Updated: May 20, 2020
By Ron & Simone Ollier (Canterbury Support Group)
We recently went on a “Bucket List” trip to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, to see our son who has been working out there since the beginning of November. In the 3 weeks notice we gave him of our intending visit, he arranged the most wonderful holiday we could have ever imagined.
We arrived at Queen Alia International Airport (Amman) at 10pm on the Monday night, and to his apartment in Amman by about 11.30pm. We were out again by 7am the next morning for what can only be described as a whirlwind holiday.
We started by visiting the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ on the bank of the River Jordan, the first of many amazing sites we were to see. People are still baptised there to this day as we were to see. We stayed there walking the quite large site for a couple of hours and then set off again to visit the Dead Sea, the lowest sea in the world, being 481metres below the sea level of the Mediterranean Sea. We did have a little paddle in the Dead Sea but it was unusually cold and windy. There were a couple of brave people in the water, which was very interesting to watch as they were very high in the water.
We then set of on our travels again, this time to visit the southern city of Aqaba through the desert for hours and hours on dead straight roads. There is a surprising amount of life going on at the side of the desert roads from little shanty dwellings to quite plush shops selling loads of souvenirs to willing foreign visitors. We had a meal in Aqaba and then set off back in a northerly direction until we reached our destination for the first night. Wadi Rum (Wadi meaning valley in Arabic). This was to be so surprising in the middle of the desert surrounded by mountains. We arrived at Camp Aladdin and by 4x4 as it is inaccessible to cars. We were shown to our tent which was a site to see. Built like a yurt and had a big plastic sightseeing window, it also sported full air conditioning and a built in shower, it was truly amazing. Our meal was to be at 7pm and was a traditional Arabic meal. It was cooked underground in a big metal drum and covered in sand until ready, when it was uncovered there was a big cheer from all as the food was lifted out. It was mainly Lamb and Chicken with lots of other side dishes in a buffet style. A little later it was served to the whole site and we ate it in a traditional tent completely lined with red and black patterned blankets. It was truly wonderful.
The next day kicked off at 6.30am for breakfast, again Arabic comprising of fruit cheeses and omelettes with tea or coffee. Then off we go in the back of a 4x4 around Wadi Rum to see some of the wonderful scenery and visit another tent to have some Arabic tea and be sold more gifts. We also bought the traditional Arabic squares to wear on our heads, which they tied for us. We will never manage to put them on like that again, but the photos were worth it. We were then taken in the 4x4’s around the desert again where we were shown some of the locations for the 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia” and were met after that by our next experience, Camels. We mounted these Camels in a somewhat ungainly manner but managed to stay on for a half hour ride. We were led through the desert at a nice walking pace by our camel driver. Very strange sensation on a camel but wouldn’t have missed it for the world. After an even more ungainly dismount we left Wadi Rum to travel further north to the ancient city of Petra where some of the 1981 film “Raiders of the lost Ark” was filmed. We took a ride down to the city in a horse drawn carriage as my shortness of breath would have made the 1 km distance too much. The carriage ride was fast and a little scary, but fun. To see a complete temple carved out of a rock face was amazing. The rocks were very high and overpowering. We managed to walk a little of the way through the site where there were more street traders selling lots of wonderful gifts. We were supposed to spend about 3 hours there but it turned out to be about 4 hours. After a short drive we had a meal in the newer part of Petra before driving the remaining 225km back to Amman and our sons apartment for a well earned rest.
The next day we had a little later start and visited the city of Amman, the capital of Jordan. This city is huge and built on seven hills. The culture is very different to ours. We spent all day “Ubering” about as I would never have been able to manage the hills. We went to the old town where tourists don’t normally go which was very interesting especially the street markets and some of the wonderful fruit and veg they were selling.
The last day our son took us to Jarash to visit the Roman ruins of the Great Temple of Zeus and the large site of surrounding Roman buildings. This site is great to explore as most of it is accessible and not roped off. We finished up on the Friday night at a traditional Jordanian Restaurant where we enjoyed some Jordanian cuisine.
Early hours of Saturday morning we were picked up for the journey home, which we did in style. “Club World”, now we can’t travel economy any more...
Sadly, Ron passed away since writing the article,
but he leaves us inspired and encouraged
to plan our own bucket list adventure.