Light Speed through Jordan

We hit all the highlights of Jordan in just 3.5 days and 4 nights! Jordan has been on our travel list since the very beginning. It has one of the seven new wonders of the world, Petra, along with the Wadi Rum desert where numerous films like Star Wars and Dune were filmed. It also borders the Dead Sea and has ancient Greek and Roman ruins. All things we definitely wanted to hit on our trip when we went back in May. 

We flew into the Amman airport from Egypt, got a rental car, and drove 3 hours to Wadi Musa, the town that Petra is in. Our Airbnb host was lovely and brought us a giant platter of traditional Jordanian food, spiced rice with chicken and vegetables that is traditionally cooked underground for several hours. 

That evening, my mom and I went to see Petra by Night. We walked along the siq (slot canyon) that was lit with paper candles to the Treasury (the building you think of when you think of Petra). There were rows and rows of paper candles in front of the Treasury and hundreds of people sitting and waiting for the show to start. The show itself was not very exciting. A guy played the flute, someone told a story, and they played a bit of music. The most exciting part of that portion was when a guy in front of us tried to take a picture with one of the paper candles. It caught on fire in his lap! In the end, they lit the Treasury up with different colored lights and we took plenty of pictures. I tried to make shadow animals on the Treasury, but unfortunately, it didn’t work. We even got pictures holding the paper candles without them lighting on fire. However, there was a bunch of kids who ran around purposely setting the candles on fire, which ruined the vibe a bit. It was pretty cool, but you definitely want to stay as long as possible, so the walk back is not crowded and you can get all the pictures you want. 

Petry by Night

The next morning, we woke up super early so we could get into the Petra Complex as soon as it opened. We got our tickets and speed walked through the Siq to get to the Treasury before everyone else. By the time we got there, there were only a couple of other people. We got all of our nice pictures, and then followed our guide past some fences and up the cliff to a nice upper view spot of the Treasury. They had set up a whole little cafe with tea, rugs, and cushions for people to relax and get their Instagram-worthy shots. We had the breakfast we brought, some tea, and took our Instagram-worthy shots.

We climbed down and headed for the rest of the archaeological complex. We saw giant old tombs, an amphitheater, cool stripy caves, and a very large and echoey church.

We then got donkeys and rode them up the stairs to get to the Monastery. The Monastery is the other famous Petra building.

We took lots of pictures, then climbed up the hill even more to get views of Israel in the distance.

We took our time walking down and going back out of the archaeological complex.

As we passed the Treasury on our way out, it was swarmed with thousands of people all trying to take their pictures.

Afterward, we got a nice Jordanian lunch and spent the afternoon relaxing and resting after a seven-hour day that started at 5am. For dinner, we had delicious Yemeni food that came with massive pieces of fresh flatbread (which we ordered after a super nice guy saw us looking at his bread and offered to let us try!). Yum!

On our second full day, we drove 2 hours down to Wadi Rum. We got a quick briefing, then hopped in a jeep and toured around the red desert. We saw Lawrence Spring, climbed a sand dune, visited a slot canyon, and saw a mini stone arch. There was a lot of stuff named after Lawrence of Arabia (it was filmed there). It didn’t make much sense to Asher or I, as we’ve never seen the movie, nor thought of it as important. The red desert was pretty incredible looking, and surprisingly not hot.

The guide parked the jeep in the shade of a cliff overhang, made a fire, and cooked us a hot traditional Bedouin lunch. We took a siesta before continuing on and visiting Mushroom rock, another canyon (lamer), a third canyon (best canyon!), and a medium-sized stone arch.

Then we drove to a viewpoint to watch the sunset over the red desert. To the left was an empty, flat yellow desert with some large rock formations in the background. To the front, the edge of the red desert, glowing like hot coals.

We had a delicious Bedouin dinner (which included chicken and veggies that were cooked underground for several hours) and went to sleep in our goat-fur cabins. 

Besides the red desert, Wadi Rum is known for having some of the clearest night skies. There is no light pollution, and it was dry, so no clouds. Since the moon set at around 1am, I set an alarm for 3am when the visibility would be the best. I woke up, bundled myself in many many layers, and wandered out into the freezing cold to stargaze. It was incredible. There were so many stars, so many constellations, and I could even see the Milky Way! It also happened to be the peak of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower, so I got to see some shooting stars (aka meteors). I did some photography, and by 4:30, my mom had joined me out in the cold.

Taken from my phone

By then, we could see the conjunction of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn! Super cool! Finally, my dad joined us and we stargazed until the light of the sunrise ruined the darkness.

Left to right: Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn

We went back to bed, woke up, had a lovely breakfast, and drove to the Dead Sea. Right before the Dead Sea, we stopped and found a tiny hole-in-the-wall falafel joint that had the best and cheapest meal we had had in Jordan. 

Delicious and cheap falafel

To go into the Dead Sea, most sites suggest fancy resorts or beaches with expensive entrance fees. Through some Google mapping, budget travel article reading, and 2 false stops, we made it to a place that supposedly had free access to the Dead Sea (and free hot springs to rinse off in!). The spot did indeed deliver: FREE Dead Sea access, FREE Dead Sea mud, Free warm springs, and….. Lots of FREE trash. The spot did not have the same maintenance that other spots might have had, because there was lots of trash everywhere 😦 We floated in the Dead Sea, took our classic Dead Sea pictures, did extremely cheap (read FREE) Dead Sea mud spa treatment, rinsed off the mud in the Dead Sea, and rinsed off the salt in one of the warm spring pools (with a random plastic water bottle). It was a fun, interesting, and FREE experience! On our way out, we even got question-bombarded by a family of locals curious as to what four random tourists were doing in that locals-only part of Jordan. 

We drove from the Dead Sea to Jerash. We got in in the late afternoon but wanted to see Jerash before we had to leave early in the morning. Our hotel was right by the fence, and since we had Jordan Passes, the guy at the hotel pointed us to the hole in the fence. We squeezed through, walked through a field of weeds, and explored the ruins of Jerash. Jerash has a Temple to Artemis with very intact and intricate pillars. There was also an amphitheater that had a man playing bagpipes?

We had a fancier dinner than we usually do because we wanted to spend the last of our Dinars before we left for Lebanon in the morning. 

We managed to squeeze a massive amount of Jordan into a few days and it was incredible. I would definitely recommend going to Jordan, though maybe add a few days because going that fast is, unsurprisingly, really tiring.

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