The genesis for my first visit to the Holy Land was at the suggestion of my friend, Sarah, who went to Jordan last year. My trip was wonderful and, by the end of the holiday, I was sad to leave both Jordan and Israel.
Moses's view of the Promised Land from Mount Nebo After being very well looked after by Emirates on my flights to Amman via Dubai I stayed for four nights - over three visits - at the excellent Mariam Hotel in Madaba. Madaba is closer to the Dead Sea than the capital, Amman, and is well known for its mosaics in particular the one in St George's Church - the Church of the Map - which depicts the map of the Holy Land in biblical times.
I had read good reports of the Mariam but was nonetheless greatly touched by the friendliness of the staff, the size, comfort and cleanliness of the rooms and the more than adequate food and I would very much hope to return. The Baptismal site at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan
The Jordanian flag above Petra's Monastery During my stay in Jordan I hired a taxi one day which took me to Mount Nebo, renowned for being the spot where Moses saw the Promised Land before dying. The views over the tremendously barren area are breathtaking. After a windy ride down towards the Dead Sea the next stop was Jesus's baptismal site at Bethany
. Very well maintained and tranquil,there is an impressive church to John the Baptist next to the holy Jordan River and the whole experience is only available through a one and a half guided tour with commentary of the main sites for the equivalent of £11 and very well worthwhile it is. The final stop was at the Amman Tourist Beach Resort where I experienced the famous Dead Sea mud and dutifully floated in the sea which was great fun. Remember, though, to take flip-flops or similar as walking into the sea over the salt rocks on the shore is hard going!
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