After departing Petra we headed northwards via Kerak Castle and the Dead Sea before making our way to Amman.
At 900 metres above sea level and perched on a hilltop overlooking valleys, it had a good strategic position for defense. It is a reasonably large castle with a great deal of history. Parts of it remain in good condition.
It was fascinating to see, but I didn’t seem to retain much of the information about it.
The Dead Sea is an absolutely fascinating place. We had anticipated a dark coloured sea and were surprised to find clear blue waters, with a white crystallized salt rim.
The Dead Sea is approximately 400 metres below sea level. It earned the name the “Dead Sea” due to the fact that it contains no life. The water has a very high percentage of salt in it. 290 grams of salt per litre of water, which is roughly a 34% saturation of salt. When you look through the water the salt content makes the water appear oily.
While I had heard that swimming in the Dead Sea is quite the experience as you are very buoyant, I really never could have anticipated exactly how it would feel. You float like a cork in the sea. You can stand vertically with your head and shoulders above the water, without your feet actually touching the ground.
In addition to all the salty buoyant water, the Dead Sea mud is fairly well known for it’s ‘health’ properties. Dead Sea mud contains 25 or more minerals and sells for a fortune in the form of body masks, face masks and well as various other creams.
We paid 3JOD (approx. $5) to spread the thick black mud all over ourselves. It was great for a laugh, but whether it improved my skin or not I can’t say.
Time spent at the Dead Sea was AWESOME!!!!
Amman Citadel & Roman Forum
In the center of downtown Amman, on the hill between several valleys, is the Amman Citadel. In terms of fortification and safety, the location had a fantastic position and provides a view over Amman in all directions.
The site was built and rebuilt numerous times over the years by many different civilizations. Evidence of which can be found in the architecture and carvings.
Looking down from the citadel into one of the valleys, the Roman Forum can be found. The Forum dates back to the 2nd century AD, in a time when Amman was known as Philadelphia. The Forum is a nice spot to visit but was absolutely overrun with people. It does however provde a nice view and has been fairly well restored.
Jerash is approximately an hour drive north of Amman, close to the Syrian border. It is a Greco-Roman city dating back to around 2000BC. This ancient city boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years.
While the site is enormous, not many of the original structures are intact. It was hidden beneath the sand for centuries, but has been undergoing excavation and restoration over the past 70 years.
The highlights of the site included Hadrian’s Arch, the Theatre, Zeus’ Temple, Temple of Artemis and the Cardo.
The city of Amman is large and used to be referred to as having seven hills. Over time the city has grown and now covers more than seven of the hills in the area. It has a population of roughly 4 million people, some people claim that approximately 1 million of whom are refugees. Currently the city hosts a large number of Syrian refugees.
The Downtown area of Amman is busy, noisy and smelly but in a way that is reflective of the culture. Wandering around is a very pleasant experience.
It’s great to stop by local food places for a savoury treat, a tasty dessert or even just a cup of tea. You can easily eat a meal out for 2.5JOD or 25JOD. I would recommend heading to the places that have big queues of locals as the food is likely to be the best and most affordable.
If you head to the right areas, the Amman Downtown has some pretty awesome street art. I went on a little mission to find some and was not disappointed!
If you are keen for a treat, then I would highly recommend a visit to a Turkish Bath (Hamam). There are a few around, but I went to Al-Pasha and was very happy with the service there. Over the course of 1.5 – 2 hours I sweated in the steam room and sauna and I roasted some more in the Jacuzzi. I was also scrubbed from head to toe, washed with soapy bubbles and had a full body massage. All for 25JOD, the cheapest Hamam I have visited to date. For an extra 3JOD you could add in a facial.
For me this body scrub and pampering treatment was a great way to wash off the collective dirt of the desert and city, and relax at the end of a fantastic adventure through Jordan.