When the plane started making its descent at the Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan I was hooked to my window seat. If someone could have seen me from the other side, they would find my face quashed flat against the window. The landscape unfolding beneath was unlike any other I had seen ever before! It held me completely in its thrall.
I was traveling to Jordan on an invitation from Jordan Tourism Board. This has been my maiden trip to middle east! The Jordan trip is always going to be special for me because I got to photograph Pope Francis on this visit!
Most of Jordan is an arid desert but even in my wildest dreams I never imagined that it would look so fascinating from the air! My first stop in the country was also an equally fascinating place, the Dead Sea. Contrary to the name it is actually a lake bordering Jordan, Palestine and Israel.
At Dead Sea we were hosted by the Holiday Inn. First things first, the resort has a free wifi access. What you see in the picture is the pool area and behind that near the horizon is the Dead Sea. I had a comfortable stay at the resort.
Before my visit my niece was quite excited as she was reading about Dead Sea in her school. Dead Sea is 427 meters below sea level. It is one of the most saline lakes in the world. I had infinite fun at the place but that is surely a separate post.
As our primary mandate in Jordan was to cover the Pope’s visit the sightseeing was also around the biblical places. Mount Nebo finds a mention in the bible as the place from where Moses got a glimpse of the holy land though he could never enter it. Our guide Salah told us that on a clear day one could see Jerusalem from Mount Nebo. The group you see in the picture was from a Kerala Church doing a Holy Land tour. Church tours are very popular in the region.
There are outstanding pieces of mosaic art all over in Jordan. The most famous is the mosaic map of the Holy Land at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George which belongs to 6th century. It was rediscovered in 1896. The mosaics on the church’s walls were equally impressive.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan is the ancient site where it is said that John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ. My mind simply fails to comprehend the significance of the idea! However, its modern day manifestation is an equally fascinating. Jordan River flows close to the baptism site and you can see that I am sitting in Jordan. However, across the river is Israel! So if you wish to travel without visa to Israel you simply need to get pushed across! There was a mild visible presence of soldiers on both the sides, so I have warned you too. So, however much I craved for the visa less travel, I firmly remained on the Jordanian side.
Being a vegetarian I rarely get excited about food when I travel to other countries. Jordan proved me wrong. They have a culture of serving Mezze or small dishes before the main meal. It used to be served with hummus, flat Arabic bread and the salads were lip smacking with many vegetarian choices. They would always find something vegetarian for me for the main course as well, but I could happily live on the salads for the entire trip. Food was certainly a wonderful surprise for me on this trip.
Then came one of the most memorable events of my life, when I attended the Pope’s mass at Amman Stadium and got to photograph Pope Francis! Never even in my dreams I thought I would such an opportunity and that too because 9 years ago I decided to start a blog!
We were hosted at Grand Hyatt in Amman, which was once again a luxurious property. The wifi is not free in the rooms at Hyatt but Jordan Tourism Board had arranged free access for us which was much appreciated. The breakfast buffet at the hotel was lavish. Wifi is free in the lobby.
Sheesha is very popular at restaurants in Jordan both with women and men. For the first time in my life I took a few mild puffs and quickly decided it was not for me. Even those timid whiffs gave a sore throat for the next half an hour!
Our last day was devoted to exploring the city of Amman. It has a huge refugee population and the dense housing you see in the picture are Palestinian settlements. I feel I have not even scratched the surface of this amazing country but for me it will always remain special because of the opportunity to photograph the pope.
Before going to Jordan I was searching on the net to see what I could figure about dress code for women in Jordan. What I read, surprised me a little. I figured out that wearing sleeveless shirts was not such a good idea, neither was wearing shorts, nor a short dress. I was curious to see if this really would be true. I have now come back from Jordan and I have to say it is largely true. There are exceptions but you are better off dressing a bit conservatively. Resort beaches are an exception.
Jeans and T-shirt are a safe bet in Jordan, locals wear it, tourists wear it and no one gives a second glance. I once wore a capri too and never felt conscious. But I wore more jeans and full length trousers with T-shirts than anything else.
It is not that no one wore shorts and sleeveless dresses but they were really far and few in between. I can wear shorts in a few countries but I would surely feel out of place if I wore it at Jordan.
Once again I saw women wearing short dress as well, but I have to say it would be 1 in 10 who would dress like this. The good bit, nothing happens, you are not barred from entering many sites (but some religious sites would surely be off limits) but you might stand out a little.
This was on the day of the Pope’s visit to Amman. I was sitting in the media bus which was moving too slowly when I saw this scene. I was wondering if it was more common in Amman to wear a dress but I doubt it. On the last day of my trip I was in Amman Mall for two hours. And all I saw was women in jeans and T-shirt. In two hours I saw one woman in a dress.
Even jeans and sleeveless shirts were mostly worn by tourists. I wore a sleeveless shirt in flight but when I got down at Amman Airport I put a warp around. And I was not out of place by doing so. I would have been more out of place if I didn’t do it.
This well dressed woman was walking on the streets of Madaba, Jordan. Many local women use head scarf but dress quite stylishly. They drive cars in numbers.
In spite of the weather being warm full sleeve shirts are quite common. I clicked this lady during the pope’s mass and she looked quite thrilled with whatever she captured.
As I said before people dress quite stylishly but cover up a bit more than what many are used to in their home countries. This woman was waiting for the pope to arrive, like everyone else.
Resort Beaches are an exception to the general jeans T-shirt cover up a bit more rule in Jordan. It is the norm to wear swim suites and bikini on resort beaches, you will not be out of place. But then some woman use the head gear on a beach too.
When I do a dress code for women post, I try to present what I saw people were actually wearing on the location. My own dress sense is dowdy so no point in showing what I wore. Even though tourists dressed pretty much how they dressed elsewhere, they were few in numbers. I would say pack a few jeans and T-shirts/shirts and you would not go wrong. Covering up is the norm in Jordan but in tourist places like Amman, Madaba and Bethany some tourists dress up the way they might anywhere else. I would say you blend in more easily with trousers and shirts with sleeves or full length skirts.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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