cost $18 but sounded like a unique experience. And it was. We did it with 200-300 of our closest friends. But we were spread out so it wasn’t too bad. You are suppose to walk in silence, which some nationalities had a hard time doing. But we were able to separate ourselves enough that made the walk – with luminaries all the way down the path and siq – an unforgettable experience. Now seeing it in the daylight tomorrow will be great. They did a show at the Treasury. Not much of a show – but they had several hundred luminaries spread out in front of the Treasury building. If people weren’t taking 5,000 flash pictures, it could have been even more impressive. They played some flute music (I think it was live) and then some guy sang a song in Arabic. Have no idea what that was about. Then, he started to talk (in English) so we headed back. It was great because we beat the hoards – and our hotel is just next to the visitor’s center.
The moon was coming out behind the clouds through most of the walk, so that was great. To be down in between the canyon walls with the moonlight breaking through every now and then – spectacular.
So now the day is done. We get to enjoy this wonderful hotel. Can’t wait for breakfast. Ha. We are out of here at 8:30 am. So we get a little more rest than today. Sweet.