Day 17: Trip to Umm Qais, Ajlun and Jerash (4)
Jerash Travel Blog› entry 30 of 54 › view all entries
Time to go. By now we had gotten a bit hungry, so we asked the driver to stop at a little falafel place of something.
“In Jerash” he replied. OK, sure, we'll eat in Jerash. An hour later we arrived in the city of Jerash and the driver drove straight to the parking lot of the archaeological site.
“No,” we said, “we want to have lunch first”
“yes, yes, inside, inside is restaurant!”
OK, whatever you say. We go inside, turns out the only restaurant is a tourist restaurant where all they serve is a buffet lunch for 7 euros! (and in this region 7 euros is a lot of money)
Sure, an all you can eat buffet can be fun, but as we only had a couple of hours left before the site closes, all we wanted was a quick bite to eat.
But the biggest blow was not the restaurant, no, it was the time we arrived in Jerash. Jerash is another old Roman province capital, and one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world. Where in Palmyra it is mainly the Cardo Maximus and a couple of temples that are still left standing, here in Jerash you can find a hippodrome, two theatres, several temples and an almost intact oval market square.
Because this city is has remained so well intact there are daily re-enactments taking place in the hippodrome. With four orginal chariots (from the movie Ben Hur) they do races, followed by a gladiator show. Kitsch? Possibly so, but also a good way to imagine what this place would have looked like 2000 years ago.
However, the last show started at 2 o'clock. We arrived in Jerash at.... 2:30!!
And this really pissed me off! We had just spent an hour and a half at some stupid castle, only to arrive at Jerash late for the show. The guide, or whatever passes as guide in this country, should know such things!?! Or the people selling these 'excursions' in the hotel, they would have to know such things, or not? This is the most touristic country in the Middle East. More people visit this country in a week than Syria sees in a year!
Jerash is the biggest tourist trap imaginable, with fences around the site, so that you cannot see any of the old relics without paying the entrance fee (unlike what we experienced in Palmyra and Apamea), but worse, after the entrance you are led past a series of souvenir shops and an expensive restaurant (your only food option in this place).
When we got back at the hotel we complained about our driver, but their reply was very simple: “you never asked him to be on time for the show” Yeah duh, because we didn't know there would be one! In our guide (from 2006) it is stated that there are plans for such a re-enactment, someone calling himself tourist office should know such things and advice their customers about such a thing? Or not?
Arggh, things like these can really piss me off. If this would be a country where no tourist ever sets food, I can understand. Sure. But these guys do this tour every single day of the year!
Anyway, Jerash itself was fantastisch.
One very cool thing in Jerash was a couple of musicians that were playing in one of the theatres. Completely dressed in army uniform, they walked up on the stage of the ancient Roman theatre and started playing on drums and... bagpipes!
That was a really weird experience, hearing two Arabs play tunes like "Flower Of Scotland" or "Loch Lomond".
Back in the hotel we got one final blow: The hotel also offers the possibility to do a trip from Amman to Damascus, stopping in Jerash and Bosra! So that is basically doing in one day what had cost us three days to do! (and none of the three days had been particularly memorable)
We'd decided we'd seen enough of Amman. Not much happening in this city. 30 kilometres south is a city called Madaba, which is supposed to be much nicer, and just as good a base to explore Jordan from. In fact, more and more people stay in Madaba instead ofAmman, because Amman is such a dull city.
Unfortunately that was easier said than done.
As our hotel was not really prepared to make any form of gesture as compensation for the poor excursion we had today, and they refused to admit that as a travel agent they should know about these type of shows in Jerash. So we decided to book our next trip at a different hotel....