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Family trip to Jordan: huge success

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I'll keep this brief, although I'm disappointed that there aren't more posts about Jordan, so if anyone wants more information please post in response.

We are a family of four (two boys aged 9 and 6) living in the UAE. We took advantage of the Eid holiday at the end of Ramadan to take a trip to Jordan for five days. We had it well planned, and eventually ended up doing everything we planned but not quite in the order we had planned it.

Day 1: Arrived night before in Amman, stayed at Le Meridien, very nice and good price, although some distance out of the centre of town so limited dining options nearby. On Day 1 we hired a taxi and spent the morning at the Citadel exploring the ruins (Uumyaad era). Kids had a great time climbing, jumping, poking around etc. Only down side was that the museum on site was closed due to Eid. On the whole the site is not well signed, and a little scruffy. We then wanted to visit the Roman Theatre and the art museum that includes as part of it's complex the house where TE Lawrence wrote The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but both were closed, so we opted to have our taxi driver take us to Madaba to see some of the mosaics. Again, some of the mosaic places were closed but we saw the mosaic map of the Holy Land at the Greek Orthodox Church (fantastic) and ate a good and reasonably priced restaurant right across the street.

Then travelled onto Mt Nebo, where Moses looked out across the Promised Land. This was a really simple and lovely site, with some fantastic mosaics and great views although the sky was a little hazy.

Day 2: Went by taxi back to the Airport and collected a rental car then drove to Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan to see the site along the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Again, this was a simple and lovely site, although the whole excursion took well over an hour by the time we parked at the visitors centre, took an open air truck down to the river through several military checkpoints (the River is effectively a militarised zone because it marks the Israeli border), walked along a gravel path (1-2kms in length I would say) and saw the excavated baptism pool and then the River itself (now a mere 4-5m wide and very murky: only 10% of the flow now reaches the Dead Sea) and went by truck back to the starting point. The biggest disappointment on this excursion was the visitors plaza. The toilets were located some distance away from the souvenir shops and were amongst the most disgusting public toilets I have ever encountered. I could not believe that at such an important tourist attraction they had been allowed to get into such a state. Unfortunately this experience turned out to be a common one in Jordan and it's something they need to address.

Anyway, we really enjoyed experiencing the site. We then drove onto the Dead Sea resort area and checked into the Mariott, had lunch and then set off up the new road the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex (amazing views but again, a little hazy) and on down the King's Highway to Machaerus, a small village in the middle of nowhere. When the road runs out, you drive down a track to a parking area and then climb a magnificent conical shaped hill and behold ... the ruins of Herod's Palace, where Salome danced and demanded the head of John the Baptist. This was in fact one of the real highlights of the trip: it was completely deserted and silent, and we got there about an hour before sunset so we stayed and had the most fantastic view.

The day was later marred by a flat tire on the road back to the Dead Sea (very dark, tire changed by the light of my cellphone with anxious children looking on) but all in all a very memorable day.

Day 3: floating in the Dead Sea and chariot races at Jerash ....Stay tuned.

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