We had more exploring today and our first stop was the small town of Madaba, a typical East Bank town which has one major surprise; underneath almost every house lies a fine Byzantine mosaic. Many have been excavated and are on display in the town’s many museums but it is estimated that many more lie hidden.

Madaba’s chief attraction, in the contemporary Greek Orthodox church of St. George, is a 6th-century Byzantine mosaic map showing the entire region from Jordan and Palestine in the north, to Egypt in the south. What was most striking to us was the depiction of the Jordan River, with boats sailing into the Dead Sea and bridges crossing from the East and West banks and large fish jumping out of the river; so very different from what we saw yesterday. The church was, like the Russian Orthodox Church yesterday, brightly painted with many murals of St George.

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Moses and John

Today was an odd mix of contrast and contemplation for us coupled with a bit of pampering. We enjoyed a leisurely morning, there was no need to rush today so we had a late breakfast; all our visits are not too far from the Dead Sea so we could take our time.

First we headed into the Abarim mountains in search of Mount Nebo. Considered a most holy place, this is where Moses was finally granted sight of the Promised Land before his death; it is also said that it is within these lands where he was subsequently buried. As such, the site is of great importance to many faiths.

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The following few days of our visit to Jordan we’ll be more tourists and less hikers. We’re heading south and we started our journey with a visit to Aljoun. our destination today is the Dead Sea and Aljoun Castle was en-route. We’d read good things about the area so decided to pay a visit.

Standing 1250 meters above sea level this 12th Century fortress was built under the rule of the sultan Saladin. The castle is set on top of Mount ‘Auf and provides fabulous views of the Jordan Valley, indeed as a military fortress the views were key to its existence, providing excellent sight of invading crusaders.

We followed Google’s direction and drove up and up out of town. Our Hire Car is tiny. Gerry calls it a rollerskate and today it was tested to the limit with some of the steep hills and sharp bends. But whilst we trundled along in 1st and 2nd gear we counted our blessings that we weren’t having to walk.

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Umm Qais

Wow what a day we’ve had!

Last night our chicken dinner was wonderful. After we’d eaten, the man of the house brought us tea in the lounge. We stayed up late talking about war and peace and ancient history. He had been a colonel in the Jordanian army but had hated it; his father had decreed that he would be a soldier and so for 20 years he was. When his father died he changed career and became an interior designer.

After breakfast this morning we returned to Pella where we had booked a walking tour of the hills around Pella. We were to meet our guide Samur. Our instructions had said that we were to meet at the house above The Visitor Centre. So we drove up and parked and the door was open. A lady led us to the garden and asked if we wanted coffee. She called a man and he welcomed us and he said he was Samur. We drank coffee and waited for him to return. After 30 minutes we asked when we would start our hike. No hike he said and looked confused. I took out the email and he looked, shook his head and pointed to the next house along. We entered the wrong house but nonetheless they gave us coffee.

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We said goodbye to Amman today. There was so much that we never got to see of the city but I guess that means we’ll need to return one day. We took a taxi back to the airport where we were met by a gentleman from the Monte Carlo car hire company. We had decided that the best way to explore Jordan was to hire a car and this local company had 1000’s of 5* reviews and so we booked. It would be reasonable to say that it was with a fair amount of trepidation that we drove away in the direction of Pella in the north of Jordan.

I had organised for us to have a 2 hour archaeological tour of the ancient site of Pella, it was booked for 3 o’clock and we made good time arriving 20 minutes early.

We had opted to drive off the highway and on the quieter roads to Pella, with hindsight that probably wasn’t the wisest choice but we did get to see a lot of rural Jordan and there was much excitement as we drove by the Dead Sea junction… but that little gem will have to wait a few more days because we were heading north.

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Finally… We Made it!

The idea for this trip was formed in 2019. We wanted to travel somewhere in February that would be warm. We looked at a range of different countries but in the end history and culture and majestic nature won us over… Jordan would be our winter holiday in 2020. But in 2020 we decided that instead we’d have a family holiday closer to home, the kids had planned their worldwide travel and it could be the last time in a few years that we’d all get together… so Jordan was postponed. However, we had a glorious family holiday in southern Spain and little did we know at the time that it would be the last time we would ever all be together again.

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