AMMAN & MADABA, JORDAN

DSC_0521JORDAN AS A COUNTRY

Modernisation

In 2011, Jordanian students joined together for a peaceful protest demanding higher wages and better democracy. This is no news for Jordan, since democratic reforms have been present since the 1967 when Jordan allowed women to vote. Although democracy is still not 100% in it’s full form, the leader of the country, King Abdullah, is regarded both home and abroad as a sensible and wise ruler, modernising and globalising Jordan in order to get Jordan on the map and stamp out corruption.

Women’s rights

Family is important to Jordanian people, so old values run deep regarding women having sex before marriage or committing adultery, though the only punishment is shame from the family members rather than punishment UAEstyle. A lot of women also go to university, which therefore leads to more free thinking and freedom. Also a minimum of six women MPs is guaranteed by royal decree and today the labour force made up of women has risen to 17.8%.

Safety

Jordan is a safe country in the mids of dangerous countries. It has a tough location and that’s why it is trying really hard to encourage tourism, for example their government created the Jordan pass, which gives you Jordan visa + access to the main tourist sites for an extremely good price. Jordan isn’t in oil business, so it’s biggest income is tourism and that’s what’s making the Jordanians wanting to hold their reputation as a safe destination. It’s a rich country.

Here’s how Lonely Planet sums up the safety precautions taken by the Jordan government:

Some of the measures taken by the government for the purpose of safety include the following:

  • A high security presence in many tourist hotels throughout Jordan.
  • Metal detectors at hotels and some public buildings.
  • Tourist police are present at all major sites.
  • Checkpoints monitor all border zones.

Jordanians value history as everyday life, not something you read out of a school book. Many of the people like to carry on ways of life that have proved to be successful for centuries, and they compromise modern and ancient beautifully. I haven’t ever seen it done anywhere in such way and it was such a pleasure to travel there, we will definitely go back.

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AMMAN

When we first arrived in Jordan, we planned to spend at least three nights in Amman before going to Petra. Amman is the buzzing capital city of Jordan. Although it has only been the capital since the mid-20th century it’s not without history; the world’s earliest human made statues were found in Amman. The sophisticated culture that produced these statues dates as far back as 8500BC. Today Amman is divided in two sides: the urban, more western Amman with it’s modern coffee shops and bars, and then the more conservative and traditional Eastern Amman. The city is definitely the go-to place of the Middle East, as it surprises you with it’s art galleries as well as it’s, according to Joe, amazing draft beer. In Downtown there is even a cafe fully designed with a Finnish designer brand, Marimekko! Well, isn’t that hip?!

A city that was referred in the Old Testament as Rabbah is now called the Citadel, one of the oldest  inhabited parts of Amman established circa 1800BC. It’s on the highest hill in Amman, sitting at 850m and it includes impressive ruins of an Umayyad palace and a Temple of Hercules (felt like we were back in Athens then) with a magnificent view down to the extremely well preserved Roman theatre.

We both really loved Amman as it was the first proper Middle Eastern city I’ve ever been to (Joe’s been to Morocco), and it was a wonderful start for our journey in Jordan. Frankly, we were in shock of how modern it is! On the first day, in the first coffee shop, they were playing the soundtrack of Grease as well as Elton John. This is for all my readers: Go to Jordan! Go to Amman! You’ll fall in love with it.

Accommodation: The Boutique Hotel (20e/night)

Favourite restaurant: Shams El Balad Cafe

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MADABA

After four nights in Petra we decided to end our backpacking in Jordan in somewhere more quiet. In Lonely Planet Madaba is described as a relaxed market town, and that’s pretty much what we thought of it too. It’s known for it’s collection of mosaics, and the most famous one is the map on the floor of St George’s Church (yes, one third of Madaba’s population is Christian when the other two-thirds are Muslim). Madaba is less busy than Amman, but has equally great restaurants and hotels so it can also be an alternative choice to stay to Amman. It’s also used as a base for visiting the Dead Sea as well as Mount Nebo, where, in the greatest story book ever made, Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land. After that, he died on the mountain, aged 120. I’m 100% that’s a true story, eh!

Madaba was a sweet and subtle last spot to stay before flying out. It was a cute town, though seemed more conservative than Amman regarding the way women dressed. We did the recommended day trip to both Mt Nebo and the Dead Sea, where the latter was a very special experience! In case you didn’t know, the salt percentage of the sea is around 34%, making it rather impossible to swim (you are advised not to dive at all) because you’re simply floating like you are in some jelly! The reason why it’s called the Dead Sea is (you guessed it) that it doesn’t have any sealife in it. After having a fun bob in the sea that provides important skincare products, we spent our afternoon in a 5* hotel called oH by the sea since our hired car driver was able to offer us discount if we wanted to swim in the infinity pool and have lunch. I recommend you to stay in Moab Land Hotel in case you travel to Madaba, because their staff know the best people who have access to the best discounts!

Accommodation: The Moab Land Hotel (20e/night)

Favourite Restaurant: Ayola Cafe

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