Our last destination in Jordan was Aqaba, the almost-landlocked country’s only seaport. The city sits at the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, which itself is the northeastern extension of the Red Sea. Given Aqaba’s location at the very intersection of Asia and Africa, along with its easy access to Red Sea shipping, it has been an important trading city for millennia.
There was one big event here more recently. In 1917 the Arab Revolt came to a conclusion here in the Battle of Aqaba, ending 500 years of Ottoman rule in what was then called the Province of Syria, or what we might today call Greater Syria. You may have seen the battle on the big screen; one T.E. Lawrence was a senior advisor to the Arabs and the battle was depicted in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.
And that’s about all that was interesting here, which is why there are so few pictures. I wanted to see Aqaba and I was intrigued to find myself in Jordan, where you could go a couple miles east to Israel, maybe another seven or eight miles south along the Gulf to Egypt, and just 16 miles straight south to Saudi Arabia. Ultimately, though, there’s really not much to do here. The Gulf of Aqaba is supposed to be an excellent area for scuba diving, but we haven’t done any of that in eight or 10 years. There’s a beach, and we spent plenty of our time there, but it certainly wasn’t one of the great beaches we’ve ever seen.
For the most part the restaurants were … OK. We continue to find it weird how many restaurants won’t (can’t?) sell wine or liquor and that just makes them kind of boring. There was one great and unexpected find: a Chinese restaurant that made us feel as though we were right back in China. Otherwise? Meh.
And thus, after a four-hour drive back to Amman where we enjoyed one last great lunch and an overnight stop, it was time to leave Jordan. Petra, of course, was the standout star, but I’m also glad I got to bob in the Dead Sea. From here we fly down to Qatar where we’ll spend nearly three weeks on the Arabian Peninsula.