Sunday, December 2, 2018

Jordan: Madaba and Karak Castle

We took a 1 hour flight from Beirut back to Amman and then a taxi for the 25 minute journey for our overnight in Madaba. Madaba is much a smaller town than the capital but is the same distance from the airport. It seemed preferable to have our rental car delivered to a smaller location rather than trying to navigate out of busy Amman. 

It was about 7pm at night and after we had checked into the Mosaic City hotel we walked for 10 minutes or so to a Carrefour to pick up some supplies for our time in Jordan (water, biscuits, chocolates – just the essentials) On the way back we saw a sweets shop popular with the locals.Using the international “point-at-what-someone-else-is-eating” technique we procured a plate of sticky, sweet, delicious Kanafah…
kanafeh
The next morning our rental car was delivered to the hotel and once the formalities were complete we drove off in our grey Chevrolet Sedan.

Before leaving town we went to the see the most famous sight in town – the Madaba Mosaic map.  It is in the floor at the St George church and dates from the 6th century AD.  It is considered to be the oldest map of the Middle East.  Andrew was singularly unimpressed with it, maybe had been expecting more?
madaba mosaics
The route for the day was the King’s Highway, a traditional trading route that wound through twisting mountains and smaller towns.  A 6 hour drive with stops along the way.
desert

At the ‘Grand Canyon’ we stopped at the viewing car-park and took a few photos. The scenery is dramatic and the landscape harsh. The coffee overlooking the view was a good break.

desert coffe
Our main stop for the day was Karak, and the crusader era castle. We followed the map up to the castle where restaurant proprietors started to wave us over. They have a win-win practice whereby they encourage you to park in front of their restaurant (after they move the road cones) and hope you will eat with them. Not having any specific place in mind a parking spot and a meal suited nicely.

lunch karak
The castle is large and as one would expect was positioned on a hill to survey their lands. It is included as part of our Jordan Pass, but nobody wanted to check the pass, they just waved us through. I could have been holding two pieces of recycled paper for all they knew! Jordan Pass is 70 JD and purchased before you go into the country. If you stay more than 3 nights in the country it means your entry visa is free and you get access to Petra and a number of other national sites.
.KArak
It has been restored to some degree but large parts remain in ruins. We had a good wander around, walking off lunch. Then it was back into the car for the remaining trip to Petra.

Everywhere we saw houses built to one level but with steel rods sticking out of the roof. Not just occasionally but constantly. Later we found out that it was often done for when the son of the family married, another could be built upstairs for the newlyweds to live in. And often building was simply done as money was available.  The one below is not finished, but the roof would be put in and the rods stay sticking out for future building
house
We had a BnB out of the town centre, up on the hills, called logically The Little BnB on the hill. It was a good choice and perfect for our needs. It is run by a personable English woman and her Jordanian husband.  The neighbourhood is a new subdivision and had good views over the town.
petrabnb

















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