We are not regular organised tour people but when the time is limited and the county a bit if an unknown in terms of safely getting around, I think it is an acceptable way to go. I often think that it would be better to travel independently if you have the time, as you definitely get to absorb the culture to a greater degree. That said, its nice at the end of a long trip not to have to think about logistics of getting around. From our experiences so far the roads in Israel and Jordan would be relatively easy to drive on. The cities of course can get chaotic with traffic but you can always organise around this.
This morning we meet our guide for our stay in Jordan. Riad is an experienced guide. He comes from a small village, where he informs us that baby making is the main occupation. He is one of 12 and he has 7 children of his own! He is a proud Jordanian, happy that his country is seen as a stable oasis in troubled lands. Jordan, he tells us, have always welcomed refugees ever since the 1948 formation of Israel, which displaced many Palestinians right through to the current crisis in Syria. We see some of the refugee camps that are not pretty, but the alternatives could be far worse.
We also meet two Aussies, Larry and Yolie who join us on this tour. They are a retired couple ‘spending the kids inheritance’. They are on an extensive 3 month trip through Europe and Asia. They are fortunate to have a son who is an Emirates pilot, so they can get 10% fares as long as they hub through Dubai, where their son is based …. not a real hardship! It didn’t take long to identify some commonalities. They are from Sydney, near where we live; they used to work in Information Technology, as I did; they both have completed MBAs in later life at UTS and Yolie is now studying Ancient History at Macquarie, where I have attended as well; Larry is a keen fisherman like Gary. No doubt we will find more points of commonality over the coming week….and perhaps if we are lucky, some common connections.
Our first stop is in the northern city of Jerash, a Roman city with ruins and remains that surprise us with their extensiveness and completeness. Its easy for us to draw comparisons with more celebrated sites like Pompeii in Italy and Ephesus in Turkey….yet we had never heard of Jerash ….it is clearly understated. We are fortunate to be able to visit on a clear day with very few fellow tourists. Riad informs us that the tourist industry in Jordan is experiencing a dramatic slowdown, due to the Syrian crisis. As with other countries in the area, tourism is a key industry. So its nice to think that we Aussies are doing our bit as courageous (or perhaps stupid) tourists in troubled times.
|Jerash Theatre ... the acoustice were unbelievable.|
|Geoff and Noelen try out the phone system ... built to Archiemedes design!|
|Hadrian's Arch ...doesn't he have a wall somewhere as well:)|
|Can you believe this... an early Roman roundabout. I could just visualise chariots|
going around 11 abreast...avoiding some that have decided to park there :)
|Main street Jerash ... those aren't parking metres, but I suspect at the time|
you would have found a few chariots illegally parked.
|water bottle collapsing under pressure|
The girls are keen to do the mud bath, until they find that its basically taking mud from a common bucket and coating yourself. Looks pretty messy so they change their minds and we just float around. I don the video glasses again so you can view an extract here..... Gary makes a new friend, and Geoff, the Armenian Messiah performs a thong resurrection miracle.
|Lyn floating by....|
|Girls decided to pass on the mud bath after seeing this...|
|Heard someone mention "Genghis Khan" when I was trying on this hat!|