Surprisingly this is our first post about Petra. We’ve covered quite a bit of the rest of Jordan as you’ve probably seen, but I felt it was time to post something about Petra, especially as tourism to the site continues to grow month over month. The world famous Nabatean city of Petra is, of course, the biggest single draw to Jordan, and rightly so as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This makes Petra a must-see for anyone traveling to the Middle East let alone just to Jordan.
When it comes to dramatic and breathtaking landscapes in Jordan there is nothing greater than those you’ll find in and around Wadi Rum, Jordan. Even if you’ve been to Jordan, but never to the Wadi Rum itself, but have driven from Petra/Ma’an to Aqaba you’ll know exactly what type of landscape I’m talking about.
You might be surprised to read a post with “scuba diving” and “Jordan” in the title, but it’s true, Jordan, a country in the Middle East, has excellent and easily accessible scuba diving! Aqaba, Jordan, nestled between Saudi Arabia and Israel sits ideally at the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, has several kilometers of coastline south of Aqaba (Tala Bay), and with calm waters and year-round high temperatures make Jordan an ideal scuba diving destination.
Bethlehem happens to be only nine kilometers south of Jerusalem, making it a natural and obvious destination to incorporate into your visit to Jerusalem. A trip to Bethlehem not only offers visitors a chance to see one of Christianity’s important historical sites, but also a tiny glimpse into life in the occupied West Bank.
People travel from across the world to witness and explore the numerous religious and historical sites of both Jerusalem and Bethlehem, of which there are enough to fill several days. Since Carrie and I had both previously visited Jerusalem (Bethlehem would be new for us both) we were free to explore beyond the standard tourist trail. Since we’re fans of craft beer and live with a limited offering in Amman, Jordan we explored the area in a way that was less traditional from your typical visit.
Jordan is much more than Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea or even Jerash. In fact, a large swath of eastern Jordan is dotted with several well-preserved castles all easily seen on a day trip from Amman.
We all know so much about Jordan, but how well do we know its capital Amman?
You might be wondering “why would they celebrate Christmas in Jordan?” Well for those who aren’t aware the land that comprises modern day Jordan played an important role in Christianity’s history, much of which is outlined in the Old Testament. As a result Christians have resided in Jordan since the crucifixion of Jesus and continue to do so today.
One of the biggest tasks for our move to Amman, Jordan was preparing our two cats Penny and Lulu for the long trip. In the lead up to our departure many people asked us “Are we going to bring our cats?” which when we said “Yes” was almost always followed-up with “How long would they need to be quarantined?” First, not bringing our beloved kitties was a non-starter for us. If we couldn’t bring them with us we wouldn’t move. End of story. Second, through these conversations and our own research we realized how little most people knew about the process for bringing cats or pets in general overseas.
Mid-morning on day five of our road trip we began our drive up the windy route through the hills toward the historical city of Madaba, where I (Albert) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. With the Dead Sea receding in the distance behind us, my excitement grew. I had been looking forward to returning to Madaba since I left nearly 8 years ago.
After a few days of lounging around in balmy Aqaba we packed our car yet again and drove north to the Dead Sea. Even though Albert and I both lived in Jordan for two years, neither of us had taken the Jordan Valley Highway. This highway spans the length of the country from Aqaba in the south to just near the border with Syria in the north running along the Dead Sea and Jordan River.
After spending a few days in Amman, Albert and I packed up the little Hyundai we rented from Budget and headed to the furthest point south in Jordan, Aqaba. Situated on the Gulf of Aqaba and bordered by Saudi Arabia and Israel, with Egypt off in the horizon, Aqaba has a desert climate and makes a perfect escape in the colder months.
Lebanon is of course so much more than Beirut. If you have the time during your visit we highly recommend you travel outside of the bustling capital. During our recent trip to Lebanon we opted for a guided day trip with Lebanon Tours to Anjar, Baalbek and Chateau Ksara all in the Beqaa Valley.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranks as one of the most difficult countries in the world to travel to because of the immense difficulty in obtaining a visa. Some countries require American passport holders to obtain a visa before traveling, one of which is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia does not make it easy for casual tourism to the Kingdom. Most travelers come during Hajj or for Umrah or work. Outside of those options obtaining a visa can be a very difficult task.