On Easter weekend, we decided to go around town and discover new spots to hang out at (mostly, i do the discovering…since being new here and all). I was quite energetic and wanted to take advantage of every second of that day; didn’t want to waste it at home. We ended up going to Deir Hajla, a small town just 15 minutes outside of Jericho to visit the St Gerasimos Monastery; one of the oldest churches in Palestine (founded in the 5th century). It was super exciting to see, I love visiting churches (some creep me out, not gonna lie) and seeing people committed and concentrated on praying. There were a few sisters around that day that welcomed us warmly although they were occupied preparing for Easter Sunday. It’s a Greek Orthodox Church and it was so beautifully ornamented on the inside in gold and baby blue colors. The light was a little too dim for me to take loads of pictures, but I snapped what I could. The church ceiling was high and meticulously worked with metals and stones. The wooden benches were stacked perfectly one behind the other giving us enough space to walk around and enjoy the monuments placed carefully around the place. There were a couple of skulls in glass boxes around the church of martyred monks. The Monastery was destroyed and restored a couple of time and they still continue their work on it to this day. What’s interesting about the history of this particular Monastery is that apparently is was a refuge for Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus. They hid in a cave here during their flight from Herod. An underground chapel was built on the spot where tradition has it the Holy Family spent the night.
We ended up having a quick supper that day and by quick, I mean falafel sandwiches, not my favourite, but it worked…since I am not enjoying meat and poultry so much these days. The day was a bit grim and a little but windy, so I ended up dressing in something a little more colourful to brighten the grey of the day. So here are a few pictures of today’s adventures and outfit.
Falafel has made me a little bit of a bloated mess..so I looked extra pregnant, but I still made it work. Plus, wearing a skirt helped a lot.
What I wore
SHIRT: Max ♠ SKIRT: Stradivarius ♠ NECK TIE: Vintage ♠ SHOES: Thrifted ♠ BAG: Aldo ♠ SUNGLASSES: Kate Spade
For those planning to travel around this region, I suggest you strongly visit this church, it’s freaking amazing! Plus, I has a little coffee shop and playing area for children, so you get to enjoy it and have a picnic. I know that a lot of pilgrims add it to their list of places to visit while on their praying/religious journey to the Holy Land…but for those who don’t know about it (like me), then here you go! Take the time and plan it out!
I was lucky enough to spend an entire month in Jordan this past summer. It was not only the most liberating experience ever, but it literally exchanged my life (that’s a major understatement p.s.)!!! I grew stronger, I became happier, I met loads of people, I made genuine friendships, I ate awesome food and most importantly I found myself.
I took endless pictures and I keep talking about it till now. Guilty! I am!!! I so full on take advantage of every opportunity to talk about how AH-MAZING my trip was.
For those who don’t know, Jordan is a monarchy in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. It is a country rich in culture, history and heritage. Jordan is filled with historical and architectural remains of the Roman/Ottoman/Byzantine empires. The country is mostly desert but every location has a story to tell.
I am sharing with you the things I did in Jordan for 4 weeks and I am warning you that this is going to be picture heavy!!
This river has religious significance, but more importantly in Judaism and Christianity. This site is considered holy and loads of pilgrims go to it every year to repent. This is the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist. In Arabic, the baptism location is called Al-Maghtas. There are only ruins that remain on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River. The River is divided by Israel and a part of it belongs to Jordan. In the Jordanian side, that’s where we find the site to Jesus’ baptism and the ministry of John the Baptist.
Jerash is the site of the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa. This city is considered one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities in the Near East. There are many visible remains in the Greco-Roman Jerash which include, the Corinthium columns, Hadrian’s Arch, the circus/hippodrome, two large temples (dedicated to Zeus and Artemis), the oval Forum, which is surrounded by a fine colonnade, the long colonnaded street, two theatres (the Large South Theatre and smaller North Theatre), two communal baths, and a scattering of small temples and a lot more.
This is a very big tourist attraction in Jordan and in one of the theaters, every summer, there’s the Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts that takes place (an annual celebration of Arabic and international culture).
~Hot water springs & Dead Sea~
The Ma’in Hot Springs are a series of hot mineral springs and waterfalls located between Madaba and the Dead Sea. It;s therapeutic, it’s remarkable, it’s breathtakingly beautiful! The minute you get to the location, you can instantly smell the minerals in the air. There are degrees of heat open to the public from moderately hot to extremely hot. There are caves with natural sauna effects and pools to bathe in. For a day of relaxing, this is definitely a place to visit. These falls originate from winter rainfalls in the highland plains of Jordan and eventually feed the hot and cold springs in the valley. This water is heated to temperatures of up to 63° Celsius by underground lava fissures as it makes its way through the valley before emptying into the Zarqa River.
The Dead Sea is of course famous for the extreme levels of salt in the water. The reason why they call it dead sea is due to the salt and that there are no living creatures there. It’s so salty that we can’t even drown, the body just floats! A lot of people in Jordan go there to seek remedies for skin issues such as eczema.
This was always ALWAYS on my bucket list. I think any Indiana Jones avid fan would want to see this city. Petra is one of the 7 wonders of the world because of many different reasons. The impossibly intricate mind boggling architectural detailing of this city is reason enough for this to be a wonder <3.
Petra was known as the capital city of the Arab Nabataeans. Reasearch and the remains show the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply that led to the rise of the desert city, creating an artificial oasis.
The impressive main entrance to the city leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge, a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks and serving as a waterway flowing into Wadi Musa. At the end of the narrow gorge, we find Petra’s most elaborate ruin; the famous Khazneh (Treasury in arabic). This treasury remains in a remarkably preserved condition. A little farther from the treasury, at the foot of the mountain, there’s a massive theatre and a great of tombs. Tombs that are separated by class..those of the poor and those of the rich. Past those tombs, there we find the valley which opens out into the plain and where the site of the city is revealed with striking effect.
Wadi Rum..oh Wadi Rum <3 If you ever want to experience camping at its best, then go to Wadi Rum. This place is also known as The Valley of the Moon because of its resemblance to Mars with its red sands. When the sun sets, this is when the magic happens; you see the constellations, the stars, feel the desert air and smell freedom. This is the largest wadi in Jordan. The Nabateans also inhabited this place as they left some of their marks in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. This place is also known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who passed through several times during the Arab Revolt. It is also a place where many climbers and trekkers find refuge.
I had the chance to sleep in a tent and experience the true Jordanian desert with good food, great company and music. Along with going on a 4 long hour ATV desert tours, you can choose to camp under the stars, ride Arab horses, hike and rock-climb among the massive rock formations.
Aqaba is the only coastal city of Jordan and it is Jordan’s main port site due to its strategic location at the northeastern tip of the Red Sea. But for those who really want to indulge in the full nine yards of awesome vacationing…well better go to Aqaba. The beach off the Mövenpick is just glorious. The smell alone is to die for (any beach avid would know what I am taking about)!!! Aqaba is a major tourist attraction and it is known as a liberal Arab city. Along with relaxing and tanning by the beach, you can go on boat rides, snorkel, jet-ski, and!! you can even go antiquing.
~Umm Qais & The sea of Galilee (aka Lake Tiberias)~
This is small place in Irbid, in the northern part of Jordan that borders Israel and Syria. Umm Qias is a place principally known for its proximity to the ruins of the ancient Gadara. There are castle remains of the Roman/Byzantine area. Umm Qais overlooks the Sea of Tiberias, the Golan Heights, and the Yarmouk River gorge. The Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel. The lake is fed partly by underground springs and the Jordan River (which flows through it from north to south). For those who have an infinite love of history and culture, they’ll definitely enjoy a visit to this city. It was touching, especially to my parents being close (but not close enough) to their homeland. I found it beautiful but quite eerie being this close to Syria, as you can hear the emptiness through the trees.
Last but not least (I know this post is like 99 years long), I visited Ajlun castle. A 12th-century Muslim building, situated in northwestern Jordan, this caslte is rich in history. It was built by the Ayyubids in the 12th century and enlarged by the Mamluks in the 13th. The name Ajlun goes back to a Christian monk who lived on this mountain in the Byzantine Period and the castle stands on the ruins of a monastery.
The fortress was built by Izz al-Din Usama, a commander and nephew of Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin). This fortress was primarily built in order to help the authorities in Damascus control the Bedouin tribes. What’s interesting is that Ajlun Castle is one of the very few Muslim fortresses built by the Ayyubids to protect their realm against Crusader incursions. From its location, the fortress dominated a wide stretch of the northern Jordan Valley. It certainly baffled me with the intricate detailing..it felt surreal to be there and see and the effort put into building a strong protective castle. It is a must see!!
I tried to cram everything down here in one post. But honestly, a lot of these pictures and descriptions don’t do this country justice. Every place I visited touched and marked me in such a positive way <3 I am smarter because of this experience…not only about my own culture and others as well. Being Arabic but raised in Montreal all my life…is sometimes hard. And to know everything is just a bit confusing. So, this trip was very enriching and it made me appreciate having the chance and opportunity to travel and see such a culturally rich county. I will forever cherish this trip!