Today was "D" day in which Michel and I joined the group for the start of our adventure tour, our adventure tour being called "Jordan Experience". Excited, you bet we were! The moment so much waited for was about to start! Ahead of us, a multitude of places to visit were about to be realized!
After meeting everyone in the hotel's lobby, our Tour Director introduced himself as Rod and would be traveling with us for the next several days. He spoke quite well in English as he informed us that in total, we were a group of 34 people and as transportation, we had a luxury 40 seater motorcoach with toilet facilities.
Since Michel and I were the first ones to board the motorcoach, we elected to sit way in the front, just behind the driver giving us an excellent view for picture opportunities. :-)
We departed the Crowne Plaza Amman hotel around 8:00am en route to Jerash, a good 50km north of Amman. Along the way, the scenery once again proved that Jordan was a modern country, vibrant but with a flavor of ancient times.
Arriving in Jerash, I was blown away by the beauty of this ancient Greco-Roman city that we were just about to explore. As Rod explained to us, Jerash was conquered in 63 BC and became one of the great Roman cities before much of it disappeared under the desert sands, to remain hidden for hundreds of years. Today, visitors have an overwhelming range of Roman architecture to discover. That sounded quite good to my ears as we walked to the entrance being through the massive Hadrian arch, named after the Emperor in 129 AD, that lead to an oval shaped Hippodrome.
The Hippodrome was the area in which the Romans watched chariot races. Apparently, even today the Jordanians dresses up as Roman legionaries doing military exercises and 'real' chariot races. Unfortunately, none was scheduled for today!
Further along the path was a massive oval shaped 'forum' which was surrounded by a series of huge pillars which formed a colonnade. I amused myself running and jumping all around them, snapping pictures along the way.
By then, the weather was warmer allowing me to take off my coat as I proceeded to follow the group in the direction of a Temple dedicated to Zeus and another one dedicated to his daughter Artemis. What amazed me the most was that years ago, I used to hear these names such as Zeus in animations or movies and that today, I was standing right here, in person, next to these temples! Never even imagined that they were in Jordan! Never too late to learn!
As we made our way up the "Street of Columns" which was quite impressive, Rod pointed to us the track marks that the chariots and carts left on the pavement stones centuries ago and that were still visible today. As he explained, these were reminders to us that people really lived here in such a long time ago. Around the colonnade street, various small temples, bathhouses and houses laid in ruins.
We then made our way to the Roman Amphitheater which was a stunning beauty with its massive rocks and steps leading way up to the sky in a half circular moon form. Huge steps had to be taken in order to reach the top of the amphitheater due to the size of the rocks. Once at the top, the view of the ancient city of Jerash as well as the modern one in the background was phenomenal plus the acoustic sound produced by the pipers playing their musical instruments in the middle of the amphitheater was extraordinary as it echoed away all around us.
As I sat comfortably on one of the rocks, way, way up at the top of the amphitheater overlooking this amazing view being displayed in front of me on this bright sunny day, I just couldn't help but imagine how life must have been like 2000 years ago living right here in this ancient Greco-Roman city. I just couldn't help but think that I was sitting in a spot where centuries ago, people all dressed up in their Roman robes actually sat at the exact same spot watching way, way down below, in the middle of the amphitheater, some kind of entertainment being played for them. Imagine!....Just imagine a moment in time!....Here I was daydreaming again... Time travels fast, grab it while you can!
Full speed again, more than 2000 years later, today, surrounding this impressive ancient Greco-Roman city, a modern city of Jerash stood high and proud in the background making us compare the old and the new!
Through all of these impressive ruins, Michel and I walked for several hours by which we finally retreated to our motorcoach around noon time heading south for our next adventure!
Thankful for Greco-Roman ruins!