(10/09/2011) Jordan: Jerash and Amman
wake up very early. It’s possible our only chance of going into Temple
will be at 7;30 this morning. Anyway, we should leave at 9:00 to Jordan
border, in Beit Shean. Depending on the rates we would go by taxi or
bus but we
should be there around 11:00 to pass into Jordan where the car rent
people is waiting for us.
Once driving the car, we will have one hour in road to
Jerash. We would lunch after visiting roman city and then, will drive
until our hotel in Madaba.
Optionally, depending on the timing in this
journey, we could go with the car into Jordan capital Amman and
visiting roman theater or mosque and its market.
The expected expenses for this day would be (per
Border taxes: 96 NIS leaving Israel and 20 JOD for the Jordan visa.
Jerash entrance ticket: 8 JOD
Finally one morning we’re ready early. And we
should as the timing is marked by the hired car picking up time:
11:30h. The idea is taking a taxi to bus station where we will take the
one going to Beit She’an in two hours. Its end stop is 5 Km far from
the border and we will save this distance by another taxi there.
With this plan, we arrive to Jaffa Gate after
carrying the baggage over the same stone stairs we suffered so much in
our way down the first night. With empty streets, the problem almost
disappears, though. Just after saving last step a taxi driver is making
us signs at the distance asking if we need his service, once I nod he
help us to put our bags in the car.
When asked about our destination I explain the route we have for today
and he offers taking us directly to the border by 500 shekels. I’ve
read that trip was 700 or more and he explains govern sets fixed rates
between two points in the country and nobody should charge more than
that. As it makes the trip easier, quicker and not so much expensive
shared by 4 persons, we accept and it makes us being at border some
minutes past 10:00.
The trip has shown a country full of yellowish
hills and free of any kind of live. A lot of desert with some parts
sprinkled with big palm groves. We can read some place names which
sound familiar: Jericho, Tiberias, … In our way we’re stopped at police
control where we should take every single bag off of the car – driver’s
too - to a scanner. The officers’ affability makes the stage lighter.
Our taxi driver is Palestinian and comments about current situation in
the country and Israel history.
We pay 520 shekels to him because of his
friendliness and we do our border tasks in Israel consisting on paying
101 shekels per person, do a passport control and waiting for the bus
which makes the short way in the bridge over Jordan River by 5 shekels
each. Before arriving to the bus stop, we should leave from Israel
crossing a duty free supermarket, entrance in Israel, exit in Jordan,
where I get a Winston box by 20€.
We have to wait for that confounded bus a while,
but we have enough time because of the taxi. When we finally do the
short bus trip, it ends in a building where we must purchase Jordan
visa (20 dinars per person) and do a passport control but where is not
allowed baggage inside. This make us have a strategy: I go inside with
all four passports and buy visas, then Eva and me do the passport
control and go out for baggage care to let my parents take the turn to
do their passport control. Somehow, although we’ve been on queue for
passport control a half of an hour, on my parents turn things goes
harder as a big group is occupying one of the two desks for
non-Jordanians, so they must wait, among the other tourists out of that
group, for their turn in a single desk. When they’re close to their
turn I’m starting to worry about the Montecarlo rent a car people
because we’re a little late for them, like 20 minutes, so, as we cannot
use any of our cell phones here, I go to an empty window labeled as
“Tourist Information” and comment this situation to them. They call to
car Rent Company and even I talk to the manager who explains to me the
boys were returning to the office from the border, but he is going to
ask them to be back there. The two men on this tourist information
office give me some beautiful guides about the country and are so kind
in exchange only of my gratitude. I’m thinking they’re so strict on the
car rent company if they couldn’t wait a short delay.
After finishing bureaucratic tasks we and our baggage must
pass through scanner for ending in a big parking with taxis and buses.
When I had the chance of talking to Montecarlo rent a car manager he
explained what to do at this point: the closest they can be is a place
called “Main Gate” and we must take a taxi for going to there. There is
a little house with a long list of Jordan destinations to go from there
and the rates for each one. Main Gate is the first in the list and the
price is just one dinar.
The euro to dinar conversion is very simple as
both currencies are
practically in an even. Exchange rates are a different thing, though.
On Israeli border side I asked about the rates and they offered 0.77€
per dinar - I politely tell the guy to go to hell-. In order to be able
of purchasing Jordanian visas I’ve got dinars by 0.85€ each.
arrive to the boys waiting for delivering our car to us at Main Gate
with no local money.
They imprint the deposit on our credit card and we get a car upgraded
from the one we rented: a Mitsubishi I-don’t-know-what. It allows us to
put all our baggage into the trunk, which was my principal concern
As we’re full of fuel we don’t have any emergency
to exchange money and
we start our trip to Jerash across ramshackle towns with women covered
up to the ears. When I think I’ve missed the way to Jerash I stop on a
gas station where I would be amazed if somebody tells me those
dispensers, which should be made by romans as the ruins we’re going to
visit, can do their job. I drive my steps to a store at its side to buy
a big bottle of water by 0.33 dinars (we’re starting to meet local
prices) and see how three men are working hard to give me indications
to go to my destination without knowing my language. When I’m back at
the car I turn round and go until the first traffic lights to go out
from that road, that’s what they would mean when showing their hand as
if it was talking: lights. One sign with Arabic characters and ours
confirms we’re in the good way and I start our way up to one of these
In our way down the mountain the road signs appear more often and when
I’m seeing a city I think could be Jerash and we’re ready to ask
someone about the roman ruins we meet them.
I’m parking at 15:00 and site close at 17:00. I don’t know
what to do in first place: visiting or lunching. A man appears and
solves all our problems. Better said, he drive us to a man who solves
Our first mistake, which explains the “short wait” of the car rent
company at the border, is Jordan is already in winter time and,
therefore, is one hour later: 16:00 – this is not getting better -, but
they have a restaurant just there where we can lunch by 8 dinars each.
They tell us ticket office to visit roman ruins close at 18:00 but they
let you finish your visit if you’re already inside at this time. Also,
they change our money by 0.90€ per dinar.
So, let’s lunch, with a lot of plates in table,
similar to Jerusalem
lunches. The man who has solved everything is taking care of every wish
from us, is like having a butler and Eva wants him at home for ever.
At 17:00 we start our visit. Arch of Hadrian and hippodrome can be seen
for free as they are after the ticket office but before ticket check.
Then we arrive to the Oval forum and cardo maximus, which are
spectacular: a big square rounded by columns and a wide and long
street. No missing columns here. As it is so late we are virtually
alone at the beginning and completely alone at the end, which is an
upgrade in our visit. We look at the temples and when we’re arriving to
the theater closing the circle we can see two guards at distance at our
back assuring nobody is remaining after us. They’re not doing any
pressure to us and let us enjoying our visit. Who really makes us out
of there is the sun, which is leaving Jerash with us.
Next now is driving one hour and a half until
passing through Amman lights. Our friend has giving perfect indications
to me for arriving to Madaba with no surprises.
Checkin and dinner (lentil soup was delicious) at
hotel and rest for all we have for tomorrow.