We’re sitting at the Amman airport waiting to make the long trek home. And while I’d love to put long trip reports on this site, I spend a ton of time already blogging my trips and I can’t find a way to paste my blog detail into this site in a way that feels readable since my blog has so many pictures and discussions of those pictures.
However, requests for reviews of Gate One come up regularly on this site as do requests for reviews of Israel tours (Jordan comes up less often). So here’s a bit of detail. If you want funny and intensive detail of the trip, check my profile on this site.
Gate One in general - I’ve traveled with them twice now. (Japan and Israel/Jordan) I like them. For the two tours I took, the itineraries were jam-packed and fun. Not liking large groups, I opted for their smaller group tours (max 22-26) and felt it was an okay size for transiting around. I was the youngest person on the Israel tour at 51. The summer Japan tour had 4 teenagers.
Gate One hotels - We booked a Deluxe tour and we got high-end tourist hotels for all stops. In countries like Israel (and especially Jordan) a nicer hotel is a great respite from the chaos of the cities.
Safety - Israel - We arrived in Israel right in the middle of that flare-up of missile fire. It was actually quite intimidating to read about it as we waited for our flight at CDG. But Israel was right on top of things. Even though there had been missile sirens going off in Tel Aviv that day, the airport kept flights right on schedule. We were shown the bomb shelters for each of our hotels and given instructions about how to get there within 90 seconds. Again - a little intimidating but, in the end, despite the news that was showing up on CNN, people were going about their business in Tel Aviv.
Safety - Jordan - I was less worried about Jordan than I was about Israel. The biggest issue I noticed was super scary driving - about like Cairo, if you’ve been there. Two lane highways are used as four and five lane weaving tarmacs. We felt just fine wandering around on our own but, for some reason, when we went way south to the Wadi Rum area, a police officer joined our tour and remained with us all day.
Crossing from Israel to Jordan by land - I promised a couple of people that I would report on this. In the end, I found it confusing and I’m not sure I can accurately describe it. I know we approached the Allenby Crossing on our tour bus. We were stopped by guards who walked around the bus with mirrors, looking underneath. They waived us ahead and then we were stopped by some border guards. The asked our guide some questions and waived us forward. Then our bus parked and we all got off with our luggage. Our luggage was loaded onto a cart and we all went inside to Border Control. We cleared the Israel border here. Then we walked out some doors and we were in Jordan (or maybe a no-man’s land?) A bus awaited us here and we got on it. Some people brought our luggage over. We then drove forward for about 5 minutes and our bus was stopped again for a passport check (surely NOW we were definitely entering Jordan). And then we headed to our hotel. It took about 45 minutes total. I hear it can take MUCH longer.
I planned this trip to see Israel and then added Jordan on at the last minute. But it was Jordan that wowed me. I generally like somewhat chaotic Middle Eastern cities and so I came prepared to be charmed. But what blew me away were the two archaeological sites I saw here: Jerash and Petra. They’re worth the trek over here on their own.