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whY go to Jordan?

klm597

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I successfully conquered the buses in Abu Dhabi today to and from the Louvre. Other than the "Ladies Only" area at the front of the bus the system seems to operate like every other modern bus system.

So the Louvre Abu Dhabi....

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The building is simply breathtaking - as a built-environment nerd I was completely stunned. When approaching the structure it looks like a huge flying saucer straight out of the 1951 classic 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' (but with a more 'Event Horizon' feel about it). The entire dome is only held up with four columns which are perfectly hidden at all times making it feel like it's hovering above you as if defying gravity.

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The way the sunlight passes through the dome also adds to it's beauty. As you walk below rays of sunlight and tiny flashes of direct sun jump out at you which also creates a 'star-field' effect on the white buildings below.

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The museum proper was very acceptable with some interesting artefacts, paintings and a few well-known gems. The collection was displayed chronologically and told the story of the human journey through time. This made for some very clever comparisons between different cultures with European, Chinese and Central American items of similar ages frequently displayed side-by-side. There was also a temporary exibit containing a varied sample of various international artists who had moved to Paris in the early 20th century to continue their work (Picasso, Chagall etc. etc.) which was also well done with a few gems.

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So the Louvre Abu Dhabi is most definitely a must-do if you are in town. Two very big thumbs up from me. 👍👍
 

pagingjoan

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The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been on my Must Do list since it opened.
Thank you for the first hand report.
 

klm597

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Today was the relatively quick hop from Abu Dhabi to Amman.

Breezed through check-in at the premium area in AUH and made my way to the Al Reem Lounge which is really just a Plaza Premium Lounge. Not a very exciting lounge but the food was okay and the coffee was nice and strong. 😁

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Got to the gate mid-way through boarding and after using the unmarked priority boarding channel I was waved into the business class bus and we were quickly whisked around the airport to our A330. I definitely noticed the extra seat width on the A330 compared to the 787. No personalised greeting for being a VA Gold on this flight. Food was just a large snack wrap and a little cake but that was enough for me.

The approach into Amman was interesting with the gear and flaps dropping when we were still well above 10,000ft - perhaps Amman has some interesting airspace restrictions when coming in via Saudi Arabia?

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The terminal in Amman is extremely nice and the visa on arrival and immigration process was very quick with basically no questioning. Priority baggage worked and I was in a cab with a very chatty driver in no time.
 

klm597

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I was a little overwhelmed with all the action in downtown Amman at first but after going for a long walk and having an incredible 2JOD (4AUD) dinner I already love it. The roads are chaotic and the footpaths are crowded but there are kids running around playing in the back streets saying hello and everyone that I spoke to have been incredibly kind and interested, especially when they find out I'm from Australia.

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I haven't noticed too many tourists but there are a few scattered about, mostly European it seems.

Amman might not be the prettiest city in the world but my second impressions are very positive. As a great lawyer once said "It's the vibe of it." I can't wait to do more exploring tomorrow.
 

clipped_wings

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Your fabulous trip report has already won me over - great observations, excellent writing and photos to drool over. Glad you are finally on board as a contributor - enjoy the rest of your amazing holiday and we look forward to hearing all about it!
 

klm597

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Thank you all for the kind words.

The first full day in Jordan started with an adequate breakfast on the hotel's top floor overlooking the quiet morning streets. First stop I walked up to the Amman Citadel which sits directly above the Downtown area. 3JOD to get in with no queues although one tour bus had arrived just before me.

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The citadel is one of the world's oldest continually habituated places (well over 4000 years) and you could freely walk around the ruins and get up close to everything. The main attractions were the ruins of the Temple of Hercules (Roman), a Byzantine era church and the Umayyad Palace and accompanying small village.

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Me being a civil engineer I was most interested in the series of fascinating water capture and storage systems around the site. There was also an Archeological Museum which housed various artifacts from each era found around the site. The domed roof on the Umayyad Palace is a modern reconstruction.

I was quite blown away by the shear quantity of history and to have such a fastinating collection of ruins right in the middle of Downtown is extraordinary. The site was quiet for most of the morning but as I departing a few more tour buses full of European tour groups began to flood the place.

After a quick lunch on Rainbow St (what I would describe as the "rich area") I continued onto the Jordan Museum. 5JOD entry and again it was very quiet.

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The museum was relatively small but stepped you through the history of Jordan and the surrounding area. What I've come to realise is that almost every significant step in the evolution of human society took place around this area and due to the arid climate many artifacts of these steps can be found all over Jordan. The climax of the museum was a few parchments of the Dead Sea Scrolls which were fastinating to see up close.
 

klm597

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A few words about the Art Hotel Downtown in Amman. It's a long way from being a luxury hotel but it has all the modern amenities and the front desk staff are very helpful. The bed and bathroom are both okay but there was a fair amount of road noise. This didn't stop me from having decent sleep however. In my wandering around the area it definitely seems like one of the nicer hotels in Downtown.

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klm597

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Today was a morning trip up to Jerash and back. Organised through the hotel for 60JOD, I probably over-paid but the car was very nice and the Palestinian driver very talkative and kind.

I was surprised at how mountainous the drive was but the highway was decent enough. Just under an hour later we were parked and walking into the ancient city of Jerash. 10JOD entry fee with no queues.

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You enter the site through the South gate (Hadrian's Arch) with the Hippodrome to the left. Both very impressive and well preserved. Passing through a second gate and ticket check you enter the city-proper. I was completely blown away by the scale of site, it was absolutely huge and much bigger than I was expecting.

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Much of the city was built during Roman occupation, then being repurposed during the Byzantine and early Arab eras. The city was destroyed during an Earthquake in 749AD with it remaining mostly untouched since then.

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I was most impressed with the two amphitheatres and the main street complete with a subsoil sewer system and manholes (sorry the engineer in me is coming out). Some of the mosaic floors were also incredibly well preserved.

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There were a few tour groups around but due to the shear size of the city it was still very quiet and nice to walk around. I spend around 3.5 hours wandering and taking pictures. Whilst similar in age and history to the Amman Citadel the ancient city of Jerash is significantly larger and more impressive. If you have the time in Jordan I would definitely recommend it.

I slowly made my way back to the carpark and after an over-priced lunch we drove back to Amman ready to meet my fellow tour-mates and begin the actual Jordan adventure.
 

pagingjoan

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I think you have well and truly begun your Jordan adventure! :)
Jerash is a jewel in itself.

Your photos brought back great memories.
And isn’t it such a privilege to be able to explore that incredible site with so few people around!

Enjoy the next chapter.
 

p--and--t

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Today was a morning trip up to Jerash and back. Organised through the hotel for 60JOD, I probably over-paid but the car was very nice and the Palestinian driver very talkative and kind.
You are certainly whetting my appetite.

In a mild panic not recalling the name, I rechecked my itinerary and yes:Da trip to Jerash is included on the final day.
 

klm597

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Yesterday the tour started and we all seem very eager to stick together and do a few more additional activities which is always a good sign. One couple with everyone else being solo travellers. A few Americans, a few Brits, a few Europeans, a few Aussies and a Malaysian who's also a tour guide makes for a nice mix of people.

For the first day of the tour we headed out to Mukawir (ancient Machaerus) high above the Dead Sea. The hike began at the top of the range and we made our way all the way down to the Dead Sea (took about 4 hours and wasn't too hot). This was an incredible introduction to the Dead Sea as the scale of the area really did feel like you were descending well below sea level. Tricky to capture in photos but I gave it my best shot.

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After a very quick drive we arrived at the Dead Sea Spa Resort (surrounded by other very nice resorts) for a swim. We all covered ourselves in the mud first before going in the water. Nine times saltier than typical sea water doesn't sound like much but it was a lot more potent than I was expecting. Whilst I didn't think the mud added that much to the experience the buoyancy of the water was quite extraordinary and the typical movements one makes to move about water often don't work as expected. It's almost like re-learning how to swim.

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We had an incredible sunset over Israel, *cough*, the West Bank that evening from the "beach." The continuously dropping water level (1m per year now) had created a muddy no-mans-land between the resort and the beach which in itself created an interesting context to the swim. All in all a worthy experience.

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That night was just a usual buffet dinner at the hotel followed by a few (too many) drinks with the alcoholics in the group. Petra Beer was 5JOD which we didn't think was too bad considering we were captive in a hotel and how little alcohol is consumed in Jordan. We tried both a red and a white Jordanian wine and won't be hurrying back anytime soon. Perhaps the more expensive ones are better?
 

klm597

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I forgot to take any pictures of the room at the Dead Sea Spa Resort but it was very large and the beds very comfy. Only downside was the bathroom stank of cigarettes and the room could have been a bit better maintained.

The resort grounds were clean and well maintained but definitely felt aged - the pools were very useful to thoroughly wash off the salt from the Dead Sea however.

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klm597

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I'm back in phone service range after two very full days in Petra and two amazing days in Wadi Rum. Will continue the trip report shortly.

In other news my upgrade bid for HKG-MEL has just been confirmed so you will get a premium cabin review from me after all!
 

BriarFlyer

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In other news my upgrade bid for HKG-MEL has just been confirmed so you will get a premium cabin review from me after all!
A karmic reward for sharing this informative and entertaining trip report. Enjoy!
 

kpc

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I have always wanted to go to Jordan esp Petra and your trip report is fuelling this desire.
 

klm597

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The next morning we began the 2.5 hour drive to Petra from the Dead Sea Spa Resort after a uninspiring hotel buffet breakfast. We drove South along the Dead Sea before crossing the mountain range to make it to Petra. The road crossing the range was truely spectacular with some fantastic views. It was a bit difficult for those that get car sick but well worth it for those that didn't. The photos don't do it justice.

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After dropping out bags at the Amra Palace International Hotel we spent the afternoon exploring Petra! There were no queues at all to get through the visitor centre. Our guide offered the option of a 3 day ticket rather than a 2 day ticket for an extra 5JOD for those that wanted to go early in the morning the day we depart Petra which I of course jumped at.

For the first day in Petra we entered the site through the main entrance via the Siq. We were warned it could be quite busy but we all thought it wasn't as busy as we were expecting. The first glimpse of the Treasury through the Siq was simply magical. We got to the Treasury around 2:30pm and walked around to the Tombs and to the Byzantine church (with mosaics that were only found in 2009) before making our way back past the Treasury and the Siq to the visitor centre. Nightfall hit as we were passing the Treasury so we got a quick taste of what the area is like after dark. I was beyond words the whole time so I'll let the pictures do the talking.

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That night was a typical 'chicken with rice' meal at a local restaurant. Many of us were surprised when we were served non-alcoholic beer after just asking for 'beer' - a trend that would continue for a few days.
 

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