In late April, the schools in Egypt had a five day holiday weekend and Hans and I decided (very much at the last minute) to travel to Jordan during the vacation.  A 7 hour bus ride (ugh) got us to Taba, where we walked across the Israeli border to Eilat.  Two taxi rides later, we arrived at the Jordanian border and crossed into Aqaba, where we found a bus to Amman.  Tired yet?
Amman is a city that has an interesting mix of modern city (similar to Cairo) and Roman ruins.  I found substantially less staring and harassment in Amman than I have come to expect in Cairo, which was a welcome change.
The souk we found in Amman is much like the ones in Cairo, except that it is possible to buy shoes and clothes in addition to fruit and vegetables.
Jerash is a Roman city that is now in ruins, but is huge and remarkably well preserved.  If you look closely, you can see grooves in the rock from chariot tires (left).
The Church of Saint Theodore was built in 496 AD.
The North Theater was built in 165 AD and is able to hold 1,600 people.
The Oval Plaza (far left) is very large, measuring 90 x 80 m and is surrounded by columns.  The Nymphaeum was an ornamental fountain constructed in 191 AD that looks like it must have been quite impressive in its day.
Ajlun is a small town, not far from Jerash that is home to the Ajlun Castle (on top of the distant hill in the picture to the left).  The views of the surrounding country (right) were most impressive.
Our primary means of transportation in Jordan was the minibus, which is cheap, but not typically used by foreigners and there is no schedule.  Minibuses show up irregularly and leave when they are full.
After Amman, Jerash, and Ajlun, our next stop was Madaba, home to the mosaic churches and the center of Jordanian Christianity.  The floor of St. Georges Church is an elaborate tile mosaic map of the holy land, which is amazingly accurate and was used as a reference for the excavation of some parts of the old city in Jerusalem.  Many other churches in the area were built with similar mosaics floors.
 At 5:00 the next morning, we got up and hiked 9 km through the Jordanian countryside to the top of Mt. Nebo.  The scenery along our walk was beautiful and well worth the effort to get up so early!
The view from the top was no less spectacular.  Tradition holds this is where the Israelites got their first glimpse of the holy land and where Moses died and was buried.  It was possible to see the Dead Sea through the haze, but we're told on the clearest days it is possible to see the spires of Jerusalem 50 km away.
While we were enjoying the view, a photographer asked us to pose for some sort of tourist police publication (left).  We probably won't get famous, but it was fun nonetheless. 
Atop Mt. Nebo stands a church built in memory of Moses.  It was a beautiful stone church with a mosaic tile floor similar to those in the churches of Madaba.
After a couple more hours of traveling, we made it to the Dead Sea in time for an afternoon swim (or float) and a Dead Sea mud bath.  With a salinity 11 times greater than that of the ocean, floating in the Dead Sea is like being weightless - you can't NOT float!  As for the mud, it was a little disgusting and I can't imagine it had any positive effects on the condition of my skin, but that's what you're supposed to do at the Dead Sea, so we did it. 
A visit to Petra begins with a walk (or carriage ride) past the first set of carvings and into a very deep and narrow canyon.
Just as I was feeling impressed by the sheer size of the canyon through which we were walking, we emerged to find the huge treasury carved into a rock face.  You might recognize this as the set of the last scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  We actually watched the movie at the hotel the night before our visit to Petra and I wanted to go inside and search for the grail, but of course the entrance is blocked to tourists.
Early in our Petra visit we climbed up many, many steps to the high place of sacrifice, where our hard work was rewarded by magnificent views of the surrounding mountains, rock formations, and carvings.
I am not a geologist, but Petra is an amazing place from a geological standpoint.  Some of the rock formations, and particularly the color and texture variations of the carved areas and natural surfaces are really fascinating. 
 Some of our hikes were more difficult than others, but they all led to amazing sights!
One of our most strenuous hikes, to the monastery, took a long time and a lot of energy, but led us to a lot of interesting carvings and great views.
The dedicated photographer stands a little closer to the edge than I would (left).  Everything is commercialized, even the hiking trails (right).
The hotel where we stayed in Petra (left) and the view from our hotel of the sun setting over Petra (right).
On the way home, Hans makes up with the light post that stepped in front of him and hit him in the head the last time we were here (left) and the bus before it broke down (right).