What can you do in 24 hours? Is it enough time to visit a cultural icon? Discover a country you didn’t quite understand existed? Build memories of a lifetime? We certainly think so.
Bella found a great deal one summer afternoon. Detroit to Amman, Jordan for essentially half price. The only caveat was the timing. Fly out the day after Christmas and back the day after New Year’s. It was perfect.
We watched Lawrence of Arabia and planned our itinerary to squeeze the most out of our time there. Other than Petra, Jerash, and the Dead Sea, all we read said we should spend at least three days in Wadi Rum. We decided to book a tour that included a night in the desert.
The plan was arrive late at night, pick up the rental car, drive to Wadi Rum, and begin our tour in the morning. We woke up in the car to this.
After sharing pitas warmed over the fire and tea, our tour began. We took picture after picture of rocks and mountains while freezing in the back of that pickup truck. After a couple of hours it dawned on us that everything looked the same… As in, wether we saw another four hours of mountains or if we stopped that moment, we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So we told the guy driving a truck with this license plate that we wanted to be dropped off in the parking lot instead of spending the night in their camp.
Gaining a day earned us an afternoon in Aqaba and, after visiting Petra, we still made it to the Dead Sea ahead of schedule, where we checked into a Holiday Inn with a metal detector in the main entrance. Just across the Sea we could see Israel. With time in our schedule we suddenly had an opportunity to see the Promised Land.
The hurdle we needed to overcome was our single entry visas we bought in Southfield, Michigan. Research told us the best crossing was the King Hussein or Allenby Bridge. All accounts indicated that visas weren’t issued there. Once we realized that’s because one wasn’t needed we reorganized our trip. We saw Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Lot’s Cave, Madaba, and we planned to see the Roman ruins in Jerash the morning of December 30th before crossing into Israel. Instead, we drove to the border and spent the night in the car at the entrance of the bridge, waiting for it to open.
Morning came and we navigated the Byzantine process of crossing the border. We almost backed out when a lady on the bus tried to tell us the border was closed on New Year’s Day, but we pressed on with assurances from the border guards. “No problem!”
Security was tight. The young lady stamping our passports warned us to stay out of Palestine. No problem, right?
After a short cab ride, we arrived in Jerusalem and set off on the Via Dolorosa.
We saw the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The Western Wall (protected by metal detectors)
The Dome of the Rock
The Mount of Olives
The Garden of Gethsemane
The Church of the Nativity
The Palestinian border
The city of Jericho
Until next time….