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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Jerusalem and Back

One should never travel from Jordan to Jerusalem and back in one day. This is incredibly wrong for all sorts of reasons.

I have to get off the computer so below is part of my email to James, minus the cuddles and schmoopy stuff.

We made it to Jerusalem today but holy cow in a hand basket. That was an expensive whim. We left the hotel at 7:30, drove 25 minutes to the border (150 Jordanian Dinar, like 300 bucks). Then we took a bus over the bridge. Getting your passport stamped to go was a 5 step process. We had to find someone who spoke English to explain because we had no idea what to do. Then we waited and waited and waited. The bus left at 9:30. There were about 5 border guards to go through. People coming on the bus and checking passports, stamps, passports, stamps. Then we got to the border and had to get off the bus. I don’t know why. We eventually got to the other side and then had to go through security and immigration. That was a nightmare. Lines of people everywhere. Bags everywhere. Now instead of just not understanding Arabic, I didn’t understand Arabic or Hebrew. We finally left the airport security at 11:30. 7:30 to 11:30 in transit.

After paying 75 sheckles (no idea what that is in Canadian) we were off to Old Jerusalem with about 2 hours to walk about because the bridge was closing at 4 pm. Some days it closes at 8 pm, some days at 2 pm. I figured today at 4 was pretty good considering our strange trip.

We were dropped off at a gate to the old city, no idea which gate but we wandered in. There was zero time to see any of the sites because we had no idea where we were going. We did stumble upon the Western Wall or weeping wall and I went to have a look and took some pictures. I really wanted to see dome of the rock and holy scelpture but I did get mango juice with a smile in an Arab restaurant off the path. They ask you to smile in the Middle East. I think it’s to tell if you are German or American—the only two countries who will grimace first (I understand this from our taxi driver).

More wandering and then we had to catch the taxi, 200 sheckles back to the airport. And there’s an exit fee of 150 sheckles each. This is a lot of money for 1 day. In total I think we spent over 1000 dollars (I have to check the exchange but I’m terrified to know). F-sharp.

Rabbit was really pleased though. She hasn’t been on that kind of trip before. Never crossed a crazy border. It was rather indiana jones of us. We did not get shot at. I was impressed though by all the security guards. No uniforms, just regular Western clothes, jeans, polo shirt, GD-large gun.

I’m glad Rabbit was happy. It was a funny trip all around.

Quick aside, we are paying another 200 JD to go to the Dead Sea. And 160 JD to fly to Aqaba plus 3 nights in a hotel there. I also have no hot water—2 days without. The customer service guy is beside himself and wants to quit the hotel. It’s a weird country.

Everyone is Jordan is really, really welcoming. Embarassingly so. They are affectionate and jokers and give you tea and basically anything. It’s beyond the friendliness of Turkey. Today I walked out of a shop with a bag of cookies because the boy was insistant that I take them.

9th we go to the Dead Sea, 12-15 to Aqaba, then to Egypt.

Thank you to everyone who sent me notes, they made me feel very happy.

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