Holiday: Jordan – Day 6 (21st April)

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We’re in Jordan for 10 days with great mates, Ralph & Karen. It’s day 6 of our 10-day trip, where today we take the Dead Sea Highway back to the capital, Amman – some 150 miles. Forget ‘Route 66’, this route is known as ‘Highway 65’! It’s a long road ahead – about 4 hours without stops! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. Today is a special day for one for us! Ralph hits a birthday milestone today – the big 70! ๐Ÿ‘.

Before we get onto the details of TODAY, a quick word about last night’s truly unique experience. For those of you who missed the Post, here’s a quick recap… We were invited to a local Bedouin family’s home to share a meal with them, together with their extended family.. They opened up their home to four complete strangers and treated us like they’d known us for ages. We had a fantastic time – human nature at its best… and some! The language barrier didn’t seem to matter, although Eddie, our Guide, was on-hand for occasional translation duties. Not only did they let us share a fantastic meal (they called it ‘Upside Down’, consisting of meat, vegetables and rice), they even arranged a birthday cake in Ralph’s honour AND sang (and danced) Happy Birthday too! The lasting impression? How happy and satisfied this family was! They didn’t have much in terms of possessions and there were a lot of family members crammed into a very small dwelling, but they made us feel SO welcome. Such generosity in every possible sense! ๐Ÿ˜

Last night’s meal
Our Hosts

9.06am: Back to today… We’re on the road – Our next stop? The Dead Sea! ๐Ÿ˜. Once we’re there, Eddie has arranged an opportunity for us all to actually bathe in the ‘Dead Sea’ special water and enjoy all the benefits that it brings (including a mud bath, or sorts!). I can’t wait! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

All packed and ready for the journey

What you may have missed…

Day 5 – Dana Biosphere Nature Reserve
Day 4 – Petra (Part 2)
Day 3 – Petra (Part 1)
Day 2 – Kerak Castle
Day 1 – Lazy Day
Day 0 – Arrival in Amman

The journey time to the Holiday Inn Hotel – Dead Sea Resort is about 4 hours by car, so it’s a long one using a variety of roads. We had a couple of stops along the way, which really helped, but if you’re following in our footsteps, I wouldn’t recommend choosing this route yourself. In fact, I’d go as far as to say, after almost a week out here, it’s probably wise NOT to hire a car out here AT ALL. The ‘rules of the road’ seem to be very different; there is a lack of signposting and like a few other countries we’ve been to, don’t expect them to ‘give way to the right’ (because they don’t!) Thank heavens we had our own Driver!

12.10pm: As we got closer to the Dead Sea, Eddie, our Guide suggested we drop in to the Mujib Adventure(s) Center. Amongst other opportunities, they offered the facility to ‘dip your toe in the water’ (literally). Sadly, inside, the whole area was cordened off whilst they practised a large-scale civic emergency drill (the giveaway was the plethora of police, ambulances and fire trucks parked immediately outside with their lights flashing. Next stop? Specsavers! ๐Ÿ˜›

The Dead Sea

Our first view of the Dead Sea

11.57am: Our first view of the Dead Sea came a little earlier than we thought – and it was a great photo opportunity! Eddie filled us in on some little-known facts about it…

  • It’s shrinking and may not be around in 30 years’ time
  • The border with Israel is down the middle
  • Contains major mineral deposits such as Magnesium and Potash

As we got closer to our destination, the roads improved enormously – wider and smoother. Pity about the driving standards that continued to entertain and shock in equal measure. Witness the driver who was in ‘lane 3’ and who crossed all the traffic lanes to exit the road to his right, and the taxi driver who signalled LEFT and turned immediately RIGHT. Thankfully, in just under an hour later, we arrived at the Hotel.

12.47am: Well, here we are at The Holiday Inn – Dead Sea Resort. It had taken us (just) 3 hours 36 minutes, including stops – which wasn’t bad considering the quality of the roads in places and the (ahem!) ‘variable’ driving skills of our fellow motorists. Although it wasn’t on our original itinerary, the stop here is booked and paid for (apparently!). The visit gave us access to some private bathing in the Dead Sea – and it sure beats the usual visit to the Pub on a Sunday for originality! ๐Ÿ‘.

Yummy!

1.00pm: But before the potential bathing, there was lunch – and all paid for as part of our package! There was plenty of choice on offer, in fact probably the best and most varied since we arrived – including the famous Umm Ali dessert (Bread and Butter pudding on steroids!). Eddie was a little put-out he’d been missed off the lunch list and slummed it with a sandwich in Reception. ๐Ÿ˜’

Dead Sea ahead!
Well done Karen!

2.02pm: Suitably stuffed (and some) the moment had now arrived for the Dead Sea experience. After what felt like another five-mile walk out of the back of the Hotel, we trekked towards the sea. Due to a mis-communication between us and Eddie, we ended up missing the changing rooms and were left to change into our swimwear in public. Careful positioning of beach-towels with each of us taking it turns to act as lookout ensured that no member of the public was embarrassed (I think public nudity is punishable by hands being chopped off out here – well, I think it’s ‘hands’) ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

That was the easy bit! First we had to get to the sea. Walking along the wooden board (in the photo above) was simple enough, but when we hit the beach, the ‘sand’ (for ‘sand’, read pebbles and sharp rocks) made it a real challenge to get much further. We four hobbled along and finally made it. As we entered the water, those pebbles and sharp rocks continued. So, it wasn’t that simple… Apparently, there are a number of stages involved in the full Dead Sea experience…

Stage 1 – Get into the sea, and wade out, preferably backwards
Stage 2 – Lie back and float!
Stage 3 – Return to the sandy area and cover yourself in the ‘special’ mud (supplied free)
Stage 4 – Return to the sea and wash it all off

Safe to say, we didn’t ALL accomplish ALL the stages. For Ann and for me, we failed miserably, finding the seabed so painful with its pebbles, and the current so strong, we almost lost our balance. We were desperately trying not to fall head first. Why? As ‘healthy’ as this experience is supposed to be, we had been warned on two separate occasions not to get the water anywhere near our eyes! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. Apparently, the chemicals cause an irritation that lasts two days! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ. Full marks to Karen who excelled in stages 1 & 2, but like most people there today (not just US) the mud thing was a step too far! ๐Ÿค”

That’s more like it! Our reserved loungers!

We were all a tad disappointed with the Dead Sea experience, and so we headed for the Poolside and soaked up some Sun for the next half-hour.

3.46pm: One for the unique features of where we are – specifically – is our position relative to sea-level. The Dead Sea lies 390m below sea level, and where we parked to take the above pictures was at precisely 0! – so it was quite a climb!

The House Boutique Hotel

4.52pm: Well, that was a journey-and-a-half! We even experienced our first Jordanian traffic jam as we got within a mile of here. Yes, they have ‘rush hours’ too! This is our home for the rest of the holiday – The House Boutique Hotel for four days. This, our latest accommodation, is a cross between a hotel and a house, and so we’ve got our own kitchen area with two separate rooms and en-suite, but with the convenience of everything a hotel offers too!

The whole place is certainly well-appointed – and it looks very new too! As we headed for our shared room – room 311 – a few things caught our eye! Karen’s THREE legged bed that was definitely on the wonk; the flashing overhead light and the distinct lack of coat hangers. It was all soon resolved and the Duty Manager looked suitably embarrassed (especially about Karen’s bed!).

At least we got a complimentary bowl of fruit out of it! ๐Ÿ‘

Let the Birthday Celebrations Begin!

6.33pm: After we’d finished unpacking, arranged for Karen’s bed to be repaired and counted our new stash of coat hangers, there was only one thing left to do – find somewhere to eat and celebrate Ralph’s Birthday. Eddie had recommended Romero Restaurant nearby and we made our booking.

7.32pm: We decided to walk – it only took around 15 minutes, and we passed the Intercontinental where we’d stayed earlier in the holiday. Here we are at Romero’s…

A great menu!

9.45pm: We all agreed that was a great meal. We asked the Restaurant to arrange for a taxi, and we were back in the room in a flash. Ann took care of the washing and ironing, which got us ahead for the rest of our stay.

9.55pm: That’s it for today – Happy Birthday Ralph!!! Tomorrow it’s our half-day guided tour around Amman. Nighty night! See you Monday. ๐Ÿ’ค๐Ÿ’ค๐Ÿ’ค๐Ÿ’ค

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