August found us at Damascus. It was 160km away from the Syrian - Jordan frontiers. We departed following the motorway – in the same condition as the others we had met until then. About 10km before the frontiers, we turned right, following the signs to Bursa (30km).
At Bursa there is a very well reserved Roman theatre (ticket price: 150S£/person). Outside but much more inside, the theatre is impressive! We wandered around for some time at the stage, the backstage, the corridors, the seats… Even in our days is used for events and festivals.
One of the few dissonances that we came across in Syria was at Bursa. More specifically: we had parked our motorcycles beside one of the cafes that were in front of the theatre’s entrance. A barker had proposed it to us, on our arrival, so that the children around wouldn’t harm them. After our visit to the theatre, we sat to drink a juice, as a gesture of gratitude for the "guard"… The result was to overcharge us- straight and without shame. A behaviour that was in no way according to Syrian dignity we had already known.
We departed for the frontiers. We met many vehicles and some traffic. The procedure at the frontier station was:
- We should pay a “departure fee” 500S£/motorcycle and fill the receipt they gave us with our data.
- Using the receipt, our passport and the polyptych we went to the customs’ central building at a special cashier for foreigners. They stamped our passport and the polyptych. The situation was a little “out of control”.
We left behind Syria with mixed emotions! On one hand it felt like I was leaving a very familiar nation, maybe being influenced by the hospitality we had in Aleppo and Al Hamidye.
We were at last on Jordan “ground”! Everything was clearly more organized. You could see it from the customs buildings’ condition, the halls, the existence of computers, explanatory signs in English, the advertising brochures etc. Here as well the photos of the King and its father dominated.
The customs’ procedure was:
- On our arrival in front of the central buildings we took a card from the luggage-checking employee.
- At building 1 our passports were checked for visa (31€/person, as we had arranged in Greece) and stamped.
- At the Exchange Office we changed 62€/person (exchange rate: 1€= 1-1,1Dinars)
- We paid 42 Dinars for temporary insurance of the motorcycle that lasts 1 month. In case you go out and come back again in the country you don’t need to have new insurance (if the existing hasn’t expired).
- At the Custom Office the polyptych was stamped and we paid 20 Dinars for issuing the temporary motorcycle license.
We finished with these procedures quite quickly. We followed the motorway to Amman. It was in better condition than that in Syria. The presence of the police was intense. We went through enough check-points, checking the speed limit of the passing vehicles.
But really impressive was the scenery we met. There were endless areas of steppe with almost no germination. The wind was blowing and created small whirlwinds. The thin sand made them colourful by giving them a faint tone of brown. A spectacular sight! The fact that some whirlwinds were crossing the motorway was more impressive! Indeed, it happened to pass through one of them!!!
40-50km later we entered the Jordan capital precincts. We had a stop at a petrol station (unleaded gas 95 octane’s: 0,80€/litre). We decided to stay there at night. We moved to the commercial centre of the town looking for accommodation. We ended up at Hotel Palace(18 Dinars/double room & breakfast) – well known for its foreigner visitors – a very simple and nice one which provided only the necessary facilities (for example common bathroom, toilets). We parked the motorcycles at the entrance of the hotel.
We arranged our stuff and went for a walk to have something to eat. We chose the Hashem restaurant, famous for its falafel and bean salad. A really tasty and cheap restaurant. The style of the restaurant of course isn’t very impressive, but the food is great. We wandered around the area, the shops, the vegetable market and the crowded alleys.
We returned at the hotel really late. Next day we will visit the Dead Sea, one of the basic sights of Jordan!