Day 21: Jerash
This morning we set off for a day trip to Jerash (or Jarash) which is about 45km north of Amman to see the Roman ruins there. We were able to easily catch the bus from the north bus station with the help of Muath and Eefje and the taxi driver who brought us right to where the bus was waiting. Buses in Jordan (intercity ones anyway) wait to fill the bus and then leave. By some crazy miracle, we were the last 2 people on the bus. The best part? That door to door, probably 15 minute taxi ride cost us 2JD (less than 4$).
Once we’d seated ourselves (a big thanks to the 2 men who re-seated themselves to accommodate us!), we set off. Here are some fun facts about our ride to Jerash:
1. Buses don’t stop every 6 seconds to drop off and pick up like they do in Turkey.
2. Jordan is on the whole much hillier than I had thought.
3. Camels are not uncommonly spotted at roadsides, much like herds of goats and sheep.
4. There are speed bumps on the highways. What?!
5. The bus will cost you 1 JD each. Don’t wait until the entire bus is telling you, ‘You’re here! Get off!’ while stopped at a left turn light to fumble for two 1JD bills. It makes for an embarrassing and possibly dangerous adventure.
Regardless of our most ungrateful exit, we had made it to our destination unscathed. The Roman ruins we had come to see lay just in front of us, easily accessed and costing a minimal amount for entry. Hadrian’s Gate and the Hippodrome (and the touts) greet you first both still fairly intact.
We were accosted a couple of times as we made our way down the road by teenage – ish girls wanting to take photos with us. We are all over someone’s Facebook and Instagram now I’m sure.
Continuing along, we came to the beautiful main Cardo and could truly see how extensive the ruins were.
Coming into the big odeon was rather spectacular: just as we were walking up the hill to it, four fighter jets zoomed over us in the direction of the Syrian border and then we were set upon by another group of girls wanting photos with us. We decided we should start charging 5JD per photo! Finally, our entrance into the Odeon was heralded by….bagpipes?! Sure enough, there was a group of 4 or 5 musicians dressed in traditional Jordanian garb playing some music.
The girls we took photos with had come in to the Odeon too, and seemed to be doing some kind of special photo shoot with signs labeled ‘Generations for Peace’ although none of them could quite explain this and preferred to keep taking pics with us and play with my hair.
Our wee tour continued through ruins and fields of grass and flowers, dotted with herds of goats and sheep. Ever the animal lover (Leah has nicknamed me “Nurse Doolittle”), I ventured off to snap a few pics and make some new friends. Leah said, “I turned around and you weren’t there and I thought, well, she’s joined the herd!”
The rest of our visit was lovely just strolling through the ruins. Leah met the “moving column” man Eefje had warned us about so was prepared to ward off his advances.
Our way home was a bit of a struggle as we got varying information from a couple sources regarding bus vs taxi. We were told ‘no more bus! Bus done!’ by several people but we knew that I’m fact there was a bus. Unfortunately, we did not know the exact location of the bus station so Leah haggled and bartered while I played it cool and skeptical on the sidelines and we ended up getting a taxi from Jerash direct to Paris circle for 2JD each which us what we’d paid in total for the journey there. Hoping to goodness this was not some sort of elaborate kidnapping attempt and with our knees to our chest in a squished cab, we headed for Amman.
Luckily our cabbie avoided accidents and safely delivered us to Paris circle where we promptly rewarded ourselves for a hard days work with lunch at Oliva. This cute little restaurant is just down from Paris circle and has delicious, freshly made oven fired pizzas.
Our bellies full, we grabbed a few pastries from Feyrouz’s bakery for dinner that night and headed back to relax at Hawa with Malcolm and the gang.