Tuesday 13th October
This morning is Maureens birthday so up nice and early and wished her a Happy Birthday as we sat down to breakfast. Had yet another beautiful breakfast of omelette and hommus, babaganouche, labeneh balls and lots of fresh vegies.
Our driver Raed picked us up promptly at 8 for the drive south towards Petra with a few stops on the way First stop was a Mount Nebo which was where God spoke with Moses after he and the Israelites had been lost in the wilderness for 40 years and showed Moses the promised land. Moses is supposed to have died on Mt. Nebo after disobeying Gods instructions and being forbidden by God to enter the promised land. The view from Mt. Nebo is amazing as you look across the Jordan Valley to Jericho and many of the other well known Biblical sites. There is a Franciscan Church on top of Mount Nebo but there is reconstruction work underway at present and it is closed to visitors for the time being. Nevertheless, worth a visit just for the view.
A short drive down from the mountain we made a stop at a mosaic factory and shop to see how modern day mosaics are created and watched a master craftswoman at work. The piece she is working on they estimate will take one year to finish. Had a quick look around the showroom at the mosaics and assorted souvenirs you could buy to no avail but Maureen found a great gift for her son in law Lewis which he will love. Took a while of haggling to get it for a reasonable price plus shipping and fully insured. She is very happy with her purchase. Saw a poor cleaning woman knock over a mosaic while sweeping the floor. The salesman explained she was very scared what would happen to her because she immediately fainted and was carted off in a wheelchair.
On the road again our next stop was at Madabah which is a 50% Christian city and to the Greek Orthodox Church to see the mosaic map of the Holy Land which was created in Byzantine times in St. George’s church.
The detail is amazing on the map, you can see the Dead Sea and the Jordan River with all the locations which are known today. It is the most complete map of ancient times in the Middle East.
After the Church, I spoke with Raed about another mosaic we had seen 10 years ago that was quite complete and in another church somewhere in Madaba. I told him it was almost the whole floor of a church somewhere and he finally figured out I was referring to The Apostle Church. He took us there but unfortunately they are no longer allowed to wet down a part of the mosaic to show how bright and vibrant the colours still are after almost 1700 years. Once the couple of other tourists left, we were able to grease the palm of the attendant and he let us down on the floor level to walk around the edges and see the mosaic up closer.
We then had a couple of hours drive down the Kings Highway towards Petra with nothing much to see except desert and the odd Bedouin camp along the roadside. Just out of Petra we made a stop at Karak Castle, a Crusader Castle in the 1100’s but known to have been settled in the iron age. It has been in the hands of many conquerors over the years. They are doing a little bit of restoration work on the site again.
Now we had just a half hour drive into Petra and our hotel for the night just outside the entrance to Petra itself. Raed delivered us safely to the hotel after stopping briefly to book his own accommodation just next to Musa’s Spring in the town. Our hotel has been refurbed in the last few years and is quite comfortable, but is only the second place we have stayed where you pay for internet. Not that it mattered as we are all shattered and in need of sleep.
Took a walk along the street just near the hotel and found the Sandstone Restaurant where we decided upon dinner of shawarma for John and myself and a lamb dish for Maureen. John was a little disturbed when the waiter brought out a coffee cup and wanted to pour his beer into it. He explained that you are not allowed to drink alcohol outside the restaurant so John had his frothy “coffee” while Maureen enjoyed an “apple Juice”. The waiter then proceeded to hid the beer can behind a strategically placed light jar on the ledge. This charade is despite advertising alcohol on the streetside menu board.
We were all so tired and needed all our energies for a big day tomorrow so we were in bed by 8.30 and asleep by 8.40 I think. Looking forward to tomorrow.