If I had to rank travel experiences this would be near the top. There is so much to see in a relatively small area. You can feel the history, religion and conflict. We started out the trip in Amman, Jordan. Jordan is a country that has absorbed millions of refugees from Palestine, Syria and I believe Iraq. It has put a tremendous strain on rhe country. You will see UN tents there for refugees.
We stayed in a small motel that included nice breakfasts with Arabic food. It was near Christmas and snow was on the ground. We went out to Jerash an ancient Roman ruin. Beautiful place. We also visited the Citadel which provides a nice view of Amman. One day we took a trip to Madaba where they make some great mosaic art. On the same day went up to Mt Nebo where I believe Moses did something historical. We then visited the Jordan River where Jesus was baptised. My wife got some samples of water there and brought them to the Dominican Republic. She told me a story today that one of the receivers sprinkled it around his failing business and that within five minutes someone came in to provide him with a lot of work. It was interesting that you can probably throw a rock across the river to Israel.
After a couple of days in Amman we went to spend a night on the Dead Sea, which is famous for its high salt content. It was amazing how high in the water you float. It is a bit disorienting. Also stung quite a bit if you had a cut. The Dead Sea was a day of relaxation and then we had to cross the border into Israel.
Living in the UAE, many expats told me that if I had a stamp from Israel there may be a problem entering some Arab states. I don’t know if that is true but my passport was not stamped. I received an insert paper of sorts. To get to the border we had to take a bus in Jordan to a certain point, then dismount and get on another bus that would take us to the border crossing with Israel. The bus passed through a fairly empty area that felt like a no go zone. I believe we passed through the West Bank area of Palestine. The border crossing was fairly uneventful as I recall but it took a couple of hours with lots of security.
It was cold and the next day was Christmas Eve. We stayed in a small place in Jerusalem. It was an amazing place to walk around. We just wandered aimlessly and kept running into spectacular sights in the old walled city. There are four quarters in the old city. They are Muslim, Christian, Armenian and Jewish. We stumbled upon places like the wailing wall where people stand in front of the wall sort of bobbing their head and body. I saw lots of notes at the wall if I remember correctly. We came upon the church in which Jesus was laid on a stone with his bloody wounds. You could feel the weight of the centuries there.
We hiked up a hill outside the walled old city. There was a magnificent graveyard, views of Al Aqsa mosque and an orthodox church shiny and gold. We went to a little building where Jesus’ ascension supposedly took place. Of course money is collected.
We didn’t have much of an opportunity to speak with Israelis so I can’t comment on that. After spending Christmas in Jerusalem we crossed back into Jordan. Taxis were phenomenally expensive and not very nice. We headed towards Petra and once out of town, the car broke down. The guy left us on the side of a road and ran across the street. We really had no idea what was happening. He came back with a guy in another car who then drove us. It was very strange. We took a route up through some dramatic scenery. The day was consumed by driving.
The next morning we set out to explore Petra. Petra is very special. Amazing rock formations with buildings carved into the stone. The walk and hike was somewhat strenuous but you could ride a camel or donkey. Denny wanted nothing to do with that. The hike provided beautiful views. We met a Bedouin lady selling jewelry. She walked around with us and made some tea. She was impressive and spoke many languages. We did all this in 9 days I believe. Great trip.