After four days in Aqaba, enjoying the Red Sea, we rented a car and started
to drive back to Amman. We had a lot of objectives on our map, mostly castles,
and we manged to see only the most important of them. So, our first objective
was Kerak Castle, an old Crusader forteress oppened in 1142 to oversee the commercial
roads between Jerusalem, Damascus, Mecca and Egypt.
From Aqaba we took the highway following the western part of the country, near the border with Israel. It’s the fastest way to reach Kerak (Al-Karak), 250 km drive away, and we needed to be fast to be able to see the castle before 16:00 when the visiting hours were ending. So, we left Aqaba at 12:00, stopped for lunch on the highway and then driving to Kerak.
To reach Kerak, you have to drive for almost an hour outside the highway up
on the mountain. So, small damaged roads with endless curves are waiting for
you. If you have a bad stomach, think twice before doing this part. :p
However, once up on the mountain, in the middle of the castle ruins, you are
in the right position to thank God you took the journey. You can see everything
from up there, Al Karak city below and the roads looking like a small part of Transfăgărășan
road in Romania. Basically, you have a 360 degree view of the horizon! And if
you happen to be there close to the sunset, the view it’s breathtaking.
The place has a good energy and you may feel like staying for a while. So,
if you have a day, just enjoy the castle and also the city.
I am fascinated about old castles, hence for me it was a blessing being
there and walking inside the rooms preserved after so many centuries, and
imagine how everything used to look like at that time. Even if most of them where
built as strategic points of defense, I still find them fascinating.
Well, I am a huge fan of the famous movie „Kingdom of Heaven”. One of the most important battles of that time was in this area between Saladin, the frist sultan of Syria and Egypt and the conqurer of the Kingdom of Jerusalim from the Christian’s commands, and Raynald of Châtillon, prince of Antioch. Even if the movie was not shot there, I wanted to see the place and step into the energetic footprints of the people fighting for a „kingdom of conciousness” they understood at that time it’s made by stones and buildings.
In fact, if we are looking at the root cause of the current wars we are
facing today, we can easily see we are not that far from them. We are fighting
in diffrent countries for material things like land and properties, in the name
of the same God that we, as human beings, understood He promised us a material kingdom.
And if we look at Kerak Castle or other points of defence in history, we can understand
what will be left from today’s wars. Only ruins and a history painted by the
ones in a powerful position.
As I see it, the only way out from all the ancient patterns we are repeating over and over again is by rasing our level of counciousness, which will take us out of this reality to build the Kingdom of Heaven as it should be: a kingdom of counciousness embodied in human beings led by their inner voice of their true nature manifested as kindness and compassion for their own phisical manifestaion and for all the other beings around.
To be continued…
Check out the begining of the Jordanian adventure here:
Leaving Wadi Rum Desert is like leaving behind a treasure that belongs to your Soul. The good news is that I felt like taking with me the taste of the silent sand full of divine grace. And that feeling is so full of meanings and powerful understanding that fuels your body with the curiosity of the new adventure waiting to be lived in Aqaba.
So, we left Wadi Rum with a jeep
taking us into the village, and from there we took a cab (25 JOD for 2 people)
to Aqaba. This city is not present in the usual organized trips, but was one of
my dreams seeing this place. This is the Jordanian seaside, and after so many
dry days in Petra and Wadi Rum, taking a swim in the Red Sea, was the best
thing to do. The sea in the Aqaba bay is quite calm, salty, and good for
swimming. The two bothering things here are the laud music on the boats
transporting people in different points of the bay and the fact that the local
men are literally staring at the foreign ladies that are daring to go for a
swim to the public beach. They have this custom to sit on the beach or in the coffee
shops with a beach view, smoking shisha (narghile), drinking tea or coffee and looking
at the foreign ladies on the beach.
That’s why the government arrange
for a private beach in a 5 starts resort where you can go from the hotel
directly paying 11 JOD / person which included the transportation with a hop on
hop off bus, plus the entrance fee in the resort. Everything is 5 stars, and
you can also book a room and spend some days in there. Is 10 km away from the
city, just that is in the middle of nowhere so you feel like closed in there if
you don’t have a car to go to the city. And another disadvantage would be the
fact that the sea is not that still and calm as in Aqaba bay. Nevertheless, if
you want to spend a day there, it’s a good choice as it’s really quiet and
The city of Aqaba it’s an
ordinary city. Big, full of people that are less open-minded than the people in
the northern part of Jordan, even less open-minded that the people in Petra or
Wadi Rum. Initially I thought it was because of the fact that there are not too
many tourists in this city. Then I’ve noticed a lot of foreign people, so there
is another reason behind, I was not able to discover yet.
However, there were some nice
experiences we had in this place. First of all, the accommodation. We booked a double
room for 4 nights at Taj Hotel 3*, and we ended up receiving an upgrade to a
suite within the same price (122 EUR / 4 nights / 2 people). And this was not
just for us! I must confess that before booking the room, I was reading the
reviews and more people were saying the same thing. So, basically, I decided to
book this hotel hoping for the same treat. And it proved to be real! 😊
Now, you should not expect a 5* suite, however, having two rooms, a living room
and a small kitchen like in an aparthotel, was more than what we’ve expected. Honestly,
I think it’s a marketing trick, it’s actually their way of making you choosing
this hotel that is up on the hill, not next to the beach as the others. However,
if you enjoy a 5 minutes’ walk to the beach, it’s a very good choice and quality
for money. We’ve met a Romanian couple on the second day. They booked a 2-3*
hotel near the beach for one night, and they told us it was awful. So, I say
better uphill, in a suite! 😊
Then, the nicest part of this city
was the food. Even if it was very hard to find restaurants serving vegetarian dishes
as most of the restaurants and fast foods are selling only dishes with meat, we
finally found this place, Al-Tazaj, with an exquisite falafel, and excellent
sea food, and we suddenly became their loyal customers. We even took some
falafel sandwiches with us when we rented the car to drive back to Amman and
visit some other places on the way back.
Another nice thing to see in here
is the Aqaba Castle. We were there 15 minutes before the closing hour (4 pm),
and we did a quick tour. Then, the man in charge of the Castle came to us and offered
us a private tour inside and up on some of the parts of the Castle that were
closed. It was a great experience and we enjoyed a lot his way of showing us
where to sit to have the best pictures of the place.
If you have a look at the small
details around, Aqaba had a great positive aspect to be remembered here: the labels
with the real prices of the products in the shops and supermarkets. In Wadi
Musa, there were less honest people telling you the real price of the products,
moreover the prices were even 3 times bigger than in Aqaba. So, not feeling “rubbed”
at each corner was a big plus of this city!
Now, a strange thing happened when
we tried to rent a car. We went several times at Avis rent a car office asking
for a car and they continuously told us no car was available for the day we
were planning to leave. Moreover, they asked us to pay 35 to 50 JOD extra-charge
for taking the car in Aqaba and leaving it in Amman. So, I decided to check
this on the internet. And I managed to book a car via Ryanair app from the same
Avis office without paying any extra-fee for leaving the car in Amman. Briefly,
when in Jordan, you may want to book things on different sites and apps than
dealing with local people even if they are employed by big international companies.
The good news was that again I booked for an small car (Kia Picanto) and I
received an almost new big car (Kia Celina), so we were so comfortable driving
back and visiting around different places on the way back to Amman.
Going back to the less open-minded
people, we faced that again when I tried to visit a mosque. During the last day
of our staying in Aqaba, we went to see the mosque we were passing by each day
when we were going downhill to the beach. And once I entered the courtyard of
the mosque, the men started to fight each other to get me out of there. Some
were saying that it was not a problem for me to visit the mosque, others were completely
against the idea, and others were trying to make me pay 20 JOD for a hijab (a
long skirt plus a scarf to cover my head). At a certain point, when I was about
to leave the place, a man came and he was completely willing to help me entering
the mosque. So, he asked his wife to give me her hijab and a scarf to cover my
head and I was invited inside the mosque.
I sat there quietly thanking God for the presence of this man, and praying for a more understandable and peaceful world. After finishing my pray, I went outside to give them back the hijab and the scarf, and he started to explain me that we all have the same God, just that some people are seeing these things differently and I should understand and forgive them. And we agreed that we are all the sons of the same God, just the way we call God may be different like Allah, and the perspective may change from a mind to another. I thanked him for his way of seeing things and for his willingness to put an end to that fight, and I left the mosque full of hope that men, one day, will stop fighting for and in the name of God.
To be continued…
Check out the begining of the Jordanian adventure here: