We managed to arrive safely in Amman, Jordan, without me freaking out too much on the plane on the way there (for someone who loves travelling, being scared of flying is a slight problem) and headed to our hotel. For the first night of our trip we were staying in the Marriot Hotel which was luuuuush. My so-called single room was in fact huge and had a king-size bed in it. As soon as I walked through the door I made a resolution that if the rest of our hotels were like this then I’d sleep in a starfish position for the rest of the trip.
The next day started with a huge buffet. I mean seriously HUGE. There were sections for pastries, cooked breakfast, cereals, fruit, yoghurt, porridge and then a more traditional Jordanian section of hummus, labeneh, olives, falafel, foul etc. I of course went for the Jordanian option and had a bit of everything on offer. Having hummus and falafel at 9 in the morning I could handle but I’m not so sure about the foul. Foul is essentially mushed up Fava beans to which you can add various herbs and spices. I went for the olive oil, coriander and chilli sauce combination. I’m glad I tried it but I didn’t opt for it again for the rest of the trip.
We met our driver and set off for Madaba and Mount Nebo to go and see the famous mosaics. Mount Nebo is said to be the place from where Mosez looked out and saw the promised land. The mosaic I found the most impressive was the map of the holy lands which was discovered in the Saint George church in 1884 during the construction of a Greek Orthodox church. It dates back to the 6th century and it was hard to get my head around the fact I was standing next to something that someone stood on around 1500 years ago.
“The Madaba mosaic map is unique and is the best known example of Byzantine cartography.”
After Mount Nebo we started off along the Kings’ Highway. What an amazing route! This route was extremely important for the ancient Middle East and has also been used as a pilgrimage route for Christians as it passes many important sites such as Mount Nebo. Along this route we visited Umm er-Rasas, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the site of 16 ruined churches. Although it may only look like some rubble and falling down walls, I found this site so interesting as all of the churches were below ground level so you could see how either the wind had blown the sand over them or they had manually been covered up. This is clearly a big excavation project and there is currently only 1 church that appears to have had any work done, the church of St Stephen. In this church nearly the entire floor is covered in a mosaic picture. I couldn’t help thinking that modern churches could learn a thing or two from this. One church I found particularly fascinating had plastic sheeting on the floor with sand covering it. However, brushing the sand away revealed more ancient mosaics and we were just casually standing on them. I still don’t understand how this was allowed but it was pretty cool so I’m not complaining!
After this we made our way to Petra, driving through Wadi Mujib. Winding our way up and down the mountain sides we were presented with absolutely stunning views which we made the most of by stopping at a viewpoint to take it all in. We then stopped at a restaurant which looked out across Wadi Mujib gorge. We couldn’t have asked for a better location and having finished our plates we found ourselves sat staring out at the view in front of us not wanting to move. However, knowing that once we got in the car Petra would be our next stop made it that little bit easier for us to tear ourselves away.