Not only has the Orient inspired numerous poets and storytellers, but the melting pot of cultures, religions and languages also exerts a strong attraction on us. It is this mix of tradition and modernity, this impressive lightness despite all crises and the incredibly colorful, experimental and seductive Levantine cuisine that surprises again and again. One more reason for the Pack Easy Migratory Bird to land again after only a few kilometers of flight over the barren desert landscape and the Dead Sea and continue its voyage of discovery through the Orient in Jordan.
Where history comes alive
The Kingdom of Jordan is an Arab state, about the size of our neighboring country Austria. It is regarded as an anchor of stability in a crisis-ridden region and is governed by a very progressive and western thinking royal family. Already in the Bible, Jordan played an important role as the scene of countless stories and traditions. Mount Nebo, where Moses is said to have died, is still of the highest religious significance. From up here, visitors have a spectacular view over the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to Israel.
Only a few kilometers away is the historic city of Madaba. Here you will find a 2000 year old crypt with a legendary mosaic map, which is supposed to represent a 1500 year old map of today's Palestine. It was discovered at the end of the 19th century during the construction of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George and is one of the oldest pieces of ancient cartography. According to calculations, approximately 2.3 million stones were used for the mosaic, which measures approximately 15 m x 6 m. Today about a quarter of the original is preserved - an impressive proof of the artistic skills of our ancestors and not only worth a visit for those interested in the Bible.
If you want to experience history at first hand, Jordan is the right place for you, because many peoples have left their traces here. Among the best preserved archaeological sites from Roman times are the sites around the provincial city of Jerash. For fascinating insights into the past and an entertaining walk between magnificent columns, temple complexes or through the impressive Southern Theater, a guide is recommended, who is happy to share his profound knowledge with visitors.
Modern metropolis in a historical setting
The Jordanian capital Amman lies embedded in a hilly landscape. Around two million inhabitants live in today's financial metropolis, where traditional and historic buildings nestle shoulder to shoulder with ultra-modern high-rise buildings.
We start our city stroll in downtown. Amidst residential buildings lies the Roman Theater, where gladiator fights once captivated thousands of visitors. For some years now, the Amman Opera Festival has been held here, attracting international artists and audiences to Jordan. A few steps away we stroll over the old bazaar and browse among water pipes, sand paintings and perfume imitations for small trouvailles as a souvenir of our journey. If you are looking for a real piece of jewelry, we recommend a visit to the Gold Bazaar (Souk el-Sagha) around King Faisal Street. Watches and gold jewelry in all shapes shine and shimmer in the store windows of the stores where many young designers once started out. Don't forget to haggle in any case - because what may seem obtrusive to us is part of good manners here and is also incredibly fun!
There are many young artists living in Amman who proudly carry on the handicraft tradition of their ancestors and in some places add a modern twist. The First Circle Amman neighborhood and Rainbow Street are especially famous for cultural institutions, galleries, antiques and cozy cafés for short breaks. While we admire the filigree potteries, handmade soaps and colorful mosaic tiles, our eyes are also constantly drawn to impressive murals and graffiti that transform the dreary facades into pieces of jewelry.
Eco-tourism and sustainability
The rural exodus has also reached Jordan, but countless Bedouins still live in the country, 95 % of whose land is covered by desert. Resources, politics, economy - life for the Bedouin is becoming harder and harder and their habitat and culture must be protected. With this in mind, the Wild Jordan Center in Amman was created, an eco-tourism project with an attached boutique hotel, restaurant and meeting place for families and a small store, where natural products from the reserves protected by the founding organization are sold. The aim of the center is to generate income for the rural communities in Jordan. If you are interested in a very special and unique experience in different reserves, book a tailor-made tour here. But the Wild Jordan Center is not only a role model in modern eco-tourism, from up here you simply have a breathtaking view over the old town and the citadel of Amman.
Enjoy with all senses
The sense of community is in the foreground throughout the Orient. Everywhere young and old live and celebrate, always accompanied by expansive buffets with seductive delicacies. A Jordanian family festival is always a feast for the senses and often lasts several days.
The upscale Abdoun district of Amman is one of the most popular places to eat out. Here you will find bars, clubs and restaurants where concerts are regularly held. And there are places that combine all this. For example, the Blue Fig, a cultural meeting place where guests are pampered from early in the morning until late at night with market-fresh dishes that skilfully blend Western cuisine with Oriental cuisine.
As in Istanbul or Tel Aviv, people in Jordan often like to eat mezze and drink sweet black tea with mint. Desserts in the Arab world are also a touch sweeter than ours. For example, baklava or knafeh, sweet pastries with nuts and honey, which are often soaked in rosewater syrup.
Those who are not satisfied with the pleasure alone may try themselves on the stove. In the Nabataean ruined city of Petra, a cook and a housewife give an insight into typical Jordanian cuisine. They cook together and traditionally also eat together.
A somewhat different wellness experience
Wellness in the desert? Doesn't sound very tempting at first. A bath in the Dead Sea or the view of a hot spring is more promising. After a short drive we reach Hammamat Ma'in, the hyperthermal waterfalls are located in a green oasis, 264 meters below sea level. The mineral-rich water of the rainy winter of the highland plains flows through underground lava rock and is heated to 40 to 60 degrees Celsius until it reaches the 109 springs in the valley.
We follow the water through the breathtaking desert landscape to the Dead Sea, where we treat ourselves to one of the most luxurious outdoor SPA programs. The Dead Sea's mineral-rich black mud is used for therapeutic and cosmetic treatments. The minerals it contains, such as magnesium, chloride, calcium, sodium and potassium, are a boon to irritated and stressed skin. Afterwards, you can float comfortably and effortlessly on the water, which, thanks to its high salt content, gives an incredible feeling of weightlessness.
By the way, out of respect for the Islamic culture, some parts of the beach are only bathed fully clothed. The best thing to do is to orient yourself to the locals, then you won't run the risk of putting your foot in your mouth. But Jordan is a very open-minded country, only a dress code is enforced with vehemence, because as in most countries, Jordan currently has an extensive mask obligation. We are prepared, after all, the FeelSafe mask set from Pack Easy has been accompanying us through everyday life for quite some time.
Where Mars seems close enough to touch
Relaxed all around, the migratory bird of Pack Easy leads us to another extraordinary place, which he already had the chance to admire in all its splendor from the bird's eye view. Wadi Rum is the name of this unique desert landscape of sandstone and granite, which has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition to bizarre rock formations and deserted rock towns, the play of light and shadow at sunrise and sunset is particularly impressive.
Climbing tours, camel trekking, jeep safaris or a ride in a hot air balloon are also popular activities in the desert. It is therefore worth planning one or two nights in a Bedouin tent to experience the magic of the wilderness not only during the day but also under the Jordanian starry sky. The red desert sand and the barren rocks alone remind us of an extraterrestrial experience on Mars. Those who want to intensify this impression will spend the night in one of the futuristic "Martian Domes", a semi-circular tent, equipped with all luxury and comfort.
Aqaba - Dream Destination at the Red Sea
Jordan is an exceptionally dry country with scarce water resources, but in the far south, on the Gulf of Aqaba, the country borders a branch of the Red Sea. The port city of the same name lives from tourism and attracts mainly diving and snorkeling enthusiasts with its year-round ideal conditions. Especially popular is the private Berenice Beach, from which glass-bottom boat tours are also offered. In addition, excursions into the desert or sailing trips are offered. But it is also worth to explore the city of Aqaba on foot, it is not very big and all sights are within easy reach. For a short trip into Jordan's past we recommend a visit to the castle ruins, which are called Aqaba or also Mamluk Castle. It was here that the famous Lawrence of Arabia achieved a major success during the Arab revolt in 1916. Especially beautiful is also the mosque Sharif Hussein Bin Ali, the bright white building with countless ornaments, decorations and columns is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.
Exhausted and moved by the countless impressions we end our journey with a view of the Red Sea and in the knowledge that one day we will return to this beautiful country where there are so many more hidden cultural treasures to discover. Several months have already passed since the migratory bird of Pack Easy set off on its journey south. We have met many people, languages, cultures and traditions on his journey, a colorful palette of memories that will stay with us forever. Traveling makes the world a little bit more colorful! With this in mind, accompany us on the next and last stage of our journey and show your colors: https://colouryourjourney.com/.