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Madaba – the city of mosaics

I had half a day left in the Amman area, before I wanted to take a bus to Wadi Musa/Petra. Originally, I had wanted to spend the day taking a tour from Amman to Wadi Musa, which would stop along the way at various castles, view points, national parks etc. Unfortunately though, I was not able to find anyone to join in the hostel, and the price was just too expensive to pay by myself. So I opted to visit Madaba instead – which was a bit of an organizational hassle, but well! I took a taxi to the bus station, then a bus to Madaba, same thing back, back to hostel to pick up my luggage. Then another taxi to the same bus station where I had arrived before…only to wait again for the bus to Petra to fill up and get going. Backpacker life!

Thinking back of Jordan, I see Madaba as the place I would decide to skip if I had to choose one. I spent about 2-3 h walking around town and visiting each and every mosaic that there is (and there are a lot!). I would say by the end I was a bit mosaiced-out!

I also climbed up a church tower from which I had a nice view over the city. Actually I think I preferred the view over all the mosaics and churches themselves 😉 But that’s how it goes with travelling. Some places excite you more than you anticipate, some places disappoint you a bit.

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Jerash & Ajloun – a day trip from Amman

There are many interesting sights and cities located in a 1-2 h radius around Amman, however only some of them can be visited easily on public transport – among which Jerash and Ajloun. Since I always like to see Roman ruins and Ajloun seemed like an easy addition, my plan for the day was clear! I started the day together with Monica who I had met in my hostel. Together we took a taxi to the bus station where we were lucky that the bus to Jerash was almost full already and left rather quickly (think: 20 min waiting time). After about 1,5 drive, we reached Jerash and hopped off the bus close to the entrance to the ruins.

The next couple of hours were spent exploring the ruins, an area bigger than I had expected. I’m not much into reading signboards so I cannot tell you much about the history, but it certainly was an impressive site to visit. I especially liked the many intact columns. It was a bit misty that day, so taking pictures was tricky, but at least the sun was not burning down as much.

Afterwards, I decided to continue to Ajloun by myself. I met a policemen who got me on a shared car which dropped me all the way at the top of Ajloun – at the entrance to the castle. For free! Jordanian hospitality. The castle itself was nice to see from the bottom, and the views were cool – but it was not that impressive to be honest. I was also getting a bit tired of the constant selfie requests from school kids around me (the castle was teeming with school classes!!), and it was difficult to find a quiet corner in between.

So after walking through all the rooms in the castle, and taking in the views, I walked back down to the village of Ajloun and hopped on the bus back to Amman. Unfortunately, the way back took muuuuch longer: first I had to wait for about 1 h for the bus to fill up, and then we got stuck in Amman rush hour traffic for a long time. Also, I had to take a shared taxi back to the city center which again got stuck in traffic, and still walk a while to reach my hostel. A longer day trip than expected, but a good one overall!

Welcome to Jordan, welcome to Amman

Most people travel to Jordan from Israel overland, but I had to take a flight in order to avoid the Jordanian entry stamp, basically showing that I had been to Israel before, in order to still be allowed into Lebanon and UAE the next few weeks and months. So I took a rather annoying (but cheap) flight with Aegean airlines via Athens and arrived in Amman in the middle of the night. As tiring as this trip was – I was very glad to in the end arrive in Jordan, where on my first walk around Amman I was greeted by friendly locals with a „welcome to Jordan“ everywhere I went. Yes, I felt very welcome here from the beginning!

After catching up on some sleep, I decided to explore Amman – heading to the ruins of the Roman theater first. The theater is really quite impressive, even after having seen quite a few of these in the past. There were lots of school kids around – I guess on excursion from school – who all wanted selfies with me. Entertaining and fun at first, a little tiring after a while! This is something I should experience a lot over the first days in Amman and its surroundings.

From the theater, I made my way up to the citadel on the hill – a bit of a climb but well worth it for the views over the city! I spent some time exploring the ruins and taking in the views in all directions before heading back down to the famous restaurant Hashem’s, where I was meeting Bryn, an American girl who I knew from Utila, Honduras back in 2012. It was fun catching up and we stuffed ourselves with delicious hummus, falafel and other things – Hashem’s is hereby definitely recommended! 🙂

I also visited the biggest mosque of the city – the Grand Husseini Mosque and walked through the markets and little streets of Amman. While Amman is not an easy city for pedestrians (lots of hills, not many side-walks), I really liked how you would find cool street art and cute little cafes everywhere. Certainly worth spending a day or two here!