Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Last stop on our tourist jaunt down south in Jordan; Petra. I’ve done a photo diary of Petra the last time I went which you can check out here. To be honest the quality of the photos is a hell of a lot better in that one. Probably because I wasn’t slowly melting in the August sunshine that time. I mean, I actually wore jeans back then. So top tip: go in April or at least avoid the summer unless you enjoy finding out the temperature when you start cooking.

If you can only go in the summer then at least go in the morning. We finished about lunchtime and to my horror I saw loads of American tour groups just starting their trek. Good luck guys.

So we arrived at Petra around midday where we took full advantage of the hotel. We stayed at the Petra Marriott and had a swim and a sleep before having a traditional bedouin dinner and watching the sunset.

Petra - dinner

Petra - sunset

So you may be thinking the evening was over but it was then time to head out again. Petra now offers a chance to see The treasury portion of this wonder of the world at night. It’s ticket only and they are limited. You gather at the entry gate and all then follow a guide to get to the treasury.

Petra - lanterns

We were advised to hang back and let the initial crowd go first by someone at the entrance but we disregarded it and stayed very near the front of it. And I’m glad we did because we got a chance to take photos before there were too many people. Plus large groups of tourists have an annoying habit of never turning the flash off on their cameras. So much flash photography!

Anyway, the photo above is before the swarms arrived and the ones below are when they ran out of room and had to seat people between the lanterns in front of us.

Petra - night time

We were waiting for awhile and I’m not sure exactly what we were waiting for – we thought a show? Turned out it wasn’t much of a show. A man played a flute and then told a very short story about the history of Petra. We did get some bedouin tea though. I think the whole thing could have been organised a lot better. And the £17 aprox price tag per person is pretty steep for what you got as it’s not included in your regular Petra ticket price. If you want to see the treasury at night then it’s worth it – just make sure you have a good camera and stay near the front of the crowd!

Petra - purple night

Anyway it was a fun little outing and we had to head to bed so we could wake up refreshed to see all of Petra in the daylight hours.

After a very filling hotel breakfast we checked out of our hotel and set off to the Petra welcome centre. As I said in my previous post about Petra, the main trail is about a 3 mile walk so we came prepared. Comfy shoes, giant obnoxious sunhats for Emma and I, while the others opted for something a little more local. If you buy a headscarf from one of the stalls in the welcome centre, they will help you put it on in the traditional way. It made spotting Topher and my family easy in a crowd.

Petra - headscarves

I didn’t take many photos in the canyon because my camera crapped out despite having charged it the night before. Lesson learned: always bring extra batteries! I just used my phone for the rest of the day.

Petra - almost there

I love getting that first glimpse of the treasury through the gorge walls – makes you feel like you’re on an adventure!

Petra - first sight

Petra - treasury

People tend to think Petra is just the treasury section above but actually it’s massive. All the photos below are everything else you can find.

Petra - big rocks

You tend to also forget about all the Roman influence in the Middle East but here stands living proof that they were here so many years ago.

Petra - ampitheatre

It’s crazy to think that people used to live in these caves below up until the 1980s.

Petra - caves

It was so cool to walk along this Roman road.

Petra - roman road

We actually made it all the way to the end of the main trail this time. If you have more time on your hands (and less sunshine!) there are plenty of hikes you can do on this site.

Petra - temple

Absolutely shattered we made it back to the car and headed back to Amman.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in my Jordan blogs: Back in Amman: Downtown.

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Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Stop two on our tourist adventure of Jordan was Wadi Rum. In arabic, wadi means valley and sand means rum so you may be able to guess the kind of landscape we’re dealing with here. If you happened to see the film, The Martian, this may look a little familiar.

I’ve been to Wadi Rum once before back in 2014 so check out my photo diary of that here. This time we stayed somewhere different and as much as I liked the last place, this was even better.

wadi rum - valley

Memories Aicha Luxury Camp is a new camp that only just opened in April this year. You can either spend a night in the desert in a junior tent that would make Aladdin jealous or a panoramic tent so you can sleep under the stars and watch the sunrise.

wadi rum - camp

We opted for the junior tents; Emma & I, and Topher & my brother in twins and my parents in a double. How pretty is it? Plus the AC was very welcome in the scorching August heat. There’s a hidden red light around the headboard so Emma and I enjoyed singing “Roxanne” when we found it.

wadi rum - tent

So in true Wadi Rum fashion, you can’t see the place without getting either a camel or a pick up truck to take you around so we again opted for the latter. Much quicker and you can pretend you’re in an action movie.

wadi rum - camels

wadi rum - landscape

First stop was a very familiar giant sand dune that I swear got steeper since the last time I visited. Or it might be the extra 4 years and extra couple of stone. Possibly. It’s a hell of a lot higher and steeper then it looks in the photos. I had to make about three stops to catch my breath on the way up.

wadi rum - hill up

This is about the best photo I can get to show how high up it is. See how small that big bedouin tent is?

wadi rum - hill down

Pause for blogger pose.

wadi rum - blogger pose

We then ran down and had some bedouin tea at the bottom. Topher, Emma and I literally ran which you’ll be able to see when I finish my Jordan video.

The next stop was also a spot I’d visited before. Perfect as I’d chickened out and hadn’t gone all the way to the top of this rock formation so this time I was determined to make it.

wadi rum - view

So this bridge you see below is a lot higher up than it looks. I refused to step on this bridge last time so I actually made it. Woop! Screw you fear of heights.

wadi rum - bridge

Once again pausing for a blogger pose. Kinda regretting not putting my arms up a la Leo Di’Caprio. Never fear the cheese.

wadi rum - queen of the world

We only had time to stop and catch our breaths for a minute before we had to hop back onto the truck and head to our final destination for the sunset.

wadi rum - three amigos

Time was definitely against us but our driver put his foot down and got us there just in time!

wadi rum - sunset

After that it was back to the camp to have dinner in this amazing giant panoramic tent before sitting outside and star gazing before bed.

wadi rum - dining hall

I would definitely recommend this camp and making a visit to Wadi Rum if you’re ever in Jordan.

Next stop, Petra!

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The Dead Sea – Jordan

The Dead Sea – Jordan

Regular readers will know that I go to Jordan every year to visit my family. For the last couple of years, Topher has joined me and for the first time this year his sister Emma came too.

Of course this meant we had to live like tourists for our two and a half week stay (especially since Topher had only done Amman and the Dead Sea once) so we began with a nights stay in the Marriott Dead Sea Resort.

dead sea - group shot

If you ever find yourself in Jordan, The Dead Sea is a must visit. It’s the lowest point on the planet and it’s a sea that’s so salty that no living thing can live in it. Plus it makes you float on the surface which is a great opportunity to do the ultimate tourist pose and float reading a book for the camera.

It’s less than an hour’s drive away from Amman so perfect for a day trip but we decided to begin our quest south there and stay overnight. I’ve stayed in the Marriott once about 12 years ago and I still remembered it as the comfiest bed I ever slept on so it’s a must if you’ve got room in your budget for a bit of luxury. Damn I miss travelling with my parents!

dead sea - lobby

The Dead Sea is ridiculously humid which is a stark contrast to Amman which is more of a dry heat. So I think we only lasted about 10 minutes outside fully clothed before I wanted to either fling myself in a pool or rush inside back to that sweet air conditioning. It was nice to take a tour of the pools but I really wanted to get my swimming costume on and get in the sea.

dead sea - room view

There were three pools to choose from surrounded by stunning grounds. How pretty are all the flowers?

dead sea - signs

dead sea - trellis

dead sea - fountain

The sea itself is located down a massive load of steps where the resort had cordoned off their own section for guests to swim in. If you’re not staying in a resort you can either get a day pass or just use one of the public beaches further along.

dead sea - sea view

So the usual routine (at least at the resort) is to have a float around in the sea itself before walking over to one of the barrels of free Dead Sea mud and covering yourself with it before rinsing it off in the showers on the beach.

One piece of advice I have for you, ladies (and gents if you’re so inclined) DO NOT shave your legs before going in the Dead Sea. Definitely don’t do it the same day and I would avoid doing it the day before because that stings like hell – this may be coming from experience. And same if you have any cuts or blisters. It’s good for them yes but man oh man it hurts.

This was actually the first time I had gone in the sea in years because the last couple of times I had both of the above problems. I had a large scratch on my leg which had just healed and I had shaved my legs two days earlier. Both my legs were tingly in the sea but not painful so phew!

dead sea - floating

I actually took my phone in this time and managed to not drop it in so #winning. It’s a weird sensation floating on top of the water but it’s really fun and an experience you should definitely have once in your life.

dead sea - sea selfie

Now you may not have heard of the Dead Sea before but you surely would have seen Dead Sea mud products in stores all over the world. This is the famous mud that is known for being amazing for your skin as it’s rich in salts and minerals, particularly magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium. There’s a long list of benefits to the mud and it’s a fun experience to slather yourself in it for no extra cost. Who needs a spa?

dead sea - mud

Just one more warning; when putting the mud on your face take care that your face isn’t too wet. Emma found out the hard way and some salt water dribbled into her eye. Major stinging. Luckily the lifeguard was on hand with some water in lightning speed. Stay safe kids.

After that we rinsed off and headed up to the pools to cool off some more. It’s so hot here I just recommend being in a body of water at all times!

dead sea - pool

Night time around the resort is just as pretty and after dinner we had another wander round. I definitely recommend staying over one night as it’s nice to just take some time to relax. We needed it as the next day our adventures continued to Wadi Rum.

dead sea - night

Stay tuned for my next Jordan instalment!

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An Anniversary Trip to Anglesey

An Anniversary Trip to Anglesey

If you read my last post then you’ll know that I recently had a weekend away to Anglesey with Topher for our 1 year wedding anniversary. We stayed in an awesome treehouse which you can read all about here and spent Saturday driving around the island. Here’s what we got up to.

Friday

Since Topher finished work at 3 and myself at 5, Topher would meet me at my work and we would drive over. It usually takes about 2 hours from Manchester but with the Friday rush hour traffic, it took us just under three. We arrived at 8pm and were greeted by our Airbnb hosts.

Anglesey - chinese

After getting a tour and dropping off our stuff, we headed to the Tesco Extra we’d seen back on the mainland to get supplies. We had planned to get fish and chips from the local but unfortunately discovered that they close early. No harm done as the local Chinese was still open. Beef chow mein please. We enjoyed our meal in the grounds that surround the treehouse, watching out for the local wildlife.

Saturday

Starting the day with pastries we’d got from Tesco, along with a big mug of coffee we set off to explore Anglesey.

South Stack was our first port of call as it was the furthest away from the treehouse. Only half an hour though! Everything is easily drivable on the island. South Stack is a lighthouse which is the furthest west you can go on Anglesey. If it was a clearer day maybe we could have even seen Ireland.

Anglesey - south stack

You can actually pay to go inside the lighthouse but we had plenty of other places to go. So we took a few selfies before hopping back in the car.

Anglesey - selfie

The next place we tried to visit was Borth Wen beach. Word of warning – not a place to just randomly show up to late in the morning on a sunny Saturday in the summer. It was rammed. There was nowhere to park and the single lane windy road to get to it almost left us trapped in the car park. If you’ve got your heart set on it, definitely get there early!

By this point we were hungry for some lunch. Fancying some afternoon tea, I’d read about Giddy Aunt Tea Room which is south east on the island.

Anglesey - giddy aunt's tearoom

A pretty cottage in the middle of nowhere which had another cat (yay!), Topher and I wandered inside to be greeted by the owners who were lovely. The afternoon tea was delicious but I had my usual problem of being finished off by the scone and unable to eat the cakes. Of course I’m not one to waste cake so the owners were kind enough to box them up for me. Treehouse snack!

Anglesey - afternoon tea

How cute is this tea cozy?

Anglesey - tea cosy

Our next stop was the point that I realised I had in fact been to Anglesey before. Around the time I started this blog actually! It was a flying visit but I remembered it well. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch definitely has the longest name I’ve ever seen. Just typing that was a challenge let alone trying to say it.

Anglesey - train station

We also managed to find a scenic spot to pull the car over and get some photos of the Menai bridge. How lucky were we with this weather?!

Anglesey - Menai Bridge

Finally we arrived at Beaumaris, a pretty village full of pastel houses and cute shops as well as a castle.

Anglesey - beaumaris

Anglesey - colourful houses

Though neither of us are beach people, Topher and I really enjoyed walking along the boardwalk and the pier. The weather definitely helped.

Anglesey - more beach

Anglesey - sea

Anglesey - pier

After our walk, we had a wander around the shops before heading back to the car and setting off to find dinner. We tried a place called Dylan’s but it’s definitely not a just show up kind of place. At least not on a Saturday. We ended up at the Anglesey Arms where Topher had fish and chips and I had a delicious haddock chowder. Nom.

Anglesey - beach

We finished the day playing Scrabble that we’d brought from home in the treehouse. Guess who won?

Anglesey - scrabble

Sunday

As this was our actual anniversary, we exchanged gifts and cards as well as watching our wedding video. After breakfast we packed up our stuff and headed home.

I had a great time in Anglesey and would definitely go again.

Have you ever been to Anglesey?

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Tales of a Treehouse

Tales of a Treehouse

I think sleeping in a treehouse must feature on a lot of people’s bucket lists, mine included. Last month I finally got to tick it off mine. Wanting to do something interesting for Topher and I’s first wedding anniversary, finding a treehouse to stay in popped into my head. I had just found out that I got my office job so thought why not; lets see what I can find.

After a browse on Airbnb, I found the majority of treehouses were in mainland Europe; at least the real ones. I consider a real treehouse to be somewhat off the ground. Luckily there were a handful in the UK and one was only a stones throw from Manchester. And the reviews were good so I booked it.

The main plus for this particular treehouse is that not only was it off the ground but it had indoor plumbing. Perfect for someone like me who prefers to avoid camping. Of course I forgot to get a photo of the bathroom but you can see it in the listing itself.

treehouse - outside

The Treehouse

Described as a children’s treehouse that got out of hand, this structure has three rooms. The kitchen is at the bottom; the bathroom up the second staircase and the bedroom/living room is at the top. You may have a bit of fun getting up the stairs if you’re on the larger side but it’s all part of the experience!

Outside the kitchen is a yard that is perfect for having your breakfast if the weather is on your side, which it was for us!

treehouse - yard

treehouse - kitchen entrance

The kitchen is small but perfectly functional with everything you need to keep yourself fed. We ate out mostly but the small fridge was ideal to keep some tasty treats for later.

treehouse - kitchen

The bathroom has a toilet and shower but no wash basin. Not the end of the world but I’d recommend either bringing some anti bacterial gel or just washing your hands in the kitchen. The shower was surprisingly good considering I’ve lived in apartments that had showers with barely any pressure at all.

treehouse - entrance

 

treehouse - window

The top floor has a balcony and a barn door that leads you into the living quarters of the treehouse. There’s plenty of seating, a dining table, coffee table as well as a pull out sofa bed. The large trunk contains all the bedding you’ll need for your stay. And if you’re staying in winter there’s a wood burning stove to keep you warm.

treehouse - barn doors

treehouse - sofa bed

treehouse - sitting area

treehouse - tree

The grounds

I was pleasantly surprised at how big the grounds were around the treehouse. As well as the treehouse, you can also stay in a static caravan and a small cottage if you have a bigger party with you. The hosts themselves live in a large house next to the treehouse and were very helpful our whole stay.

We were lucky enough to be the only guests on the Friday night and have the whole place to ourselves. And even though there were other guests on the Saturday night, it wasn’t an inconvenience at all. Though Topher may have given the ladies in the cottage celebrating a birthday a bit of a fright when he climbed down to the bathroom late at night. I don’t think they realised anyone was staying in the treehouse! Pretty funny.

treehouse - grounds

treehouse - toadstool garden

The Experience

We stayed in the treehouse two nights and had a great time. When we were alone on the Friday night, we saw the local wildlife; rabbits, the neighbor’s chickens, cows in the next field and the chatty house cat. It was lovely having a takeaway on the vast lawn and watching the world go by.

Coming in July was great as the weather was on our side and it really added to the atmosphere. Plus it really helped that it wasn’t cold when you had to nip out to the bathroom in the middle of the night! The treehouse had motion sensor lights outside so you could find your way, but I still managed to spook myself a little! I had to laugh when Topher asked why I practically ran up the stairs. No reason, just me convincing myself that there could be anything out there in the dark – when there was nothing but the cat.

treehouse - me in toadstool garden

My wimpyness aside, we had a perfect anniversary trip. I would definitely recommend this for someone who likes their basic creature comforts but still wants to have a bit of an adventure. It’s a thumbs up from both Topher and I. Now, how to top this next year?

Have you ever stayed in a treehouse?

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