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Jordan and Egypt, August 2002

February 2, 2006
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Normal format. Two weeks at the hottest and most expensive time of the year, first week touring, second week lounging.

Jordan seemed pretty safe and had lots of interesting places to visit. Kuoni in charge of transport etc, as always. Amman was our starting point. The locals were friendly enough, if a little unused to Europeans wandering around their shops.

The first trip was to Jerash, an enormous Roman ruin (not just a city) a few miles to the north of the capital. I remember the huge digital thermometer on a roundabout in the city read 39C at 9 a.m. when we set off. Then it got hotter. It was worth it, though. Even the place where Jesus is reported to have turned water into wine is there.

On our week-long tour South to Aqaba we visited more Roman ruins and those of a crusader castle, the hill with a view over the river Jordan where Moses is supposed to have shown his tribe the ‘promised land’, the Dead Sea and, of course, Petra.

Petra

This shows, not the normal shot of the ‘Treasury’, but another part of the vast complex.

At this point I have to admit that I missed it entirely, being confined to my room with such bad diarrhoea that I needed (expensive) medical treatment. Thank goodness it worked as, two days later, we were hutling over the desert in jeeps to see Lawrence’s seven pillars, Lawrences spring and the railway line he and his Arab fighters attacked so vividly in the film.

From Aqaba we took the hydrofoil ferry to Nuweiba then a minibus over the Sinai (Sinai means ‘teeth’, by the way, which describes their shape) mountains to Sharm-el-Sheik and the Movenpick hotel.

We didn’t get into the old town but the central area of Sharm is like a cross between Blackpool seafront, Soho and a pedestrianised city centre anywhere in the world.

The best part of the week was a full day’s snorkelling trip into the Red Sea. Brilliant. We talked for ages with a family from Quwait who had come to Sharm, with its daytime temperatures of about 40C to get away from the heat at home!
We also had a camel ride into the desert, along with a Russian family who spoke no English. Amazingly, the hotel found a scuba instructor/guide who spoke fluent English and Russian. At a Bedouin camp at sunset we had coffee and tried a fruity ‘hooka’ pipe; not bad. Amongst the strange things we saw in the desert was a dam! Apparently, about every 7 years they have very heavy rains in the desert and mountains inland and last time a metre-high wall of water tore through all the hotel complexes to the sea. The dam has yet to be tested.

Despite the fierce sun, we managed to avoid getting sunburned but the photos and memories have long outlasted the suntan.

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