Madaba should be your next stop after Amman on your way to Petra and the hotel you should check into is called the Mariam Hotel. It’s about a ten-minute walk to the town center where you can grab a bite to eat. There’s free wi-fi and the pool area is amazing…

…as is the restaurant and the small bottle-shop across the road. But the best thing is, the owners will have a private taxi driver come and pick you up and take you to all the sites you are there to see over a few days and drop you back at the end of each day. For about fifty bucks a night, per room, you can’t beat it.

The first day we arrived we checked-in, looked around town and took at look at Madaba’s most famous site, the Mosaic map in the 19th century Greek Orthodox St George’s Church.

Unearthed in 1864, the mosaic was once a clear map with 157 captions (in Greek) of all major biblical sites from Lebanon to Egypt. The mosaic was constructed AD 560 & once contained more than 2 million pieces, but only around a third of the whole picture now survives.

The next day we had to get up early. After the included catered breakfast, we did a full-day-tour where a taxi picked us up around 8 a.m. and took us on an unforgettable tour for about $40 AU each, as long as you can get two other people to share the cab with… And when I say a full-day, I’m not just whistling dixie.

We skipped Jerash and the Desert Castles, because we’d seen so many Roman ruins in Italy all ready. If you haven’t been to Italy and want to catch some authentic Roman ruins, you might want to do this though.

So, our first stop was Mount Nebo.

This is where it is said Moses is buried and was taken up into heaven by God himself.

Right below this tree, is said to be Moses’ spring.

Still up on Mount Nebo, you can see from this plaque that Israel, Bethlahem, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea are only a few kilometers away.

The cross on top of Mount Nebo features a snake-type shape entangling it. Different people have different views on this. Do some research and don’t believe the first thing you read.

Next up we walked to the Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan where it is said John the Baptist baptised Jesus in the Jordan River.

Just across the Jordan River, just over there in the picture, is where the Israel border begins. We could literally throw a stone into Israel, but I wouldn’t suggest it.

They have methods to stop you doing things like that.

Lorna and I were planning to spend a few days (we’d been told you need at least three) in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, just over the river, but apparently the border control can be brutal and time consuming, and we were running out of time to get to Petra.

Mount Nebo was well-worth visiting, but it was time to move-along and drive a few more hours in our private taxi to experience one of Jordan’s natural thermal springs and waterfalls, the Hammamat Ma’in Hot Springs.

Sounds like a huge day already right? Well, it’s not over.

Next up we visited the Dead Sea, something Lorna had been waiting and waiting for, for about three months. She’d keep telling me that you float to the surface against your will, can’t really swim on your tummy, and can hold all your arms and legs in the air, and still float.

And she was dead-right.  But, what she didn’t tell me was, if you swallow the water you nearly die from salt poisoning and if you get any water in your eye, you’ll wish you were dead.

And you know how woman pay mega-bucks for those mud packs that they smother all over their bodies and face to make ’em look younger and have silky-smooth skin? Well, the best mud in the world used to make those over-priced cosmetic products comes from this place.

So, we thought we may as well have a free mud-scrub and facial while we were there.

After this amazing and jam-packed day full of fun and relaxation, we took a few more photos from the Dead Sea panorama…

…before heading back to Madaba to prepare ourselves for the bus-ride the next day to what we’d been gunning to see for six months… ever since the very first day we rocked up to the airport in Perth, about to head off on our adventure.

To say we were looking forward to getting to Petra, is an understatement.

Rob Kaay is an Australian author and musician.

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