Jordan Day Two
Our next day we were scheduled to visit Jarash, the most complete Greco-Roman city in the world. Jarash was first established as a city in 70 AD. As with all tourist sites, you must first “Run the Gauntlet” of vendors selling souvenirs. They will yell out the prices as you walk by and implore you to “just look, no cost to look!”
Now I will teach you the MOST IMPORTANT Arabic phrase you can ever learn….La, Shokran. It means, “No, Thank you.” If you master this phrase well enough, with the right accent, you will have no issues with the vendors. I found it to work spectacularly well throughout our entire trip with one small exception later on.
Next we moved on to the partially reconstructed Hippodrome. Its easy to imagine the excitement of the chariot races taking place right here. In fact, they are still run as tourist attractions (although not on the day we were there) and the Hippodrome itself is under reconstruction.
We then stopped by an ancient olive oil press, with the pressing stone still in place! Shortly we arrived at the Oval Plaza, a massive open area with huge colonnades leading from the gates to the Amphitheater and the temples.
We headed up to the South Theater where I stopped a moment to sing “Amazing Grace” with the Jordanian bagpiper. This is one of those things that I probably would never have done at home, but wow was it cool! There are still performances and music festivals held here today!
We then moved along to marvel at the incredibly preserved mosaic floor on a church floor before climbing up to the temple of Artemis. Here we stopped to feel the swaying pillar…some of us could feel it, some could not…but we all saw the spoon move that our guide put in the crack to show us the movement.
The view from the Temple of Artemis over Jerash was incredible. There is no doubt why it was chosen as a place of worship.
We then headed back towards the entrance using the Colonnaded Street. Along the way our guide pointed out the large Nymphaeum that was fed by the aqueduct system.
We made a brief visit to the Zeus museum, which is small but pretty cool!
And then it was back in the bus to head to lunch! We stopped at a local restaurant for a quick bread (pita) making demonstration in the brick oven, then moved on to the restaurant for another yummy, traditional Jordanian lunch of salad (when they say salad in most of the Middle East, they mean things like hummus, moutabal ), a chicken dish, a beef dish and a lamb dish, and of course, fries.
After lunch we moved on to Ajloun Castle, built in 1184 to control the traffic along the road between Damascus and Egypt. Prior to visiting the actual castle, we stopped at the gift shop/restaurant at the base. There we had a lovely cup of tea and each got our names written in the Arabic language.
Then, we were going to take the bus up to the top of the hill that the castle was on…see? Giant Hill!
But two of the ladies decided that they wanted to walk up instead so they could get some exercise…well. As the youngest in the tour group, I enthusiastically offered to join them. How hard could it be, right?
Well here I am, texting my children my final goodbyes. Wow! Between the hill and the temperature, it was rough! But I made it, only to be faced with this brilliant castle…and about seven thousand stairs to climb!
Well maybe not seven thousand, but there were a bunch of stairs! However, the view from the top was worth it! The Jordan Valley is laid out beneath it, and it is said that on a clear day, you can see all the way to Tel Aviv!
After our visit to this castle, it was back to the hotel in Amman to get ready for our Home Hosted dinner. If I am being honest, I was not looking forward to this. It’s always kind of awkward going into someone else’s home and asking them a bunch of questions about their lives, and then asking to be fed.
However, the family we visited that night in Jordan were absolutely lovely! The food was spectacular and I was able to try some Jordanian wine and a Jordanian digestif that tasted like Ouzo!
I was glad that I was able to try the wine, I had wanted to use our first day to take a winery tour as Jordanian wine is an up and coming product, but since we slept most of the day away that first morning, that really didn’t pan out. How were they? Well…drinkable. The vines are not quite back to biblical levels yet, but keep an eye on this region, it could be exiting in the future.
The next morning we checked out of our hotel and headed to Petra!!!!! I was so excited for this, I could barely contain myself! Stay tuned…we have cocktails in a tomb, a donkey ride, the Kings Highway, Mount Nebo…all before we even leave Jordan!