Today's adventure started at Madaba, a city located 33 Km/20 miles from the capital Amman. Madaba is known as the city of mosaics because according to what I had read, underneath almost every house lies a mosaic dating back from the 5th through the 7th century. Although many of the mosaics have been excavated and are on display in the town's museum, it is estimated that many more have yet to be uncovered. If you love mosaics then you would have a field day in Madaba as there are tonnes to be found in this city.
I got to Madaba by use of the JETT bus (Jordan Express Tourist Transportation) which is a very reliable public transport that offers daily tours from Amman. When they say tours, basically the bus drops you at a point of interest then the driver waits for you as you explore for an agreed period of time before getting back on the bus to head to the next site. The ticket I bought included Madaba, Mt Nebo and Bethany, it cost 15 JD (Jordanian Dinar) which is roughly $21 ($1 = 0.70 JD).
The trip to Madaba took about an hour and the first stop was at the Madaba Visitor Center which serves as the starting point to the touristic and archeological sites in the city. Below are some of the briefly summarized highlights that I experienced, I was trying to keep it short.
Archaeological Park - located very close to the visitor center, it includes 3 Byzantine churches and some really beautiful mosaics that were uncovered. I am talking about mosaics dating back to the 6th century AD!
Church of The Beheading of John the Baptist - declared by the Vatican as a sacred place, this church was consecrated to the beheading of St. John the Baptist. Visitors have the opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower which is the highest point in Madaba, to enjoy the beautiful aerial view of the city.
Lastly, I stopped by one of the many shops that sell mosaic art to appreciate their work. All of what you see below is mosaic and it takes a lot of work just to get one portrait done.
After we got done at Madaba, we headed to Mount Nebo which is one of the most revered holy sites in Jordan as this is where Moses was buried. The views were amazing and if you know the biblical stories pretty well then you can appreciate the historic significance of the place.
Don't let the sun fool you, it was cold!!!
After Mt. Nebo we headed to Bethany where we took a bus to the site of Jesus' baptism, the guide who took us to this site was explaining that you could dip your hand in the water and make a wish. Unfortunately when we got to the site the water level was so low so we never got a chance to dip our hands and make a wish. Ooh! well.........
There are several different churches around the baptism site and I thought this one was really pretty!
That's it folks! we did not spend too much time at this last site as there wasn't a lot to be seen but all in all it was a full day packed with a lot of history. We got back to Amman in the evening and tomorrow I get to do it all over again so watch out for an update.
Random Thoughts Of The Day:
Jordan has hot dry summers and cold wet winters, with that being said......it is cold!!!! and of course I didn't pack very well. I should have packed more sweaters but I had underestimated how cold it would be so I packed a bunch of t-shirts which I have been forced to wear in layers. To make matters worse there is no central heating at my airbnb rental so you don't want to see how I look when going to bed, I wore 2 pairs of socks to bed last night!!
I was provided with a heater that runs on a gas cylinder but I am so scared of carbon monoxide poisoning so I don't go to sleep with the heater on, even my airbnb host told me its best not to sleep with the heater turned on through out the night. To make matters worse turning it on is another ordeal so I just end up layering my clothing to keep warm.
What they say about Jordanian hospitality is true, the people are very nice and welcoming. The first question most will ask if they speak English is, "where are you from?" once you tell them your country of origin they quickly follow up with, "you are welcome in Jordan." Everywhere you go people tell you, "Welcome." Of all my travels I would say the most friendly and hospitable people I have encountered so far have been the Turkish and now, the Jordanians.
As I always say, befriend your taxi guy because through them you will learn a lot about the city and if they are nice enough they can really help you with reasonable transportation or even take their time to show you around places you never would have known off. I now have 2 taxi "buddies" that I can call whenever I need a ride and they will come get me.
I got a local sim card and my life has never been easier! I can make unlimited local calls and have access to the internet whenever I need it. Now I don't have to panic if I am in the middle of some random street and have no clue how to get out or if I need to reach my airbnb host to clarify his address with a taxi guy that's not too sure how to get to the address.
Jordan Pass........get it before traveling here, not only will it save you money on visiting some sites but you will get your visa fees at the airport wavered.
I saw some of the cutest and chubbiest cats on this trip, they were freely roaming around and I think the locals feed them well and treat them nice because these cats looked healthy and were not scared, I just wanted to hold one and give it a nice hug but then again......they are stray cats and who knows what they carry. I am a huge cat lover but I am not about to catch something on my vacation.