Jordan is an incredibly alluring travel destination. It’s a nice little country — in a rough neighbourhood, and it looked like things might get rougher, so it was with a ‘now or never’ attitude I booked a trip.
Landing in the capital city of Amman can spark culture shock. Yet Jordan is fairly progressive and very welcoming, as Middle Eastern countries go. Arriving a day early allowed time to recover from jet lag and take in a few sights— such as the National Gallery of Fine Art and the colourful tourist area known as Rainbow Street.
The following morning our tour began with an exploration of Jerash. This sprawling complex of Roman ruins is an architectural delight. One enters through Hadrian’s Gate and walks back through time along chariot-scarred, colonnaded avenues. Highlights include the hippodrome, theatres, and the grand temples of Zeus and Artemus.
On day two, we hit the road to Wadi Rum. This wild terrain has served as the setting for many films, including Lawrence of Arabia. Upon arrival we jumped into the back of pickups and 4-wheeled our way through the desert, stopping to scale a colossal sand dune and behold the stunning vista atop. Camels were our next rather questionable mode of transportation — what fun to explore this unique landscape of dunes and sandstone cliffs from such a precarious vantage point.
Our following destination was the piéce de résistance — the ancient rose-coloured city of Petra. This UNESCO site is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. As I emerged from the trek through the narrow gorge and caught my first glimpse of the iconic Treasury, brilliantly illuminated by the noon sun, tears filled my eyes. The beauty of this ornately carved, sandstone temple is overwhelming!
Once I regained my composure I was off on my next mission. I scurried through the honeycombed valley, dotted by enticing tombs, to the basin, where the ascent to the secluded Monastery begins. My guide insisted this hike was impossible due to time limitations and the level of physical fitness required. I checked the time. I’d eaten a hearty breakfast, was running on adrenaline and will admit, I have a decidedly stubborn nature. So like any journey, it began with a single step. Taking a deep breath I set forth up the 850 steeply worn, misshapen steps to the lofty site. My difficult task was tempered by the occasional donkey squeezing past and little shops hugging the cliffs with vendors hawking tempting souvenirs. Feeling both relief and triumph, I finally reached the summit to marvel at this equally impressive tomb. The Monastery was built in the 1st century by the Nabateans, a group of nomadic Arab people. Its towering facade measures 45 metres high by 50 metres wide.
Despite my physical imitations and age, rising to this challenge rewarded me with a grand adventure. It seems I’m always attracted to these ‘Shangri-La’ like places. My friends even tease me, calling me ‘Indiana Nan’. (Ironically the Indiana Jones movie was filmed at Petra.)
My Jordanian escape ended at The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.As I coated myself with therapeutic mud and floated in the insanely salty water, it struck me, this was the perfect way to end my journey.
I was so fortunate to squeak this trip in. Upon my return COVID completely shut down the travel industry. Dear readers, I have a confession. Although I am a happily divorced woman, I long to walk down the aisle again — and hear those romantic words, “This is your captain speaking...”