Jordan - April 2010
April 17th                A total of 11 of us continued on to Jordan after our time in Egypt.  We were pleased with
the Royal Jordanian Airline service.  Lindblad contracted with
UTA to handle our travel in Jordan and they
did an outstanding job. They had prearranged our visas and whisked us through customs and security.  Our
guide was
Raed (pronounced Rod)  who is an independent guide that subcontracts with UTO and others.  
He was excellent and we would highly recommend him to anyone considering a trip to Jordan.

We were served a light lunch on the plane, so Raed took us directly to the site of an ancient Roman theater
in the heart of Amman.  The site had a small folklore museum with interesting artifacts, including some
unique jewelry. We then continued on to the
Citadel situated on the top of a hill with views overlooking
Amman, including the Roman theater we had visited.  The real treat here was a wonderful
museum which
included statuary dating back to 10,000 BC as well as several Dead Sea Scrolls. The Citadel is also the site
of the Temple of Hercules.

We checked into the Grand Hyatt Hotel.  The two of us were exhausted and slept through dinner (which was
on our own) and into the morning.  By the way, Amman was named
Philadelphia and was the site of several
hotel bombings in 2005 (just found that out while preparing this blog safely ensconced in Paris).  The
security at the hotels we checked into was serious, and it is obvious they are doing everything possible to
keep the country safe.  

April 18th                Unlike the early mornings of the previous week, we did not start out until 8:30 or 9:00 in
the morning while in Jordan.  This morning we drove north of Amman to
Jerash,  site of the Roman city of
Gerasa.  The site is extensive and is considered one of the best preserved Roman cities in the Near East.  
Have you ever seen Arab Bagpipers:
click here!

After lunch we had a long drive to Petra along the Kings Highway which borders the Jordanian desert to
the south of Amman.  We stayed at the
Petra Movenpick Hotel which had the best restaurants we
encountered during our entire time in Egypt and Jordan.

April 19th                After breakfast it was short walk to the entrance to Petra.  Raed spent about 4 hours
guiding us through the ruins, which is a 2 1/2 mile walk from one end to the other.  We then had the
remainder of the day to wander back and explore the site on our own.

Petra is one of the reasons people visit Jordan, and we were not disappointed.  We knew that there was a
narrow corridor leading into the ruins, but had no idea it is actually a narrow canyon over 1/2 mile long.  
When you reach the end of the canyon and get a first glance of the "Treasury" through the narrow opening
at the end of the canyon, it really is awe inspiring!

April 20th                The Lindblad segment of our time in Jordan ended with a drive along the Desert
Highway to the Dead Sea,  Along the way we visited a church in
Madaba that contains a mosaic map of the
region dating to the 6th century AD.  After lunch we drove on to
Mount Nebo where the Bible says the
prophet Moses died.  We checked into the Kimpenski Dead Sea Resort and later that evening had our
farewell dinner with Raed and the other tour participants.

April 21st to 27th        We stayed at the Kimpenski for an additional a 6 nights before continuing on to
Paris.  Physically the resort is impressive, and our room was large and comfortable with a balcony looking
across the Dead Sea at the Palestinian West Bank.  Unfortunately the resort's restaurants were a
disappointment.  The main restaurant is set up with plastic chairs on cement floors which were extremely
and irritatingly noisy when the legs scrape against the floor.  Breakfast and dinners are buffet style with
lots of choices, but our preference is to have a choice of ordering ala carte from a menu.  We ate one night
at the Thai Restaurant, but the food was only mediocre.  The most romantic choice was the poolside grill at
dinner, but unfortunately we both ended up with "
Pharaoh's Revenge" after eating there on separate
evenings, the only time it happened during our time in either Egypt or Jordan.

We did not venture into the Dead Sea, or partake of smearing our skin with the inky black
dead sea mud
which is reported to have magical therapeutic powers.  Watching others was sufficient to satisfy our

Dead Sea itself was much bluer and beautiful than we anticipated.  We were about 1400 feet below sea
level and as such the additional layer of atmosphere filters out most of the harmful ultraviolet rays that
cause sunburn.  We were careful to stay in the shade at first, but then realized that it is actually difficult to
get a sunburn at that elevation.

In summary - Jordan was much cleaner and modern than we were anticipating.  The people were very
friendly and helpful; and seemed to be tolerant of all religions and dress codes (within reason).  It was
obvious that security was tight,  Eleanor was always "patted down" at the airports and hotels.  Apparently
many of the suicide bombers are now women with explosives hidden in their undergarments.  At all of the
hotels we had to pass through metal detectors, and our luggage was screened.  Having said that, it was
also true that the security people were at all times polite and as non-intrusive as is possible in such a
position; totally unlike the surly attitude of many of the security people we must deal with at the New York