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Embedded Photos: 1.Marriott, Dead Sea 2.Floating in the Dead Sea 3.Marriott Salt Pool
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Jordan Flag JORDAN


March 2. DEAD SEA "Bobbing Like Corks" Rob had called the day before and arranged for the Marriott to pick us up at our hotel at 9:30 and drive us to the Dead Sea.  Public transport was unreliable and the man who took our reservation said that it was no trouble for their "shuttle" to pick us up.  We were the only people going down at that time so the shuttle was just a car and it didn't show at 9:30.  Rob had even called in the morning to re-confirm and at 10:00 when he called again the same woman answered and snapped that the car was confirmed.  When asked why it Marriott, Dead Sea wasn't here at 10:00 when it was confirmed for 9:30 she said "Oh" and got a car to come over.  It was apparently some mix-up in reservation and the car was waiting for us at the Marriott instead.  It was only a 45 minute drive to the Marriott at the Dead Sea and the driver was a nice enough guy.  He was chatty and kept us entertained with bits of information on Jordan and his life. It turned out that his wife was Philippino and that he had met her when he used to sell to a cosmetics shop where she worked.  She had been brought to Jordan under false pretenses, promised a job as an accountant, for which she was trained, but forced to work as a maid.  When she contacted the embassy they set her up with a job at the cosmetics shop while they sorted out her situation.  He started to call on the shop every day after she started started to work there, instead of his normal twice a week schedule.  The other people at the shop started to talk so she asked him not to come so often because everyone knew that it was because of her and it was embarrassing.  He said that he would only stop coming every day if she would agree to have dinner with him.  She finally agreed and they ended up hitting it off.

When we pulled up in front of the eight month old Marriott at the Dead Sea we were immediately glad that we had decided to splash out for a couple nights at a good hotel.  We had agonized about it during our entire stay in Amman and considered just doing a day trip but with unreliable public transport and limited facilities outside of the resorts it wasn't very appealing.  For me it would have meant taking a float in my clothes or becoming a spectacle in my bathing suit and then trying to get cleaned up at the rest house before we tried to make our way back to Amman.  Instead we found a discounted rate at the Marriott ($75/night) and decided that really appreciating the Dead Sea experience meant taking the resort and spa approach.  The medicinal properties of Dead Sea salt and mud were famous and unless I wanted to flop around in the mud with a bunch of Jordanian men watching me a spa was the only way to go.  And, for the quality of the hotel we felt that it was a pretty good deal.

Our room had a great view over the pool area and out towards the Dead Sea.  The sea was really just a hazy horizon in front of the beach but that was the Dead Sea and the quality of the air told you that it was a different place.  The air felt a bit thicker and the salty haze caused by the sea created anDead Sea insulated layer between the sun and the water that actually blocked out much of the UV.  It was nice and warm but not really hot, just slightly humid, making the poolside area feel like a kind of nature made sauna.  The hotel was built in a squared off U-shape that opened up towards the sea with three tiers of pools cascading down towards the beach area.  We didn't waste any time putting on our bathing suits and heading down to stretch out on a couple of lounge chairs.

It was midweek so there were very few people around.  Most of the westerners sounded like Americans but there were probably more Arab people at the hotel.  We couldn't tell if they were Jordanian or not but they didn't have any inhibitions about wearing bikini bathing suits and laying out for a tan.  The staff at the hotel had clearly been trained to be polite and discreet but, unfortunately, that didn't extend to the small population of construction staff that they still had working around the hotel.  When we went down to take a float in the Dead Sea we passed some construction workers on the beach.  They were meant to stay on the north end of the beach, as indicated by a sign, so we headed to the south end and went for a dip.  We could hear the tractors moving around but we had relative peace until their lunch break came and they rolled a tractor right up into the middle of the beach, turned the radio on loudly, and spread themselves out to each lunch and watch us swim.  Seeing us shaking our heads as we left, a hotel attendant at the beach asked them to turn of radio but he wasn't their supervisor.  We were in Jordan so it wasn't a surprise to see people stare at us in our bathing suits but avoiding that is one reason that you pay to stay in a nice resort.   They are meant to be little oasis that separates you from the outside world.  Unfortunately, the Marriott wasn't doing as great of job at managing their construction staff as they did their full time staff.  So, we retreated to the poolside again.

Our first float in the Dead Sea may have been brief but there is really nothing quite like the experience.  The water was on the cold side but once immersed it wasn't bad at all.  Somehow I expected the water to feel thick if it was going to make me float but it was perfectly clear, totally devoid of life.  The water did have a slight slippery feeling though and the 30% salt content created a kind of oil-slick effect on the surface of the water.  There was absolutely no way to sink.  Leaning back with our heads comfortably tilted we didn't even get our hair wet.  We could sit upright with our leg folded underneath us or float around on our backs with little effort.  Any cuts or scrapes gave a little sting but something about the water made you feel like it was good for you.    

We enjoyed the afternoon by the pool, having lunch at the Oasis Cafe.  It was a tough call when we could have eaten in a full-on American sports bar called Champions but the Oasis Cafe had a view so it won out.  After lunch we went to investigate the Mövenpick hotel next door.  It was a veteran resort hotel on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea and, in contrast to the somewhat American Southwest style architecture of the Marriott, it was built out like an old Ottoman village.  This gave the hotel a very cozy feeling with lots of greenery in between the little quadrants of rooms, a fake river running the length of the complex, and a few restaurants tucked here and there.  But, with the Dead Sea loosing about one meter of height a year the beach at the Mövenpick was no longer at sea level and they'd had to build tiers down to the water while the pool area was left up above.  Still there was a nice relaxing feel about the place, more understated than the Marriott. But, their spa staff were too snooty for my taste. The spa staff at the Marriott had been spectacular about explaining their facilities and treatments to Salt Pool me when I went to visit but the Mövenpick staff seemed aloof.  In contrast, however, the staff at the hotel clinic were very helpful.  The clinic used Dead Sea products to treat joint or skin problems over a long term program.  Overall the Mövenpick had done a really good job of creating an atmospheric place that verged on Disneyland-esque without quite going that far.  The traditionally dressed man at the entrance with the fake bullets in his belt almost crossed the line though.   Still, we returned to the Marriott very pleased with our choice of hotel.

We spent the afternoon and into the early evening lounging by the pool and trying out the hamman (Turkish steam room), sauna, hot tub, Dead Sea salt pool and indoor pool that were attached to the hotel spa.  The indoor salt pool was a great way to experience the Dead Sea water - it was filtered and hot showers were nearby.  Only when we were completely shriveled from sitting in so much water did we go back to our room and get cleaned up for dinner.  We ate at a fantastic Italian restaurant that looked out over the water.  If our brief stay in Nuweiba had been an "Ahhhh", the Marriott was an "Ooooo, Ahhhh, Ooooo!"


GREECE Athens Jan 27-Feb 4

EGYPT Cairo Feb 4 Feb 5 Feb 6 Feb 7 Aswan Feb 8 Feb 9 Feb 10 Luxor Feb 11 Feb 12 Feb 13 Feb 14 Feb 15 Nuweiba Feb 16-17

JORDAN Petra Feb 18 Feb 19 Feb 20 Feb 21 Amman Feb 22 Feb 23-24 Feb 25 Feb 26 Feb 27 Feb 28 Feb 29-Mar 1 Dead Sea Mar 2 Mar 3

ISRAEL Eilat Mar 4

EGYPT Cairo Mar 5 Mar 6 Mar 7 Mar 8

GREECE Athens Mar 9 Santorini Mar 10 Mar 11 Mar 12-13 Crete Mar 14 Mar 15-16 Mar 17-21 Athens Mar 22