7th -8th July:
Long day of 16 hours of travel and shifting time zones. Left Swansea at 11.30 on the train to Paddington - arrived around 2.30- then by tube to Heathrow to check in for Dubai. We had a four hour wait around Terminal 3 until our seven hour flight which, of course, meant a time zone shift of three hours effectively lengthening our day.
We then had to amuse ourselves for seven hours before flying on to Jordan. This meant that with the lack of sleep on the trip over the day was punctuated in periods of dozing amidst our luggage which doesn’t make for a great sense of completeness!
Arrived at Amman Airport at 4.00 p.m. to be met by our AtlasTour guide inside passport control and ushered through the routines rapidly and smoothly only to discover that our luggage was to be the last bags off the rack.
Once we were luggaged up our host introduced us to our driver, Saber, and escorted us to the Hotel where we discovered, somewhat disconcertedly,that we were the only guests for the night!! Being the sole guests meant extremely generous meals - the evening meal of chicken, rice and vegetables was bigger than we would otherwise eat as, we found the next morning, was breakfast.
Next morning we set off to visit the first of the sites on our itinerary - the Greco-Roman city of Jerash which is on the outskirts of Amman.
We also discovered one of the advantages of touring Jordan at this time of the year.... few tour groups blocking the entrances and sites for when we arrived at Jerash there were about six cars and a mini-van in the car park.
Jerash was one of the ten important cities in the Roman Empire - the Decapolis of Philadelphia (Amman), Damascus, Gadara until the collapse of the Roman Empire.
Beside the temple of Artemis stands the Nymphaeum built in 191AD and dedicated to the water nymphs. This building was an impressive one with niches for each representation of the nymphs in the wall opening onto the street and the remains of a fountain in its courtyard.
The re-enactment group was an enthusiastic presentation of Roman drill manouvres and demonstrations of fighting techniques performed by the 6th Legion of Jerash in full armour. They were followed by Gladiators from the local Gladiatorial school who demonstrated the different types of combat used in such exchanges all to loud calls from a couple of young boys of “Kill Him!! Kill Him!!” as each exchange reached its climax.
They were followed by three teams of charioteers who raced around the hippodrome at great speed in clouds of dust and loud cries of encouragement to their horses.
We left Jerash and drove,literally, down to the Dead Sea for lunch and a float in the heavily salted water. We picked our way across the hot sand and sank into the warmth of the salt lake to watch other groups liberally coat themselves with mud, let it dry into some sort of black armour then wash it off and repeat for as long as good humour held out.