How do you select your future travel destination? What is it that rules over your decision; logic, emotions or intuition? And which one do you trust the most?
The first time I travelled solo, the country I visited was Italy. My journey was controlled by emotions and these emotions satisfied some of my school dreams and evergrowing wanderlust. I was nineteen-years-old when I travelled alone for the first time. Since then most of my travels were realised solo (except the three of them), including my recent journey to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
How I Ended Up in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Throughout my travel life, I have visited seventeen countries and all of them were based in Europe. Those travels were somehow inside my comfort zone. So, I decided to go out of the European borders and experience something that would make shock my senses. My attention focused on Jordan, and this choice was ruled by intuition.
Jordan is a Middle Eastern country bordering Syria, Israel, Palestine and having a maritime boundary with Egypt. Due to its location, being surrounded by the countries stuck in conflicts, I received some warnings from my family and friends to be careful or not to travel at all, but my desire to travel was stronger than the fear. So I risked it all and now I do not regret even for a moment that I visited this inspiring country.
Jordan's Inspirational Spirit and Artistic Heritage
Jordan is a sacred land noted in the Bible. If you seek inspiration and spiritual awakening, this is a place to be.
As mentioned earlier, my voyage to Jordan was a spontaneous one and somehow outside of my comfort zone. What I had in mind was to visit the "City of Mosaics”- Madaba, which is just thirty kilometres away from the capital Amman. When reading a piece of information about Madaba, the city enticed me because of the artistic heritage it preserves. The Umayyad and Byzantine mosaics, and the famous Madaba Mosaic Map at St George's Greek Orthodox Church, portraying a Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, caught my particular attention. The Mosaic Map consists of two million pieces of coloured stone. Can you imagine the grandeur of this work? My encounter with this map happened on my second touring day and I was literally fascinated by the thoroughness of this masterpiece.
Preceding the visit to Madaba, we made a short stop at the Biblical Mount Nebo. This mountain is an important site because this is where the prophet Moses ascended to view the Promised Land.
During the same day, combining leisure and an informative tour, we had a delightful time close to the Dead Sea. Wearing a mug was a first-time experience for me. It was truly funny to see myself and others clothed in this dark thing resembling something similar to "…". I'll leave the “what” up to your imagination.
As you may know, the lowest point in Jordan is the Dead Sea: -408 metres, which is also the lowest point on Earth. Quite impressive! Now, I am proud to have visited the lowest point on Earth (while coming from a high mountainous country). The water temperature is high enough even at the end of October to be able to relax wholeheartedly in the sea. Jordanians say it is even warm in December.
Another funny thing about the Dead Sea was that before my visit to Jordan I saw lots of pictures of people swimming only on their back in the Dead Sea. I was curious to know what lies behind this kind of “tradition”. Then I learned, from the tour guide, that it is suggested to swim only on your back because of the saltiness of the sea. This way it is easier to protect your eyes from the salt.
So, that was my second day in Jordan. However, my trip started this way... I flew to Queen Alia International Airport in Amman through Athens and arrived late at night. Even from the first moments of arrival you may feel inspired, just from the name of the Airport which is named after the Queen.
My first day started with a walking tour through the capital Amman. The tour helped me to see Amman through the eyes of a local. Visiting the local market (the Souk) and spices store, tasting the sweet drink made from sugarcane, and trying out Eastern sweets was a wonderful experience. That, combined with stories about the Roman Theatre, King Hussein Mosque, and Ruins of Nymphaeum- Roman Public Fountain (2nd century A.D.) gave me a feel for the real taste of Jordan.
A very special corner in Amman displaying an Umbrella Art on the so-called Rainbow Stairs was something I truly loved in Amman.
I fell so in love with this heavenly and cosily-made umbrella art that I wanted to go back and admire once more on the last day of my trip, but regrettably I was unable to locate them again. There was always something on the way that caught my eye intriguingly invited me to go further. Other than that, those extravagant street arts constantly grabbed my attention. I had an impression that Jordanians are faithfully inspired by art. For example, this art (below) on the wall, reflecting a Symbol of Unity - male and female blended into one, is amazing.
The Delightful Cuisine of Jordan
Jordan is not merely a place to see. It is a land to feel and taste. Wherever you go, Jordan will awaken your senses, all of them. Literally feeling the taste of Jordan will become possible through delightful Jordanian cuisine. Falafels, Mansaf (national Jordanian dish- something specifically made for special tastes), Knafeh (Oriental Sweet prepared with mozzarella-like cheese, topped with a syrup and rose water) are only a few in the endless list of Jordanian cuisine. Leaving Jordan with a sense of hunger is simply unforgivable.
My Advice for Those Planning on Travelling to Jordan
Do not be scared. It is not as dangerous as it seems from a distance. Visit Jordan and uncover the truth that lies within the essence of a truly inviting and heart-warming country.
A special remark for young ladies travelling solo. Even though Amman and Jordan are safe to travel, be prepared to receive extra attention from the men. For those who are travelling to an Arabic country for the first time, it may feel in some way uncomfortable. Do not worry, soon you will get used to it (within a few days of your stay in Jordan).
Also be prepared physically: those steep streets in Amman may look like real mountains for those coming from the lowlands. Even for me, for an Armenian girl coming from the mountainous country, it was seriously hard to conquer those “hilly streets”. It takes some real physical efforts to climb up those lanes. This is not to stop you from enjoying your walking tour in Amman; just a warning to know in advance.
What I Missed in Jordan and What You Should Not Miss
Madaba Archaeological Museum showcases conjuring pieces of mosaic art, of which the depictions in the courtyard of the museum present a special allure: Mount Nebo, Corinthian and Ionian capitals are elements portrayed in the mosaic.
Petra- archaeological site: People from different corners of the world travel to Jordan to see one of the New Seven Wonders of the World- Petra.
Due to the shortage of time, I missed the chance to see this wonder of the world. But hopefully will go back and visit this site in the nearest future.
Amman Citadel: Frankly said, I did not miss it completely, though I only had a slight look at the Citadel on my last day of travel. It is an important historic site in Amman that has been occupied by Romans.
As you see, my travel to Jordan was indeed like flirting with it. It was as if I said “I would stay and love you, but I have to go. This is my station.” Eventually, I spent only three days in Jordan. These were three fulfilling days that carried me away from reality and made me want to go back over and over again.