Claire: cycling in Jordan is more like sightseeing on a bike! It's only small but the last 500 kilometers have taken us almost 10 days. And now we've been in a beach resort on the Red Sea for the last 5 days and I'm loving it! Nice croissants for breakfast, reading an English newspaper on your beach-lounger under the parasol and swimming in the sea to cool off. Oh I almost forgot the white wine on the terrace at night. And the spa with sauna...
Dan: Cycling in Jordan blows goats! Syria is so much nicer :o)
Claire: Oh stop moaning!
Dan: Ok the landscape is amazing, but the whole place feels designed to rip you off...and the hills are very, very big! It’s the first place where the people have started to become annoying and amazingly the universal 'welcome to Jordan' that everyone says is really getting up my nose (as it's usually accompanied by 'that'll be 20 times the price a local would pay...but hey you're white so it's ok for us to cheat you!'). But to be honest it's not that bad, just a little galling when Jordanians pay 1 euro (90p) for entry to Petra and foreigners pay 50 euro (£45!!!!) and it’s really not worth half of that. PISSES ME OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Claire: Petra is an amazing place. It’s a huge city of houses and big buildings carved out in the red/pink rocks, a lot bigger than only the famous Indiana Jones building. You walk through a big gorge and can go exploring in the hills and find cave houses and carved out steps everywhere. But I agree, you don’t want to pay 50 euro for any museum or ruin anywhere in the world. It really is excessive. And the local hotel people are not happy with the government raise in price at all because it might keep people away from Petra.
Dan: Ok no more moaning...
Claire: We also went to see the Dead Sea. A very special valley. It’s 400 m below sea level and very dry and hot (37 degrees C). The road runs along the shore of the salty lake and on the other side there are big cliffs and mountains. You can see Israel on the other side. It’s true that the place is so desolate nothing can live there. Except for millions of flies! They were all over us, especially if you stopped. They luckily disappeared after sunset so we could camp and cook but at 5 am in the morning they were back and sitting on our tent waiting for us to come out.
But we had a lovely float in the sea (you can sit upright in the salty water and read a book!) and a beautiful site to camp.
Dan: From the Dead Sea we planned to cycle back up from -400m to 1200m to the King Hussein Highway and a place called Karak. We set off early at 6am to avoid the heat and quickly cycle the 30km before the climb...but the wind had another idea. We had the strongest head wind ever and the short cycle took 3 hours...not fun! We were soon fixed after a falafel sandwich and we were off at midday for our 1600m climb from the valley of the Dead :o)
Claire: After 1 km I was ready to catch a lift. It was just too hot...almost 40 degree C in the sun.
Dan: Ok, not a good start for the heroic Team Richardson. We sat in the shade for an hour or so hoping the day would cool off and then set off. It was still 37 degrees C and the hill was properly steep. Anyway, the hill got even steeper as the kms passed and then the flies attacked!!! More flies than either of us have ever experienced, you could barely breathe. Things got so bad that I fell off my bike while trying to wave the flies off. I broke... and got a lighter and my deodorant out and started blow torching the flies from the air and the bike. ‘Moo Ha Ha...Kill them all!!!!’
Claire: It was such a ridiculous sight (but so hilarious ) that we flagged down the first chicken-truck and asked for a lift. With our bikes in the back we had a lovely drive for 18 km through the suddenly pretty looking gorge. Up in Karak it was nice and cold and we finished our day cycling in a good mood again.
Dan: We cycled on for a couple of days and 2000m of climbing up and down to a really cool nature reserve called Dana. Beautifully peaceful and no tourons! We did a little hike with Fay and Phil from Zermatt and stayed in the great eco-project Dana guesthouse. We met a really nice English couple Joe and George. Joe fixed my gears and broke them :o) All ended well and he gave me his shifter...thanks again Joe!
Claire: So all in all Jordan is a pretty amazing holiday country, just not on a bike...
Off to Egypt tomorrow on the ferry. Our 14th country and 3rd continent on this trip!!! xx
ps: all the photos are on the flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/40131711@N05/