Long time no see, huh? I know I know. And I am really sorry for that. I will make it up to you by telling you everything about this wonderful trip I had last year in December, in Jordan. Visited Amman, which is the capital of the country and of course Petra, considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World along with Taj Mahal – India, Christ the Redeemer – Brazil, The Great Wall of China, The Colosseum – Rome, Machu Picchu – Peru and Chichén Itzá – Mexico. Let me tell you more and let me try to explain why it was for me, one of the most meaningful trips ever.
First things first. How did I get to Jordan? Simple. With a direct flight from Bucharest to Amman, using Ryanair. Paid only 48 euros round-trip and the flight’s length was for about 2 hours and a half. So close, yet so far.
Yes! So close, yet so far… because once I first put my feet onto Jordanian land, I felt like I had been extracted from my random and typical life and thrown into a totally different dimension or maybe a whole different world.
Also, a very important aspect: the visa! Which is actually not hard to get at all. Bought a Jordan Pass for 2 days in Petra + 40 other touristic attractions. The Jordan Pass includes also the visa for your stay there and I remember paying approximately 93 euros for it. Once you buy it, then it’s done. You just have to show it in the airport and that’s it.
It was not the first time I was visiting a Muslim country. My first contact with the Arabic culture was while visiting Istanbul in Turkey. Istanbul is actually found between two continents – Europe and Asia, but for sure the vibe is mostly oriental.
So I had a glimpse of what it means a different culture, but still, had no idea what to expect from Jordan. And also, there is this first question that pops up to everyone’s mind when considering visiting Jordan: “Is it safe?”. Well, if you ask me now, the answer will be loud and clear: “YES!!”.
However, it’s normal to ask yourself this question because Jordan is bordering Syria and we all know what’s happening there, unfortunately. But Jordan has nothing to do with that subject. Other than that, Jordanians are extremely happy to welcome tourists in their country! I mean it. I swear I heard at least 50 times “Welcome to Jordan!” randomly in the streets from people, while wandering the city of Amman or Petra. They are extremely kind and helpful and never got into a person or situation that would make me feel insecure.
My travel partner for this trip was my boss who is also one of my best friends too and I am sure visiting Jordan impressed her as much as it impressed me.
DAY 1. We stayed 2 nights in Amman and 2 nights in Petra. Picked the accommodation for Amman at Toledo Hotel and everything was perfect: the service, the room and especially the food!! Jordanian food in general is absolutely delicious! So get ready to eat delicious Hummus, Tabbouleh, Falafel, Moutabel, Mansaf, Manakish… I am practically drooling now I swear. We paid for 2 nights in Amman 146 euros in total with breakfast included as well.
From the airport, we took the Express bus and one-way fare is only 2,5 JOD – approximately 3 euros. Departs every 30 minutes from 6:30 AM to 6:00 PM, and every 60 minutes from 6:00 PM to 00:00 AM. Travel time to/from the airport to Tabarbour bus station in Amman – with a stop at the 7th Circle – it takes about 45-60 minutes. The Express bus stop is outside the Terminal building.
We arrived at the hotel kind of late but we were just in time for sunset. From our window we could see the King Abdullah Mosque which is absolutely gorgeous with its outstanding blue dome! We could also hear the call for prayer so clearly from our room, especially at 5 AM in the morning. Oooops! I woke up every morning at that hour because for me it was unusual, but in the end I always managed to go back to sleep.
That night we didn’t do much, went outside to check the vibe of the city and stopped to eat at Books@Cafe restaurant which I totally recommend! The food was really good, the place has also a nice terrace with gorgeous views over the city and you can also buy… books from there. Because it’s also a library! Isn’t it cool? Oh and they serve alcohol, I am telling you this because in Muslim countries this is not so random.
Went back to the hotel by taxi. In Jordan, it is not unusual to share the taxi with other persons if it’s the case. But again, no need to worry. Taxi is really cheap. I remember we never paid more than 2-3 JOD / 3-4 euros anywhere we went.
DAY 2. Had our breakfast and then headed directly to the King Abdullah Mosque. The entrance fee is only 2 JOD / 2,5 euros. When visiting the mosque, you have to wear an abaya (black robe) that they give you at the entrance.
When you finish visiting the Mosque, there is a shop waiting for you at the exit where they sell many many handmade objects such as scarves, colorful plates, silver jewelry and they are also selling Dead Sea salt which is extremely good for the skin and many other cosmetic products.
I remember that all the people working there were so nice and caring. They even sang Happy Birthday in Arabic for my friend, because yes, it was her birthday yaaay!!
I also remember a special moment, when we started talking about God and a girl said that “God is everywhere!”. That’s so true. No matter the culture, no matter the religion, God is indeed everywhere. And mostly, within us. We are just different people with different beliefs… and that’s ok. We need to stop fighting about whose God is better.
I am not actually a religious person, but I do consider myself a spiritual being. What I want to say is that I could feel the presence of God in a Muslim country, even though I am basically a Christian. These things don’t matter to me. We just need to be open minded and humble.
Moving on… we then went to visit the Amman Citadel which was included in our Jordan Pass. The city of Amman was initially built on seven hills but now spans over 19 hills combining 27 districts. While you are at the citadel, you can see almost the entire city.
It was the call for prayer and we could hear all the mosques in the city with an echo by being on top of that hill. A beautiful moment that cannot be transposed into words because I’m sure I cannot make you feel exactly what I felt back then… It was really special. There are some moments in our lives that are truly unique. I am smiling now.
We walked around the city for a while, because we wanted to reach the Roman Theater. I will show you some photos I took on the way. The Roman Theater was also included in the Jordan Pass.
After wandering all day, we were really hungry so we went to Sufra Restaurant where the food was absolutely delicious and the place itself was extremely nice, beautifully decorated. Yes yes yes!!
Again the people from the restaurant sang Happy Birthday in Arabic. Told you they all are super nice and friendly! They even served us a cake, on the house. Yummy!
I don’t remember well the prices for the food, but to be honest they are quite European. So don’t expect Jordan to be cheap. It’s not expensive either, it’s normal in my opinion. I guess around 10 euros per person, per meal, approximately.
DAY 3. Finally! The day we expected the most! It was the day we traveled to Petra. And we were super excited about that.
We traveled from Amman to Petra using the Jett bus. The price was approximately 10 Euros – one way. The bus left early in the morning at 7 AM and it took around 3 hours to get to Petra.
Once we arrived there, we took a taxi until our hotel and another example to see how kind are the Jordanian people, we didn’t have small change to pay the taxi driver, so he gave us his number and said we can pay him another time. That gesture made him our taxi driver for our entire stay in Petra.
We stayed at Peace Way Hotel and paid only 67 euros in total for 2 nights, breakfast included. The accommodation was simple, nothing fancy, so the price was fair.
We ate a falafel and then headed directly to visit the archaeological site of Petra. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, but you all have seen the amazing pictures in the internet, I am sure. So yes, we couldn’t wait to experience everything!!
Petra lies around Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin surrounded by mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. The area around Petra has been inhabited as early as 7000 BC and the Nabataeans might have settled in what would become the capital city of their kingdom, as early as the 4th century BC. However, archaeological work has only discovered evidence of Nabataean presence dating back to the second century BC, by which time Petra had become their capital. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra’s proximity to the trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub.
The most important monuments in Petra are: The Treasury (AL Khazna), The Monastery (Ad Deir), the Siq, The Royal Tombs, The Big Temple, The Theater, The High Place of Sacrifice, The Church.
You enter the site and a whole new world opens before your eyes. That was my first impression. I was totally amazed by the surroundings.
You first need to walk through a Siq, which is actually a canyon, for approximately 30 minutes before you reach The Treasury – the most photographed place in Petra.
Once we entered the Siq, a little boy came to us and played the guide role for us. I immediately fell in love with this kid and I will always remember him, I swear. He was really poor but so kind, loving and fun. He spoke English perfectly, even with a British accent. I remember I asked him where did he learn English so well, because he wasn’t at school as he was supposed to be normally, and he said he learnt it from the people. I was truly impressed. He was 12 years old and his name was Salah which means righteousness, goodness, peace.
This is the first glimpse you have with The Treasury. Imagine how impressive it is to walk through that Siq for 30 minutes seeing only the big walls of the canyon and then everything unfolds in such a magical way. When you get to see the majestic rock sculpture I can assure you that your words will be lost for minutes and minutes. You will just stare and wonder.
Ok, now let’s talk about the Bedouins. In my mind, before getting there, I assumed that this all thing is just touristy and they dress up like this and wear make-up only to make money. Which yes, to some extent it is indeed the case. But let me tell you something, Bedouins do live there, in Petra, savage and free. And I don’t say it in a bad way, not at all, I appreciated many of them and talked to many of them as well.
They are wise, funny and entertaining for sure. They have some lines that will surely make you laugh, for example: “Don’t worry, we are vegetarians, we don’t eat people!”. Some random guy yelled after this Bedouin from the picture above calling him “Jack Sparrow!!!” and he replied by saying: “Who is Jack Sparrow? He’s just a copy. I am the original!” Also, they will offer you camel or donkey rides but in very ingenious ways such as: “Do you want a ride with this Ferrari? It also has air conditioning” haha. I don’t like the idea of riding camels and donkeys but let’s agree that they are funny in the way the try to convince you to do it.
What I am trying to say is that they are good and nice people, you shouldn’t avoid them. Of course, they do want to make money, but it’s normal. Petra is actually their land and they will try to convince you to buy handmade stuff from them. But only after they will offer you tea. They call their tea “Bedouin Whiskey” and I can assure you it is strong as whiskey in some cases haha. Yes, sometimes they can get a little too pushy but after you refuse them nicely, they will not insist.
We only went through the Siq and saw The Treasury that day, because it was already getting dark. So we headed back to the city. We ate at a restaurant named Red Cave but to be honest the food wasn’t that great and it was really cold inside. Not a place I would recommend, even though it looked pretty cool.
DAY 4. Had our breakfast and went again to Petra because we had 2 days included in our Jordan Pass and we still had to see other places inside the archaeological site. It’s very big the entire land and you need at least one full day to see everything. So we entered again the Siq, and walked until The Treasury just like the day before.
Then we headed to The Royal Tombs, but on our way we stopped and bought some souvenirs from a very pretty young lady who also served us some tea. We talked about life for few minutes. I appreciated how simple and kind she was. I remember I asked her if she was happy living there and she responded fast and confident saying: “Yes! Happiness lies in little things.” And I couldn’t agree more.
Fun fact: you can even pay with your credit card because they have POS. I mean it! Haha
Now you all know those beautiful pictures with The Treasury that are taken somewhere from a height and of course I wanted to also have that kind of picture. I’ve read online before that there is a long trail of about 2 hours to get on top of a mountain until you reach the viewing point. But there is also another way, a shorter one. For only 30 minutes. The second option is way more difficult and the police is not letting you do it unless a Bedouin helps you to go up. And yes, Bedouins do ask for money if you choose that path. Therefore, we chose the longest road. If I would do it again, I guess I would choose the other one, even with paying the Bedouins for help, because I think the viewing point is better from that spot.
Anyway, while we were going up, you couldn’t hear anything else but the silence. At one point, a Bedouin crossed by on a donkey, while playing the flute. Imagine hearing that beautiful sound echoing in the canyon. It was priceless!
When we reached the top of the mountain, we actually met the same Bedouin from earlier, who was staying there with a friend in an improvised shack.
Please believe me when I say that these people are genuinely happy. You might think that they have so little, but in the end you get to realize that they truly have everything. While taking this photo, they were listening to “Bob Marley – Could you be loved” and preparing some Bedouin whiskey. Anyway, all I want to say is that they’re living their lives exactly how they want to. They’re free! And that’s all that matters in the end.
When we finally got to the viewing point, guess what? The light was too powerful and I didn’t like any of my pictures taken from that spot. I guess luck wasn’t on my side that morning. Anyway, I regret nothing, as always haha.
We then went down that mountain only to climb another one, in order to reach The Monastery. The time to reach the base of the next mountain and then start climbing it until The Monastery was for approximately 2 hours.
So here we go again: READY, SET, GO!!
On our way up we met such nice people, tourists of all kinds and ages climbing to get to The Monastery. We even met a couple of around 70-80 years old!! We were truly impressed by their strength and desire to visit those places. Me and my friend, we were actually talking about how hard it would be for our parents to come here and then we saw this couple. I guess that when you really want something, you can do it.
So yeah, we finally reached the place and we were again mesmerized by the immensity that was unfolding just in front of our eyes. I am telling you, once you are there, you feel like you are out of this world. And that’s such a great feeling!
YUP!! That’s a Bedouin standing on top of The Monastery! Told you that this is their land and they can do whatever they want haha. It was actually Jack Sparrow ^^
After that, we started our journey back. On the way, we met another amazing girl from Australia and we shared each other some of our travel stories. It’s so nice when you get to meet beautiful people from all around the world.
We passed once again by The Treasury and said goodbye to this place and admired its grandeur one more time before leaving.
Because it was our last night there, we spent few hours at Mövenpick Resort where we tasted the Petra beer. Yes, they have their own beer. Cheers!! The Resort is a piece of art, the interior is amazing. Don’t miss it!
DAY 5. We didn’t do much. Just went back to Amman to catch our flight back to Bucharest. Didn’t take the bus for the return because there was no Jett bus leaving that early. Therefore, we took a taxi, paid around 60 euros in total and in 2 hours we were at the airport ready to go. I think the price was fair because the distance between Petra and Amman is for approximately 300 km.
So this was our trip to Jordan! It was an amazing experience and I’ve learnt so many things during this trip. I discovered a whole different world after a flight of only 2 hours and a half from home.
I would definitely visit this country again… and especially Petra because hey… you don’t get to see one of the New Seven Wonders of the World each day! And also because I didn’t have the chance to explore the Wadi Rum desert or take a bath into the Dead Sea.
Until next time,
- Our stay in Jordan: 11.12.2018 – 15.12.2018
- Bucharest – Amman and return flight: Ryanair 48 euros
- Accommodation Amman: Toledo Hotel 146 euros – 2 nights/ 73 euros per person
- Accommodation Petra: Peace Way Hotel 67 euros – 2 nights / 33.5 euros per person
- Visa (Jordan Pass): 93 euros
- Total: 250 euros – for 1 person