1 Jordanian Dinar = $1.85 Canadian = $1.41 US
Let start with the ferry over to Aqaba… we decided to venture out and take the local ferry to cross the boarder. You can cross over land from Egypt through Israel and then onto Jordan but this would require various bus changes and immigration and customs at the boarders. Israel also has a departure tax of 30 some odd dollars US we heard so that really adds up with the girls having their own passports and visas. So the ferry seemed much more straight forward and even cost efficient. This was about a 3 hour boat ride from Nuweiba, Egypt to Aqaba, Jordan. I really had no idea what to expect. We purchased our tickets, $75 US for us each and $15 for each girl, a bit around the corner from the ferry terminal at AB Maritime. We were greeted by a friendly immigration officer at the gates who would unknowingly to us be our escort for the entire duration to Jordan. We had our bags scanned through security and went through the metal detector at the front door before we proceeded into the building. There we saw lots of local men waiting to go through more security. The immigration officer made them all wait and we bypassed the line and put our bags through security again and went through a second metal detector. Once through there, again a huge line up for customs and immigration which we also skipped the line. Right to the front, stamped out of the country and then escorted directly to the ferry. We passed hundreds of local men awaiting to board the ship. We then put our bags on a trolley and entered the ferry, going up the stairs and into the main cabin and then up more stairs to the “tourist lounge”. This lounge held 48 oversized chairs and was pretty much full. We grabbed a seat and got settled. It was supposed to depart at 1 pm but left around 1:30 pm. We chugged along heading north up the gulf of Aqaba with Egypt on our port side and Saudi Arabia on our starboard. The coast line in all directions was dry and rugged with mountains taller than expected. We docked in Jordan at 5 pm. As soon as we arrived us tourists were let off first. We had to walk through the cabins of all the local men staring at us. Once off the ferry we were escorted up to customs and immigration, and after a long wait and a retina scan we were escorted back down to collect our bags. Again we had to walk by all the locals waiting to clear customs and others still trying to collect their luggage in huge open top seacan. It was an unreal scene. There were people hanging over the edge of the bin and I am assuming others inside tossing up the bags. It almost seemed like Black Friday in the US with all the chaos and commotion. Unbelievable to think that this was how the system worked for them. Our bags were on a separate cart, easy to grab and on our way. Backpacks in place we again had to pass through security and the metal detector then open our bags for searching. After all that were free to enter the streets of Aqaba, Jordan.
We needed to grab a taxi to our nearby hotel but they were very expensive. So all us tourists banned together and walked out of the ferry gates to the main road to find other taxis lined up. We shared a cab with a lovely couple and arrived at the Hotel Prestige.
We dropped off our bags and headed out to the streets for a walk, grab some dinner, locate an ATM and explore. The following day we headed down to the beach but I wasn’t feeling too well so we ended up back in the room shortly after. Lidija and I took a nap while Tyson and Bexley drifted back out to explore some more. When I woke up they were back with a mango smoothie in hand to help me feel better. That did the trick and so we tried our luck again and ventured past the doors once more. We got connected with a SIM card for the phone (10 GB for $22 CAD), and check out the local markets. Our plan was to go to Wadi Rum the next day but decided to stay in Aqaba one more night to make sure I was feeling good enough to go into the desert. So we relaxed some more, FaceTimed with our families and took it easy.
We started our own Aqaba city tours on foot with our extra day and this had us down to the beach promenade and south to the Aqaba Fort and Museum. The entry price for both was 1JD but we could not find the ticket booth nor the museum and the Fort was locked up tight. We just casually walked around the perimeter instead and peered over what was left of the remaining walls. The 500 year old structure took a heavy beating from the British in WWI. Heading back north now past the marina and McDonalds we then came across Ayla. This was the original Aqaba port from way back when but now it is reduced to a few stone blocks in a gated area. We slowly proceeded to wind our way back to the hotel twisting back through the markets and stalls where we finished off with another fruit smoothie and take away dinner. Back to the room we let the girls stretch their legs and settle in for the night.
Tomorrow could be a long day for the little ones as we are off early to Wadi Rum on a Jeep tour with camel ride and a nights stay in a Bedouin camp.