| Part 5: Amman, Jerash, Desert castles,
Sea, Petra, Aqaba, Sharm El Sheikh
Darna Village resort, in a pleasant
setting next to a quiet beach about 10km south of Aqaba. 45 JOD for a
rather basic triple room with three beds (hard mattresses), a table
no chair, a cupboard in which you can't hang clothes because there are
no clothes hangers, attached bath+shower. Relatively simple room
for which usually you would pay less than 45 JOD. Breakfast included.
The resort has a small pool and to reach the beach you have to cross a
street. If you stay in this place you will need a car, because it is in
the middle of nowhere. Slow wireless Intenet available in the
restaurant area, but not in the rooms. Restaurant serving expensive
meals (main meals cost around JOD 10, to that add the cost of the
drinks and other stuff you may want to order) - it's cheaper to eat in
Weather: sunny, blue sky the whole
day. Warm enough during daytime to swim in the sea in Aqaba (the
seawater is not cold by the way).
We sleep long and after breakfast pack our stuff and check out. By the
time we leave Wadi Musa it's almost noon. It takes less than two hours
of driving to reach Aqaba. Initially the road is full of curves and
passes through villages every now and then, then it joins the motorway
and from there on it is possible to drive faster (110km/h allowed).
Empty desert landscape all the time.
We arrive at the resort before 2pm and check in, then order some food.
After that I have a look at the beach. Long empty beach with sand and
tourists here and there. Not cold seawater, but strong wind. While I'm
there I see a group of divers (wearing full-body diving suits) walk
into the sea.
Shortly before 4pm we drive into Aqaba where we spend the rest of the
day. Aqaba is a nice city, clean, well kept, with a nice waterfront
area with shops and restaurants. The beach is so-so, but the overall
setting is nice.
We head initially for some drinks and a snack to a McDonald's
restaurant, then walk along the beach to the Chinese restaurant we
spotted earlier today. There we have dinner at 6pm. The Chinese staff
in the restaurant is surprised when they see this European looking girl
(Alissia) speaking Chinese with them.
After dinner around 7pm we walk back to the car. Then we drive to the
Swekh mall. This is actually a big department store, next to the
Marhaba shopping mall. The Swekh mall turns out to be the highlight of
the day, as Shirley and Alissia are thrilled at the huge offering of
inexpensive stuff. All stuff made in China, selling at prices around
1/3 of what they are in Germany. We spend more time there than
originally thought and buy lots of stuff.
Then we drive back to the resort, arriving there at 9:30pm. The kids
will sleep late tonight - after 11pm.
Darna Village resort, 10km south of
Aqaba. Apparently the breakfast is not too great (see below).
By the way, next to the Darna Village two hotels/resorts are being
built. Together with the Darna Village there should be in a short time
four hotels/resorts in this place.
Weather: mostly overcast today, thin
clouds layer blocking the sunlight, only late in the afternoon some
direct sunlight. Colder than yesterday. No rain.
I'm in the bed until almost 10am (also Alissia sleeps that long today).
Shortly after I wake up Shirley comes in with Natasha. She has had
breakfast and is not thrilled. There is no real bread, only the thin
disk bread, the breakfast buffet is limited and full of flies. To make
matters worse, the staff starts spraying insect poison in the air in
the kitchen which is adjacent to the dining hall. All the insecticide
gas comes into the dining hall. Shirley tells me she won't eat anymore
We get ready slowly and at 11:50am we drive into town. The trip takes
only 10 minutes thanks to the fast road. We go to the Formosa Chinese
restaurant behind the McDonald's for some lunch. This place is more
elegant than the restaurant where we ate yesterday evening, but the
food costs 30-50% more. The food quality is exactly the same.
After lunch around 1 something pm we go to the nearby McDonald's for an
icecream, then we get to the car and drive to the Egyptian consulate in
Istiqlal street. The idea is to get a Sinai visa ahead of time and
avoid the immigration hassle when we take the boat to Egypt.
In the consulate after some discussion and filling out of forms the
staff tells us that for the Sinai no visa are needed. I hope the
staff is right because I have read otherwise on the Rough guide.
It's 2pm when we finally drive back to the hotel. At 2:30pm, while
Shirley and Natasha are taking a rest, I go with Alissia to the sea for
some swimming. The air is fresh, but the seawater is not too cold, so
all you have to do is to stay inside the water while swimming and
quickly get dry after you get out.
About an hour later I bring Alissia back to the hotel. While Shirley
and Natasha are sleeping I take care of Alissia and take a shower for
her. After that Alissia and I head to the pool area with the computer
for some email check and computer games.
We are back in the room at 5pm. Shirley is still sleeping but Natasha
wakes up now and with her also Shirley. Later in the evening we head
back into town and have a dinner in the Pizza Hut restaurant. Alissia
refuses to eat all healthy food such as vegetables for instance, but
will gladly fill her stomach with junk food. Natasha stubbornly insists
to have one hot&spicy chicken wing and manages to finish it
completely - tough small girl.
After dinner at 7pm we head to the Marhaba mall. There we spend over
hours shopping and buying "cheap Chinese rubbish" as one of the
Chinese salesmen with whom we talk puts it. The entire Marhaba and
(adjacent) Swekh malls are devoted to the sales of cheap Chinese
things. If you take your time and carefully screen the offering you get
some very good deals on things which otherwise would cost a multiple in
At 9:30pm we are back in the hotel. I check the Internet and find out
that the Aqaba-Sharm ferry only leaves on Thursdays and Sundays. But we
are leaving on Saturday, so we'll have to take the Aqaba-Nuweiba ferry
and find a way to get from Nuweiba to Sharm (170km). A taxi would be
the most logical option, but I read that the taxi drivers in Nuweiba
will happily charge four times or more the standard rate. Otherwise
there is a bus, complicated with a family of four, or I might rent a
car in Nuweiba.
The kids will again sleep after 11pm. For what concerns me I have some
fever (38°C) perhaps caused by the swimming today.
Darna Village resort.
Weather: Mix of overcast and sunny,
Sick the whole day with
fever between 39°C and 40°C. The whole day in bed, temperature
won't sink, even after taking paracetamol.
Darna Village resort.
Weather: Sunny blue sky the whole
day. Strong sun.
Still sick, but in the
morning probably due to this stronger Panadol (2x500 mg Paracetamol +
some coffeine) the temperature drops to 37°C so I'm able to leave
the bed. Around noon we drive into town, check with Arab Bridge
what ferry service they have. Surprise, no noon ferry
tomorrow, only the midnight slow boat (3h, leaving at midnight). No
ferries to Sharm el Sheikh tomorrow. The ferry to Taba can't be taken
one-way. We have lunch in the Chinese restaurant and then head back to
the hotel. Back there I check my emails. In the meantime the fever is
already again above 38°C, so I take a rest in the bed.
At 5 something pm I get up again and drive into town. Over the next two
hours I will purchase the ferry tickets (120 JOD for the four of us,
=60+60+50 USD - Natasha doesn't pay, quite a high price for such short
trip), refuel the car, buy
some food at McDonald's and buy some groceries. All this with 38°C
fever. It's almost 8pm when I'm back in the hotel. There I have some
food, take a shower and pack my stuff.
We leave the hotel at 9:45pm. I drive to the ferry terminal (scary
place to leave a wife with small kids), drop off Shirley + the
kids + all luggage, drive into town to the hotel Alcazar where
Alamo car rental has its office, return the car and get
back to the ferry terminal by 10:30pm.
Here starts the odyssey. Initially we are wondering where to go and
what to do. It takes a lot of asking to figure out that you have to
walk to a certain place. No luggage service whatsoever, so it's quite
complicated to get us with our luggage to the right place where to
queue up to get on the boat. No problem for a single passenger with a
backpack, but quite complicated for a family with three big suitcases,
two small kids (one in a baby stroller), a baby car seat and other
stuff. People telling us to put our luggage on a big truck with all
other luggage, but we get no receipt, so how to retrieve our luggage?
We stubbornly insist that the luggage stays with us and will only drop
it off later in the boat.
Then I'm told to chop out the passports and pay the departure
tax of 5 JOD/person, again lots of queueing up, time lost due to
queueing up to the chopping counter without having first gone to the
departure tax counter. Finally at 11:30pm I'm back with Shirley, they
put us on a bus which brings us to the boat.
I'm glad I did not plan to take a ferry for the return leg to Amman
(we'll fly directly from Sharm El Sheikh to Amman). This boat trip is
quite an ordeal for a family with small kids.
By midnight we are in the cabin (15 JOD for a cabin with attached
bathroom, two berths, one bigger one smaller) and we can start
sleeping. The boat trip should take three hours, in practice the boat
stays until almost 4am in the harbour in Aqaba.
Hotel Ibis, Amman.
Weather: Sunny day, spotless blue sky. Not cold.
Around noon we leave the hotel and take a taxi to the King Abdullah
mosque. This is a modern mosque with a nice blue-green cupola. There is
the Friday noon prayer and we are not allowed to go
in (entrance only possible after the prayer at 1:30pm).
At 12:40pm we get into a taxi for the City Mall, arriving there at 1pm.
Today is Friday afternoon and the mall is full of families with
children, spending the weekend together here. We are in the mall until
almost 4pm, then head back to the hotel.
Home, sweet home.
Weather: Sunny and warm in Amman, freezing cold in Munich.
Early morning wake up at 6am. Shortly after 8am we leave with two taxis
to the airport. Everything proceeds smoothly and the Royal Jordanian
plane leaves on time at 10:15am. After landing in Munich around 2pm we
head back home.