France & Switzerland
by foie gras
I've combined these destinations into one installment, due to the brevity of my visit or lack of horological interest.
After touching down in Tel Aviv, I was met by my parents who own a flat north of the city. After a day spent in Israel, we proceeded on a 4 day guided visit of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, now at peace with Israel following signing of the historic peace treaty. Following an extended taxi ride in Israel to a boarder crossing (Sheik Hussein Bridge), we crossed the bridge into Jordan. Our university trained bilingual Jordanian guide and driver,
met us on the Jordanian side of the bridge. Ethnically, he was a Catholic Bedouin. His background in history and archeology was most useful during our visit.
Highlights of our visit included
Jerash, a site of Roman ruins and
Amman, a surprisingly clean and modern capital city. I saw less trash in the streets of Amman then you would find in Zurich or Geneva; by comparison, the streets of London, Paris, Rome, or any American or Canadian city would be extremely filthy. Another surprise (to me) was the immaculately clean and well-stocked restrooms we found throughout the country. Never once in 4 days did we experience an unclean restroom or one without soap, paper towels, or a hand dryer. Jordan set a new standard for public restrooms, beyond what I have seen in any other supposedly "civilized" country.
Petra was another highlight of our trip.
Petra is an ancient Nabatean city carved in Sandstone hills, dating back a couple of thousand years. The Romans ultimately took over the area, and their influence is felt as well. Some of the buildings have been featured in well-known movies, such as the Indiana Jones series starring Harrision Ford. These structures are much more impressive in person than they are in my pictures. Surprisingly (to me) the interiors of the buildings are very plan and simple; they are basically square or rectangular boxes.While in Petra I encountered a Bedouin Arab selling souvenirs who on prolonged questioning claimed to have an authentic Roman Pottery Oil Lamp recovered by grave robbers. After considerable discussion I decided I believed him. This lamp measured 8.75 cm x 6.5 cm x 2.4 cm, and is shown in the following pictures:
Is this an authentic 2000 year old Roman artifact, or is it a fake???
The last major site on our visit to Jordan was
an area of sandstone geological formations very reminiscent of the "Four Corners" area of the American Southwest. We explored this national park with a kamikaze Bedouin Jeep driver. Fortunately nothing got in our way as we traversed the sandy valley, or it would have been toast.
CONTINUE TO PART TWO OF ARTICLE