Up early it was, down to a buffet breakfast, which really did have just about anything you could hope for, both from a Middle Eastern diet and a Western perspective too. We got down to the beachside infinity pool and staked our claim to two beds, before heading down to the side of the Dead Sea and the pots of mud! I am sure that most people are aware of the properties of the Dead Sea Mud and the water itself and we decided that you couldn’t come to the Dead Sea and not cover yourself in the mud before going for a dip in the extremely salty sea.
After hiking for 6 hours in Petra and having the skin rubbed off the top of my 2nd toes on both feet, I was a little worried about just how much it was going to sting putting open wounds into the Dead Sea. However, after having covered myself in mud and the fact that is a good 10 degrees warmer in the Dead Sea as opposed to Petra, I had no choice and so dipped a toe in before sitting down in the water and then experiencing that oh so strange sensation of not sinking, but floating and bobbing along on the surface of the sea! It is again one of those things that needs to be experienced rather than described, so I won’t try! After bobbing around for a while, your skin really feels different, not least of which because the water almost seems oily whilst you are in there.
After a couple hours of baking in the 45 degree heat, it was time even for us seasoned Middle Eastern expats to get out of the sun. Referring to our bible, Lonely Planet Guide, we had planned to go and have a look at the ‘Dead Sea Panorama’ where there was a) amazing views down onto the Dead Sea b) a museum giving some history and background on the Dead Sea and c) a restaurant with some fine food and incredible views to enjoy whilst lunching. After a short winding trip back up to sea level and beyond we arrived at the site – we paid our 2JD’s each and drove in. In response to the 3 claims above, we were rewarded with exactly those three things. I would highly recommend getting yourself up to the Panorama at all costs. The views on a clear day are astounding, the museum room is incredibly interesting and informative and the food we had looking out over that view
was quite honestly the best meal we had in Jordan. As Dubai residents we are familiar with the Mezze offering of the menu, but the Kibbe, Sambousek and Arayes were excellent and the two local dishes we tried, the Mashed walnut dip and the Shanklish were absolutely phenomenal. Try both with the warm Arabic bread that accompanies most Arabic fare. The walnut dip is an extremely tasty offering with a slight hint of chili mashed in and the Shanklish is a local blue cheese mixed with tomatoes onion and parsley and a hint of chili, again, the level of food we had experienced thus far was of a distinctly average standard and this meal was just wonderful! Perhaps a mixture of the view, not being in the baking sun and the fact that along with Naomi and me there was only 2 other people in the vicinity, made this one of the highlights of the trip.
After such a rewarding trip we made our way back down to below sea level as Naomi had convinced me that a hot/cold stone massage at the renowned Spa would be a good idea. So we made use of the Spa facilities, more private infinity pool, hydro chairs, Dead Sea Pools and juice bar prior to going in for the treatment. I have never had this kind of treatment before and have to say that after this one I won’t be doing it again. The initial feeling is very relaxing and unusual, but for me to be left face down for 10 minutes with hot stones down my back and in my hands, with my face on the plastic face rest as the end of the treatment did not leave me feeling relaxed. It was very uncomfortable and I think this mixed with the day in the sun; lead to me feeling quite sick and upon returning to the room had a 30 minute nap to get back on track!! Luckily, this also provided Naomi with an opportunity to get some great shots of the sunset from our balcony
As tends to be the way on holiday, it was then time to eat again! It had gotten quite late by this stage and we didn’t really want to have to sample another one of the resorts restaurants, so we decided we would give the bar in the lobby a shot and see if the bar food would fill the hole and it did. A couple of cold beers and some bar snacks rounded of yet another wonderful day on the shores of the Dead Sea. Bed was calling, so we duly obliged.
A final round of mud baking and Dead Sea bobbing beckoned, so we were up early again, down for a good breakfast and down to ‘our spot’ by the beach infinity pool. The it was onto the shore and a full body mud mask, coupled with 15 minutes baking it on in the sun before plunging into the Dead Sea to wash it all off. For some reason today it felt like the 31% salt content had gone up as my poor toes were really stinging (good for the healing process though) and I also managed to not only once, but twice get Dead Sea in my eyes, which I can testify to, hurts like hell!! A fellow bather had a more exaggerated reaction which had the lifeguard running towards him, hose in hand to splash his face with fresh water! Having enriched our skin with more natural minerals it was time for some chill time by the pool with a book and for me, a big umbrella providing some shade, as I think that my funny turn the previous evening was a combination of the stone treatment and too much sun. Sitting by the pool, looking out over the Dead Sea, glass like in its stillness, with a good book, is a highly recommended way to wile away a couple of hours if you find yourself in Jordan.
As we were catching our flight out that evening, we had one more stop that we wanted to make whilst we were there and that was at Bethany beyond the Jordan – the baptism site of Jesus Christ. We didn’t really time the trip very well as we ended up, sitting in the open back of the tour truck at the hottest part of the day, 12 noon. The blistering heat didn’t take away from actually being at this special site. The actual baptism spot is somewhat of an anti climax. This is mainly due to the fact that the River Jordan is now a polluted trickle compared to what it would have been a couple of thousand years ago. The various ruins and the very entertaining guide – Hassan, make this little tour a must see for people of any religion. It is quite humbling to be in this place, walk by the banks of the River Jordan and be within touching distance of Israel or Palestine depending on your persuasion. We returned to the drop off point in the back of the open tour truck and continued on our trip up the Dead Sea highway, around the South of Amman and back down to Queen Alia Airport in order to catch our flight. Depending on who you are flying with and whether you have a Priority Pass, you can spend the couple hours waiting time in comfort in the Crown Lounge, where you have complimentary internet access, food, drinks, televisions, showers and bedrooms if you require. The last two being chargeable services. So as our trip came to an end, the airport lounge was a perfect place to start recounting the amazing 5 days we had spent in Jordan and as luck would have it for you, the perfect place to start writing this blog!
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- Crossing Jordan (brilliantmagazine.com)