Cancelled:(! Well almost. My flight from Dubai to Amman was scheduled for a 5pm departure, however at 4:45pm we were informed of a 10 hour delay due to mechanical issues, with a new depature time of 3am:(. The options given were either a McDonald's voucher, or to go back through immigration and leave the airport/go back home. I chose the latter.
Breakfast soon after our 3:45am departure from Dubai. With the 10+ hour delay, it was looking increasingly unlikely that I would get to make the 6:30am bus to Petra I had booked:(.
The A320 that gave us all the grief. The local time in Jordan I was supposed arrive according to three different sources (Kayak.com, Google & my iPad) all said a 6am arrival, and way too late for the Petra bus. Fortunately all three sources were wrong though:)! The local time on the IFE said it was a 5am on arrival, and as it gave me a tiny chance to make the Petra bus, I was inclined the believe that instead :).
After speedwalking to the ATM, getting some dinar for my visa, and anxiously waiting for my passport to be stamped, I grabbed a taxi and was on my way to Amman in less than 30 minutes later:).
After the 40 minute ride into town, I made it to the JETT bus station, pay for my ticket with only minutes to spare:).
Climbing aboard the JETT bus for the 3.5 hour ride to Petra. A return ticket was only 19 dinar ($US27), so a cheap way to make the journey south.
Crossing over Wadi Abdoun Bridge on the way out of Amman.
At the Midway Castle rest stop, half-way between Amman & Petra.
A chance to grab a souvenir or two too:).
The Desert Highway had a lot of trucks travelling between Amman and the countries only port at Aqaba.
Just after 10am, we made it to Wadi Musa, paid the 50 dinar entry ($US70!), and walked down to the 'Treasury'.
No sign of Indiana Jones, but certainly lots of other tourists:D. The treasury is named after the legend that treasure was hidden in a stone urn on the second level. You can also see bullet marks where someone has attempted to 'shoot it out':D.
Some of the caves & warrens carved into the hillside.
The 'Monstery', a 800 step climb up the mountain.
And the obligatory holiday 'selfie':).
After arriving just after 10am, I walked out at 3:30pm to catch the 4pm return bus back to Amman.
Back at the Midway Castle:).
Getting a Shawarma for dinner back in Amman for 1.25 dinar ($US1.75).
The bedroom at the appartment in Abdali, Amman. $55 a night and pity I only stayed one night after missing the first from the delayed arrival.
Up before dawn on day 2 to grab some breakfast from a corner shop...
...and catch the JETT bus again, this time for the 7am departure to King Hussein Bridge at the border with Israel.
After going through Jordanian customs, with my exit slip and 7 dinar bus ticket for the 2k ride through no mans land.
On the other side of the Israeli border post with my Israeli visa and some newly changed shekels. I was abit nervous about going through Israeli immigration, especially with my Yemen & Afghanistan visa's, but it wasn't too bad. After going through the X-rays, metal detectors, initial questioning etc., I had to sit and wait for a second interview, but the questions were pretty routine (why did you go to Afghanisan, why have you visited all these middle eastern countries etc.), and total time from was start to finish was 1.5 hours.
At a road check point, with a separation barrier from a Palestinian town. The road from the Allenby / King Hussein border crossing goes right through the West Bank. A soldier came onboard and a couple of ladies wearing headscarves must have known the routine, as they immediately pulled out their ID cards. No checks were made on anyone else though.
At the guesthouse where I was staying in Jerusalem. It was the top pick in the Lonelyplanet guide book, and right in the old city so was in a great location.
After checking in, I headed out into the Muslim quarter of the old city for a Shawarma for lunch for 35 shekels ($US10).
Outside the walls of the old city.
At the colourful Mahane Yehuda Market:). The market had a mixture of Muslim & Jewish stalls, and was a great place to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere:).
Some yummy looking halva for sale:).
And lots of varieties of bread:).
Christ, back in the old city.
I then walked down to find the bus company for the return journey to Allenby, quite hard to find as it is down the alley:).
Damascus Gate, the main entrance into the Muslim quarter in the old city.
Fresh pomengrate & orange juice:).
In the many warrens of shops in the Muslim quarter.
At the Western Wall, one of the most sacred sites of Judaism.
A Palestinian neighbourhood in the Kidron Valley.
At Zion gate, one of the entrances to the old city to the Jewish quarter. Significant damage from the 1948 war is clearly visible around the gate.
Giving mum the run around:D.
A plaza in the Jewish quarter. Unlike the rest of the old city, the Jewish quarter is relatively modern, spacious & residiential. This is because it was heavily shelled during the 1948 war, and later bulldozed by the Jordanians.
Walking back up to Jaffa Gate.
Some Chicken Kebab, hummus & pita bread for dinner for 60 shekels ($US17):).
After unsuccessfully queueing up for the Temple Mount, I went for a walk on the morning of day 3 to the Mount of Olives. The Church of Mary Magdalene on the right and Church of All Nations on the left.
The beautiful interior of the Church of All Nations.
And in the Church of Mary Magdalene.
Looking out from the Rehav'am lookout on the Mount of Olives onto the Temple Mount and old city. Al-Aqsa Mosque middle left, the third most holiest site in Islam, and the (Gold) Dome of the Rock to the right.
At the Chapel of Ascension, where Jesus ascended to heaven.
Orthodox Jews praying at a cemetery on the Mount of Olives, with the old city in the background.
A bar mitzvah underway, with everyone joining in:D.
Prayer's at King David's Tomb, Mount Zion.
The sun beginning to set at the Tower of David.
Looking over the old city with the (gold) Dome of the Rock on upper right, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the top middle left.
Prayers at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church is at the location where Jesus was crucified, and one of the most important places for pilgrimage for Christians.
The main dome and below, the Aedicule which contains the Holy Sepulchre itself.
Due to rivalries between different Christian factions, the keys to the church are kept by a local Muslim family, who open and close the church each day:).
Getting a burger in the Jewish quarter. The lady on the right had a strong New York accent and was busy giving orders for the different burgers for the small army of kids she was looking after:).
Got up at 3:30am on the morning of day 4 to catch a mini-bus for the 1.5 hour drive to Masada. Arrived at 5:30am, and then walked up the 450 metres in the dark up this windy trail:).
Masada is an ancient fortification in Southern Israel situated on top of a rocky plateau. From 73-74 AD, the Romans laid siege to the Jewish people living there. After holding out for almost a year, the people committed suicide rather than be enslaved by the Romans.
The beautiful sunrise over the Jordan mountains, with the Dead sea just to the left.
The Star of David on the Israeli flag in the early morning sun at Masada.
We then went to Ein Gedi, and saw some wild Ibex doing some tree climbing.
And then walked up to David Falls.
And further up to get a good view of the Dead sea.
We then drove along the coast of the Dead sea, crossing over into the West Bank.
And stopped for a swim:).
I initially thought the hype about being able to float was overblown, but after jumping it was literally like floating on a sun lounger! Tried to do some breaststroke too, but it was literally impossible as your legs just stick out into the air:).
Got back to Jerusalem at about 1:30pm. It was Friday afternoon, and with Shabbat only hours away, I walked down Jaffa Road and had some pizza at a cafe for 39 shekels ($US11).
Definitely no 'ham' burgers here:D.
Some cool looking Kippa's:).
As the shops were close to closing for Shabbat, the markets were literally a mad rush:)!
Some final souvenir shopping for my last night in Jerusalem:).
Up early again on day 5 to catch the mini-bus to Allenby / King Hussein Border Crossing.
Back on the bus for the journey through no mans land after paying the 182 shekel ($US52) exit tax. The Allenby / King Hussein border crossing is unique as Israeli citizens are not allowed to use it. Palestinians in the West Bank are not allowed to travel via Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, so have to travel via Allenby / King Hussein to Queen Alia Airport in Amman for international flights. It is also the only land border where Jordan don't stamp your passport, so handy for avoiding any evidence of a trip to Israel.
Catching a taxi to Amman. I shared the cab with a Canadian girl I met at the border. She was working at a Syrian Refugee camp as a Pharmacist for Médecins Sans Frontières, and had some interesting stories to tell, as well as about her time working in Pakistan.
At the Citadel in downtown Amman. I had 6-7 hours to kill before my flight back to Dubai, so did the walking tour recommended in the Lonelyplant guidebook.
Looking down at the houses.
At the Roman Theatre.
Looking over the forum, a newly rebuilt plaza, from the top of the Theatre.
At the Fruit & Vege souq.
Hashem Restaurant, the oldest in Amman and very popular with the locals, and King Abdullah:).
After 3 hours of walking, I headed up to the famed Al-Rainbow Street for a late lunch:).
I had a few dinars left, so bought some yummy arabic sweets, made of jelly & pistachio nuts, & covered with flower petals:).
At a kunafa (arabic dessert) shop, with a queue around the block:)!
One last photo before heading off to the airport.
Catching a taxi to the airport. I had a happy Palestinian guy, who cranked up the volume for some arabic pop songs and got carried away with a bit of singing:)!
At Queen Alia Internartional Airport, with the portraits of the late King Hussein, King Abdullah, and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah. Never thought I'd say this about an airport terminal, but it was very elegant, beautiful and also very functional:). It opened in March 2013, and was designed by Foster + Partners, the same architects used for the 'Gherkin' in London.
About to board the Royal Jordanian A330 back to Dubai, and on time too:)!