Ahlan wa Sahlan

Ahlan wa Sahlan

When landing in Amman almost everything went smoothly at the airport. The big box of my bike made the customs officials a bit uncertain at first. But soon they let me go. When assembling, I noticed that my front fork had a blow. In addition, a pan and the air knife was totally demolished.

At midnight I did not want to go any further. I would have to wait another 5 hours until sunrise. I noticed another defect. My front wheel had additionally captured 2 plates. After the repair, I was already able to slowly get into the saddle and make my way to Amman.
The fastest way was 35km over the highway. The breakdown strip was the best bike path I could drive for a long time. Suddenly a police car stopped me. The driver on the driver's side got out, shook my hand, and said in a very friendly way, "Welcome to Jordan." Not bad! Such a welcome is a great start. After 40 hours without sleep, I arrived completely exhausted in Amman and grabbed me the first hotel. Only after 14 hours of sleep did I manage to take a look at the city.

Since my mother did not want to visit me for a week, I had plenty of time to explore Amman. Amman is a modern city where Muslims and Christians (10%) live together. The current financial metropolis only began to grow after the founding of the state of Israel due to the flow of refugees from the West Bank to a large city (about 4 million inhabitants). Amman remained a small town until it began to grow rapidly in 1948 as a result of the influx of Palestinian refugees.

Beirut's decline in the 1970s and 1980s has made Amman the leading trading metropolis of the Middle East. The settlement in the valley of Wadi Amman has since developed into a city of millions.

During these raids, a shopkeeper approached me and immediately invited me for a coffee. In the store opposite I talked longer with a tailor. Abu Anas has been living in Amman for almost 50 years and has been able to tell me a lot about the city. He and his wife invited me to their home for menkaf. This is the national dish of Jordan and is mainly made from rice and meat (lamb or chicken).

What strikes you from the beginning here in Jordan is the warm welcome. Almost every person on the street greets you with "Ahlan wa Sahlan" (Welcome). I have never experienced anything like this in any other country.

After 9 days I was able to pick up my mother from the airport. She was pretty positively surprised by the people right from the beginning. What particularly pleased me was the large amount of chocolate she brought with her. But even the new pedals from the bike shop Leuthold are worth gold! We decided first to go to Madaba and explore the area from there.

The city founded by the Moabites is mentioned several times in the Bible. In the 1st century BC BC, the city came under Nabatean rule, from 106 AD, she was part of the Roman province of Arabia. In 746, an earthquake destroyed the city, which was then abandoned by the residents and deserted. In 1880 it was repopulated by Christians, where under rubble ancient mosaics were found.

Completed in 1913 Roman Catholic Church (on the highest point of the town) is on a partially more than 2000 years old crypt, in which, among other things, a grotto with the relic with the alleged head of John the Baptist, remains of ancient mosaics and a moabite fountain. The Greek Orthodox Church contains the famous mosaic of Madaba, which shows a map of Palestine from the 6th century.

Very close to Madaba is the mountain Nebo. At an altitude of 808 meters, it offers views of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and Israel. According to Deuteronomy, Mount Nebo is the mountain from which Moses was allowed to see the Promised Land but had to die without entering it.

In Mukawir we visited the Herod temple from where you have a great view of the Dead Sea. In antiquity, the castle guarded the Judean-Nabatean border area of the Jewish province Peraea. In the Jewish antiquities, Flavius Josephus reports the violent death of John the Baptist. There, it says in 18:11, "Herod had John bound in chains, taken to the fortress of Machaerus ... and executed there." The scriptures that record the death of John do not pinpoint the events. After the death of Agrippa (44 AD), the plant came into the possession of the Roman prefect of Judea.

Unfortunately there is no public transport on Kings Highway. Therefore we rented a taxi to make a stopover in Karak. The ruins of Karak Castle lie on a promontory about 1000 meters above sea level and are surrounded on three sides by a valley.

The place was inhabited at least since the Iron Age, was an important city of the Moabites and the Nabataeans. Due to its location east of the Jordan, Karak was able to control both the Bedouins and the trade routes from Damascus to Egypt and Mecca. Karak Castle is a well-known example of Crusader architecture, a mix of European, Byzantine and Arabic styles.

Most people here speak English pretty well. That's why we kept talking to our taxi drivers during our trips. Thereby we got to know a lot about Jordan. Almost 60% of the population are Palestinians living here in Jordan since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq have led to a dramatic increase in the population within a few years (about 3 million people since 2009). But also from Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan more and more people are pouring here.

After 5 hours of driving we reached Petra and are now looking forward to visiting the legendary city of the Nabataeans in the next few days.