Today the Dead Sea was beautifully calm. No wind and no waves . The ground could be seen crystal clear and so we spent the whole morning on and in the sea.
This is the picture perfect photo op that can be seen in many travel catalogs as the Dead Sea typical experience. To complement it, we smeared each other from head to toe again with mineral mud, harvested right behind us from the sea bed.
It takes a surprisingly long time to wash it off again and you always miss bits and pieces, as the towels and bathing suit can tell. It was still fun to just do nothing and enjoy the morning.
By 12 noon, we got picked up by our driver Hamdi again to drive us to Karak Castle. Down the Dead Sea highway we went again and then turned into a windy mountain road.
Nothing but stones, rocks and sand could be seen. Very harsh living conditions and for miles we did not see a living thing. Until passing a mountain ridge, all of a sudden there seemed to be water on the other side and a bit more green could be seen.
Clearly the trees here had been watered and they gave a hint at what this land might have looked like thousands of years ago. It was supposed to be full of trees, but most of them had been cut down as fire wood or for construction purposes. Karak, the biggest of all crusader castles, lies atop a mountain pass and everyone wanting to go from the Dead Sea eastwards towards Amman and Damascus needed to pass it. Its strategic position was still clearly visible, even though the town of Karak has sprung up around it, partly engulfing the lower castle walls.
We meandered through the only partly excavated ruins and marveled at the sheer size of it and then thickness of the walls, built entirely out of stone. Up to 6 feet strong, those walls seemed unbreachable and for many years the crusaders ruled undefeated.
Until the Turks came and set years of siege to the castle until it’s inhabitants gave up and fled to Madaba. Turkish rule took over and so some elements of the castle are Christian, while others are Byzantine.
Only parts of the ruin is excavated but the whole complex and it’s size must have housed hundreds of inhabitants at it’s prime time.
The many sleeping chambers, large kitchens, gathering halls and church all surrounded by thick walls with many arrow slits gave us a glimpse of how strong this castle once was.
We spend a good portion of the afternoon exploring the castle in beautiful sunshine before meeting our driver for a very nice, typical Jordanian lunch at a local restaurant.
As so many times before we were pleasantly surprised by the freshness of the food, the amount of vegetables served and the nice taste of it.
Back in Madaba, we just had a light dinner and a short trip to the local high end shopping mall which made us smile a bit when comparing it with western malls.
Not only was it very small (compared to US malls), it had only one clothing store but many cosmetics shops. Complete with kids amusement section, kids hairdresser and a food court. Different clientele, different shops…