Thursday, September 17, 2009

Battling Gladiators in Jerash, Jordan


Destination: Jerash, Jordan

Number of Days Spent: 1 day

Where we stayed: Hadrian's Gate Hotel - 35 JD ($49)

Best restaurant: Lebanese House - excellent hummous (1.60 JD) & grilled chicken (4.50 JD) a bit spendy, but worth it.

Best of: Does seeing Harry Potter count? After picking up our rental car in Amman we headed to the movies for a break of A/C, a fun flick & move theater popcorn (the one thing Jason misses the most)! Seeing the well preserved Roman city of Jerash was also pretty cool too but sometimes you just crave a little taste of home.

Worst of: A few road signs in Jordan would really help tourists navigate the roads.

Most Memorable: We will never forget the Romans fighting the Barbarians (complete with fake blood) in the restored Hippodrome in Jerash all set to "The Gladiator" soundtrack playing on a's one of the cheesiest things we have done yet (definitely overpriced at 12 JD - it might be worth 3-4 JD for a laugh).

Useful Tip: If you plan on renting a car to get around Jordan, renting a car from as opposed to will save you quite a bit. We booked the day before and still got the car for $30 US a day including tax, unlimited mileage & drop-off in Wadi Musa.

We ended up taking a service taxi to Amman instead of the bus since the price was about the same and because it was Friday, the Sabbath, they ran less frequently. After getting our car rental, we headed to our first stop - the cinema?!? While heading to the grocery store was foremost in our mind, we ended up at one of the largest malls in Amman, complete with a movie theater! We couldn't let the opportunity slip by us so we ended up watching Harry Potter (with popcorn!) as well as picking up vital supplies for our road trip. After coming out of the movie after dark, we regretted the decision a bit as it took us a while to actually find the one hotel in Jerash but we eventually made it.

The ruins themselves are rather impressive and rival others we have seen in the area in size and scale. The city never became overly important to the Roman Empire as it was mainly used as an agricultural hub. Despite its lack of importance (or perhaps because of), the ruins are still impressive and largely intact. By this point we were filling a bit of Roman ruin overload (if you are keeping count, we are well into the double digits now), but Jerash did offer one interesting difference.

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This was the first place to offer an actual show. The Hippodrome has been rebuilt and the Jordanian Army puts on a half hour spectacle complete with chariot "racing", marching legionnaires, and of course your gladiators. It was just as kitsch as you might imagine, but still gave us a good laugh...particularly at the peck-flexing barbarian trying to show off for the ladies. There was even fake blood involved...does it get any better? The tape played on a loop with a noticeable break in the music (from the "Gladiator" movie of course) as the chariots "raced" around was quite funny in a sad way as well.

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After getting a good laugh, we loaded up the car and headed for the Desert castles of Jordan!

To see more photos of Jerash click here!

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