We arrived at Queen Alia Airport outside of Amman and immediately headed to our hotel in Amman. After getting a good night's sleep, we went out to explore the city the next day.
We found that Amman is very similar to middle eastern cities we have encountered before; countless markets, roasting chickens, hanging lamb heads, the constant noise and of course the warm hearted welcoming people. The capital city of Jordan does not have much to offer in the way of tourism other then the Citadel perched on top of a hill overlooking the city and yet another Roman theatre. Roman influence is everywhere! There are many fine restaurants, hotels, and shopping restaurants to choose from. It is very cosmopolitan in that sense.
We left Amman to go to the Dead Sea and this would be the highlight of our trip to Jordan. The Dead Sea is located in the Jordan Valley and is 422 meters (1385 ft) below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface on dry land. The Dead Sea is by far one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. With 33.7% salinity, floating around in the waters was a surreal experience and completely effortless. One could even read a book while floating.
We went off to Wadi Musa to see Petra, which has been awarded the New Seven Wonders of the World title. We arrived at Wadi Musa about three and half hours later; and made our way to down to the city of Petra. We walked through the famous Siqs and encountered the enormous structure of Al Khazneh ("The Treasury"). Amazingly the city of Petra remained undiscovered by the Western world until 1812, when it was uncovered by a Swiss explorer by the name of Burckhardt. Since the discovery it has become known as "a rose-red city half as old as time." Our exploration of Petra took two full days to complete and included a forbidden climb to the urn crowning The Monastery. A day in Petra is incomplete without seeing the city during sunrise or sunset, when the rocks turn an amazing shade of pink (we naturally opted for the sunset to avoid the early rise).
From Petra we made our way to Aqaba for some much needed R&R for our sore muscles. We spent several days enjoying the warmth Aqaba had to offer by drinking, relaxing and snorkeling on the South Coast. We were pleasantly surprised to discover some of the most amazing reefs and colorful fish so close to the South Coast. The weather was a very nice change from the "fresh" temperatures of Wadi Musa.
While in Aqaba and Wadi Musa we met several travelers who highly recommended Wadi Rum, some even going as far as saying it is better than Petra. Naturally we wanted to see it for ourselves. We arrived in Wadi Rum armed with warm clothes, an open mind, and 2 liters of Whisky (mainly to keep warm)! We had heard that the best and cheapest way to explore the vast desert of Wadi Rum was with a 4x4 Jeep tour with the local Bedouin. Since there are three of us, we had some bargaining power and managed to negotiate a jeep tour, a night in a Bedouin camp, dinner and breakfast for 25 JD each. Pretty good deal considering tour companies were asking for 60JD each! At noon we set off for our adventure with high hopes for a gorgeous sunset and star gazing, little did we know what fate had in store for us. In the first two hours we saw the famous sand dunes, which awoke the competitive spirit in Dan and John, and the two rock bridge formations along with countless protruding cliffs, rocks and of course camels. All was going great until all of a sudden it clouded over, rain started falling and our Jeep broke down! A complete breakdown in the middle of the desert! Mahmoud, our Bedouin guide, tried fixing the truck to no avail. Change in plan. Mahmoud needed to go behind one of the mountains to try and call for help. As we waited for him to return, survival mode kicked in. We found a small inlet in the rocks and the boys returned to their Boy Scout roots to build a fire. I learned, all you need to build a fire in the desert is a good surface, small dry sticks, camel dung, toilet paper and most importantly ... a lighter! Within half hour, the rain had stopped, the fire was going and we were toasting our adventure with a Whisky and Sprite. Just when we were getting comfortable, Mahmoud returned with his friend and a new truck to take us to our camp. Our night in the Bedouin camp was an unforgettable experience, complete with an authentic Bedouin meal, Mahmoud playing the loot, a huge fire and sleeping in a hut that had the hint of camel smell. Priceless!