Known as the city of a thousand columns, Jerash truly impressed us. It costs 8JD to get in per person which was pretty expensive considering most other places were just 1JD except Petra of course but by the end of it, we both thought it was well worth it.
Jerash truly reminded me of Ephesus in Turkey near Troy where we saw a Bollywood movie being filmed.
About 1km from the entrance, we saw the round square which was lined with columns around its perimeter, the same one I’ve been seeing in postcards and brochures, somewhat similar to the main square in the Vatican City. I saw an amphitheater in the distance but it was high up a hill so we decided to head towards the museum in the opposite direction.
The more we walked the more we realized that Jerash was truly the city of a thousand columns.
I loved the intricate designs on the massive stones and one I particularly liked was that of the shape of a seashell above one of the balconies. Before I knew it, I’d already taken 300 pictures at our third and last UNESCO site in Jordan.
Papa led the way towards a semi circular shaped building and once we got in we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw; the most beautiful amphitheater ever. A much smaller one than the one I saw earlier on the hills, more intricate, more designs, just simply gorgeous.
Once again like when we were in Petra, we were probably the first people to visit Jerash for the day, hence escaping the heat as we left and witnessed the area we passed earlier really packed with tourists on the way back to the car park.
Heading back to Amman, Mohamed stopped at some station to ask his friends to explain to us in English that there was no point going to the Israeli embassy because we can definitely get the visa for Israel at the border at the King Hussein Bridge. So we decided to miss the embassy and headed for Madaba.
Madaba is famous for the Greek Orthodox Church which is filled with mosaics. The mosaics in the church however weren’t the normal ones but looked cheap for some reason. It was quite bizarre to see the mosaics of Jesus and crosses with Arabic letters beneath them. We weren’t there for long, probably 5 minutes and then headed for our next destination Jabal Nebo.
We both didn’t have a clue what was there and were surprised to find the sign Jabal Nebo, Memorial of Moses.
According to the bible, Prophet Moses climbed this mountain at the end of his life to see the Promised Land.
The view from the top of the mountain which was only 800m above sea level was spectacular.
Somewhere in the distance were Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Jericho. I couldn’t really see anything but just sand and more desert.
We left Jabal Nebo and headed for al-Maghtas also known as Bethany where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. Along the way we saw a lot of military trucks and very cute fake cable cars with white wheels.
I was very happy to find out that the 7JD we had to pay to enter Bethany included a local guide and transport to the area. We were driven 7km into the military area and had to walk for the next 30 minutes or so.
We saw the Jordan River which is now about 5m wide but was about 25m wide in the 60s, 60m wide during Jesus’ time and 100m wide also back then when there was a flood. We were told that beyond the trees about 3km away was Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world which is in the West Bank, Palestine.
We walked a bit more and came to the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The Jordan River no longer flows there. It was very dry which made it somewhat a disappointment.
We were told that 3 churches were built in the area to mark the importance and sacredness of the site. Only one still stands (the biggest) while the other two (St. John the Baptist’s church and the smallest church which just had 4 pillars right above where it was thought that Jesus was baptized which had the river flowing as its floor) were destroyed a long time ago.
We then walked some more towards the new St. John the Baptist’s church, a Greek Orthodox Church sponsored by a rich Greek which had golden domes that was sponsored by some other rich person and towards the Jordan River where some people actually took off their shoes and dipped their feet in the river.
Following the visit to the very sacred site of Bethany, Mohammed drove us to the Dead Sea, the one place I’ve longed to be at, to float away at since I knew of its existence.
I always imagined the Dead Sea to be dark and gloomy yet cool as you can’t sink but it was beautiful.
The water was very clear; at least the first few meters and it actually had different shades of blue and green. It wasn’t very easy walking into the sea because there were a lot of rocks and salt rocks as well. The water was cold and I had to force myself to dip my whole body in it. Papa was the one who first tried floating and it was a lot of fun.
At one point a whole bunch of us were floating away together bobbing up and down as if we had those floating chairs people have in the swimming pools with us. I didn’t want to get any of the water on my face because I knew it would sting. Of course I was right.
About 5 minutes later, I couldn’t stand it anymore and decided to get out. Papa who had water on his face from the start was ready to leave as well. I decided I didn’t want to ta’am (eat) at the Dead Sea since I wanted shawarma and falafel so we headed back straight to Amman.
Dinner was a whole roasted chicken with chips, hummus and falafel and we got about 10 pieces of bread with that for only 10JD which was really cheap. The falafel was so good and there were probably 20 of them which cost nothing whereas in Oxford, it costs 2pounds for 3 little miserable, horrible tasting falafel balls.