After spending 3 months in Lebanon I made my way down to Jordan via the capital, Amman. It used to be called Philadelphia, when they were under the Greek empire which means the city of brotherly love (like the city in the U.S. is as well).
The country has a fascinating history. It is a monarchy that was once under British rule, and is now run by the Hashemite family, direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (the Prophet of Islam) and is around 90% Muslim. I was lucky enough to avoid guesthouses and be hosted by some great people in Jordan.
Below are images of Amman, where I spent most of my time and tried to organize some things about my trip. I loved going out to explore and also made some friends that invited me to play football a few times and discovered a gypsy camp near where I was staying and went to visit them a couple of times to play with them and take pictures.
Video of the cute kids at the Gypsy Camp in Amman.
I also went twice to visit the Dead Sea, around an hour away from Amman, which is not a sea! It’s a lake 10 times saltier than the sea. It is also around 800 meters below sea level and considered the lowest piece of land on earth. I went once with a group that cycles out there, the Amman Cycling Club which was a nice experience. The other time I went with my friends Robert and Nate and we had a blast.
It is such an amazing place. The water is SO dense (30% salinity) that you float in the water and it is very difficult to go underneath the surface. Of course I did what everyone tells you not to to do. I opened my eyes underwater and WOW did it sting a few minutes, but it was worth it! And I recommend showering as soon as you can after as I didn’t and parts of your body you wouldn’t expect sting…like nipples!
Most of my time in Jordan I stayed with my very good friend Monica from Italy (Sicily) who I met in Amman and one weekend we rented a car to see the small town Madaba and the Dana Reserve. Funny enough we got lost on the way there and then the car wouldn’t start and we spent 8 hours in a small town being helped by a 17 year old mechanic named Mo who was a sweetheart and eventually at 2 am we kept going and finally made it to the Dana Reserve around 3 am. It is a stunning valley with amazing views. Pictures below from that wonderful experience that included seeing a Bedouin shepherd tending to his sheep.
I also went to the most famous place in Jordan, Petra. It is a legendary archaeological site and former home of The Nabataeans. Nomads that lived off of trade (as Petra used to sit in the trade route between Asia, Africa and Europe) and built this spectacular ancient city. Most people think Petra is just one very impressive building (The Treasury is the name of the famous building), but it is the ruins an entire city with many amazing structures carved out of sandstone and has spectacular views all around. I recommend Jordan Travel & Tours for exploring this incredible place.
To spice things up I chose not to take a bus down there, but to hitchhike there. Indeed it was an adventure and it didn’t help that I didn’t start until noon, as it took me 8 hours to get there when it normally takes 3 hours on a bus. While it only took me 10 minutes to get my first ride, there were moments it took me hours to get a new ride and when I was still far away and it was getting dark I got on the local bus and made it! But most people were really kind to me and even gave me free food.
From Petra I went further south to Wadi Rum, also called the valley of the moon for the terrain looking surreal and from another planet. It is a spectacular valley of deserts and I had the pleasure to share it with a nice group of people, before finishing off in Aqaba, a special place where where Jordan, Egypt and Israel share the Red Sea and you can see all 3 countries from the beach.
In total I spent a month in Jordan, that flew by. I didn’t explore this country as much as other countries as it is sadly very expensive (some people said even more so than Dubai!), but with my Couchsurfing and with people being so kind to me I was able to do it on my $10 a day budget.
I loved seeing that it maintains it’s culture and heritage and you see so many people wearing their traditional red and white scarf, the shemagh. Also, it is the only country in the world I’ve experienced people I don’t know inviting me to sit and eat with them when they are eating and you walk by them. I received this invitation many times while in Jordan, and once I even accepted it in the park in Amman.
Jordan also has a huge heart and has accepted over 3.5 million refugees since 1948 with over 2 million Palestinians that have been well incorporated into society and the national identity. Recently 1.4 million Syrians refugees have also been accepted due to the conflict in the neighboring country.
My final verdict:
It is extremely safe and it has some spectacular places like Petra and Wadi Rum and has very welcoming people, definitely go!
Additional videos and Information below:
Probably my favorite day in Jordan…went to the park and mosque and made friends at both places including the guy who sings the prayers at the mosque.
If you haven’t seen it yet, while I was in Jordan I was lucky enough that my friend Robert made this amazing video for me to help me with my cause of sharing my trip:
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The Dead Sea