Day 5: Jerash, Jordan
We woke up early in the morning to say goodbye to Galilee and cross over the border into Jordan. Border crossings are complicated here. Unload off the bus at the border, pay your exit tax, receive a bar code ticket, go through a checkpoint without your luggage, get back on the bus giving your bar code ticket to an officer, drive over to the Jordanian side, meet your guide, unload your luggage outside, bring your passports to a visa station, return outside, walk your bags through the x-ray, load up another bus, and just when you think you're done, a Jordanian officer checks the passports one final time on the bus while we're driving away. Whew! We were tired and we hadn't even seen any sites! A little kitty was sad to see us go, as she had chosen a bed for herself on our bags while we were getting our passports checked.
We drove our way over to Jerash, Jordan, one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities, earning it the name "Pompeii of the East." Remains include the hippodrome, two large temples dedicated to Zeus and Artemis, the forum, a cardo, two theatres, communal baths, small temples, an almost complete circuit of city walls, a water powered saw mill, two large bridges and numerous Corinthian columns. After receiving a guided tour by Issa (Jesus), our Jordanian tour guide, we had time to wander the ruins on our own.
We had a delicious Jordanian lunch with fresh bread in Jerash and then made our way to the hotel in Amman. We were hoping to go straight to Petra but the border crossing festivities took longer than expected, and we wouldn't make it to Petra until 10pm. We chose Amman instead. The drive had beautiful rolling hills, olive vineyards, and small villages. The hotel in Amman was run by a staunch Muslim man, who would not allow our group to drink alcohol in the dining or lounge area of the hotel, much to the chagrin of this Catholic wine-loving group! Tomorrow we leave bright and early to get to Petra!