Visiting Jordan with Tauck

By: Robert A. Siebert
This item appears on page 23 of the August 2018 issue.

Robert Siebert at the Treasury in Petra, Jordan.
Petra, Jordan, had always been on my bucket list. In September 2017, I spent eight nights in Israel (which I had visited in 1979) followed by five in Jordan on a tour with Tauck (Wilton, CT; 800/788-7885, www.tauck.com). It’s the Jordan portion that I’m writing about here.

For the “Israel & Jordan” tour, I paid $8,365, land only, which included single accommodations throughout (the single supplement was somewhat more than that charged by other companies) and almost all meals as well as all tips to local guides and bus drivers.

It also included the sound-and-light show in Jerusalem, but when that was canceled, each group member was given a cash refund.

All of the hotels were top-notch, and Stephen Fisher was excellent as the tour director. He went out of his way to accommodate my needs as a very slow walker. I had traveled with Tauck previously, and my experience has been that they specialize in a more personal approach.

Another reason Tauck, in my estimation, is heads above some other companies is the option they offer to have some dinners at your leisure with whomever you wish at any restaurant in the hotel or resort. I’ve been on tours where dinners were only on a group basis, which seemed more impersonal.

They also include excursions (such as to Bethlehem and Jerash) that other companies often offer at an additional cost.

On our full day while in the Dead Sea region, we traveled to Jerash, which contains some of the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Rome, some of which have been spectacularly restored.

There were two arches, including the most magnificent Arch of Hadrian at the entrance to the ancient city. There also was a street flanked by a series of columns. However, due to my limited mobility, I was unable to keep up with the group and missed some of the sights.

After departing the Dead Sea region, our first stop was Mount Nebo, the spot from which Moses viewed the Promised Land. I was most impressed by mosaics inside the church there. There was one on the floor, with images of animals from Africa, and a large fragment on the wall.

We also made a visit to the Church of St. George, a Greek Orthodox church in Madaba, to see the mosaic map depicting biblical sites.

The paramount highlight of the trip, for me, though, was the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra.

There were five or six of us who had disabilities. At Petra, in order to save us from walking several miles from the visitors’ center and through the Siq (a narrow gorge) to the plaza in front of the Treasury, we traveled there and back in horse-drawn carriages. The ride was extremely bumpy, but it sure beat walking, which in my case would have required at least a few hours each way.

No one actually goes inside the Treasury, an enormous 2-story structure carved from sandstone that may have been constructed as a tomb, but it seemed large enough to accommodate a Brobdingnagian giant from “Gulliver’s Travels.” In contrast, the people seen congregating outside the structure in a couple of my pictures appear Lilliputian in stature.

Because of my difficulty in walking, I opted not to continue past the Treasury. On my return to the visitors’ center, the group was still walking toward the site.

This tour was one of the best I’ve ever experienced since I began traveling in 1972.

ROBERT A. SIEBERT
Jamaica, NY