The hotel we stayed in in Aqaba was pretty central, therefore quite noisy, but I didn’t hear a thing all night. The kids were the same; we were officially shattered.
We woke to a rather cloudy day but a great breakfast including the most luridly coloured, obviously extruded breakfast cereal I have ever seen. I heard one American woman tell her son that he wasn’t allowed any in no uncertain terms, but I let ours have a bowl each. It turned out they didn’t like the taste anyway, but it turned the milk the most amazing shade of blue!
Our first task on the bus was to drop one of our families off at their hotel down the coast a bit. It was a 25 min coach ride away and was right next to the American Naval Base which had the Mum fretting that they were going to be wiped out by a badly aimed missile. I laughed, but only because I would have been thinking exactly the same thing.
It was sad to say goodbye to this family as their children had been good companions to ours but we plan to keep in touch.
Meanwhile, the coach trundled on through the desert as we headed towards the Dead Sea. There was little to see, mainly rocks and sand. and tiny desert settlements. We had some excitement when the bus had to stop because there was a baby camel on the road.
We quite often had to stop, even on quite major roads, so that livestock could cross the road. Normally, this was for goats and sheep but we also saw dogs and donkeys, as well as camels.
The Dead Sea is actually a lake and is almost 9 times saltier than the ocean. It’s the lowest place on earth, over 400m below sea level. No fish or plants can live in it but it does contain some bacteria and fungi, so it’s not entirely ‘dead’. It’s a beautiful colour but when you look at the shore line, all you can see is the salt build up.
We got off the coach to take a closer look and also to see the pillar of rock said to be ‘Lot’s wife’. I was sceptical ( pinch of salt anyone?), but took a photo anyhow.
We stopped off at a lovely resort on the Dead Sea for a few hours and floated and swum to our hearts content. It’s impossible to sink in the Dead Sea; as soon as you get into the water, you can feel it pushing you up. DH and I floated around quite happily, but the girls in our party complained it hurt their bits. My younger two eventually got in and floated around quite happily but DD1 wouldn’t be persuaded.
DS was quite happy to sit on us as we bobbed about and called us the mummy and daddyboat.
We also covered ourselves with ‘free mud’, then went back into the sea afterwards. Once hosed off, our skin felt lovely and soft.
Then we all headed up to the resort’s swimming pools and spent time enjoying the warm water. Most of the hotels we stayed at had pools, but none had been heated, so it was nice to see the kids being able to really enjoy the water as it was a lot warmer at this altitude.
Finally, we had to get out of the water, get changed and continue our journey back to Amman. DS was not happy at having to leave as he was having fun in the kiddies pool, and I managed to drop one of my shoes down the loo in a ‘not enough hands’ moment, but apart from that, it was all good.
Back on the coach we noticed the terrain changing. The colour of the ground was changing from brown to green, and there were signs of horticulture, including frequent road side stalls selling kale, aubergine and strawberries.
Finally we got back to our original hotel in Amman. The coach couldn’t get right up to it as the roads were too small, so we had to walk a little but it was nice to be on familiar ground.
We went out to dinner as a slightly diminished group, then our family had to retire early as we had to get up at 3am to catch our 6:20am plane.
I was anxious about the size of vehicle that would arrive to take all 6 of us, and our luggage to the airport, and my scepticism was rewarded when a 5 seater estate pulled up at 3.30am. DH sat in the front with the driver, and our bags fitted in the back, but the rest of us were expected to cram into the backseat. I didn’t feel up to challenging this arrangement, but it’s something to remember for next time.
We got to the airport and were met by an official who took us to check in, after everything and everyone was scanned and xrayed for the first time. At check in we were told BMI had overbooked the flights and we would not be able to sit together.However, we could agree to be bumped, in which case we would be flown to Beirut with Royal Jordanian in a couple of hours time, where we would have to wait another 2 hours until our new BMI flight would take off. We would arrive back in the UK 3 hours later than originally planned. If we agreed to this, we would received £200 compensation per person.
DH and I looked at each other, not sure if it was worth it. No one had had much sleep; surely it would be best to get home asap? And was a stopover in Lebanon wise?
But on the other hand, £1200 was about the cost of our expenses for the week. In the end we went for it and it was fine.
Beirut Airport was a little boring, and we had no money to buy snacks or anything, but we survived.
And then 5 hours later, finally, we were home to the rainy UK.