Day 4 (10/09/2011)  Jordan: Jerash and Amman


   We should wake up very early. It’s possible our only chance of going into Temple Mount will be at 7;30 this morning. Anyway, we should leave at 9:00 to Jordan river 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 company 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.

Jerusalem to Madaba route

   The expected expenses for this day would be (per person):

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.

Israel in our way to North borderPalm trees plantation in Israel

   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. .

Supermarket between Israel and JordanSomeplace at North of Jordan

   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.

   So we 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 here.

   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 barren mountains. 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.

Lunching in Jerash   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 problems. 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.

Arch of Hadrian in JerashOval forum in Jerash

Cardo maximuss in JerashTemple in Jerash

Roman theater in Jerash

   Next now is driving one hour and a half until Madaba, 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.