#BEDN Day 2: Travel

#BEDN Day 2: Travel

Travel is a big part of my life and I consider myself very lucky to have visited over 30 countries in my 30 years on this planet. One of the places I’ve visited the most over the years is Amman, Jordan. I’m half Arab and have a rather large family that resides there so every year I go to visit.

This year was a bit different. Topher was doing all the touristy things for the first time (his third trip to Amman itself) and also his sister Emma was coming for the very first time. We had a blast and I wrote about all our touristy travel adventures here:

The Dead Sea

Wadi Rum

Petra

So this is the final instalment of our general wanderings in the city of Amman itself. Jordan may not be at the top of your travel bucket list but it’s definitely somewhere you should consider visiting once in your life.

The Boulevard

Arabs love their shopping malls. So we tend to go to a lot of the ones Amman has to offer. I remember when the first one was built when I was a teen. My cousin and I loved shopping and used to go all the time when I visited. The Boulevard is an outdoor shopping street which is very pretty and always has something going on. Plus this time I noticed loads of street art has popped up since I was last here.

amman - the boulevard

Taj Mall

This is our local mall and has everything we need including a cinema. How cool is this back to school display?

amman - city mall

Amman Citadel

When you think of the Middle East, you don’t tend to think about the Romans but they were definitely here!

amman - citadel

amman - city view

Somewhere downtown

amman - street art

Definitely downtown

amman - greenery

I’m seeing more and more tourists in the past few years and it’s pretty cool to see. I don’t tend to venture downtown much as I spend a lot of time with my family but it was nice to have a wander this year.

amman - alley

amman - bunting

The instagrammer in me was very excited to see these colourful steps!

amman - steps

On our first night we went to a concert in the Roman amphitheatre which was really awesome. Literally sitting in history.

ampitheatre

concert

Next year will be the first year I won’t be able to go so bring on 2020!

Where’s your favourite place to travel?

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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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Jordan 2017 – Cousin’s Wedding

So without a doubt, this was by far the shortest trip to Jordan I’ve ever taken!

I wasn’t even planning on coming to Jordan this year what with everyone coming over for the wedding but in February my older cousin announced that he was getting married the week before us. So there was no way I was missing this wedding. I have always said I will attend every single one of my cousin’s weddings and I will not stumble at number 2!

So that’s how Topher and I ended up spending 3 full days in Jordan. And that’s pretty much why there’s only a few photos that aren’t the wedding.

Day 1 saw us heading to my auntie’s for a huge family lunch to celebrate both weddings. That cake was good!

Jordan 2017 - cutting the cake

Jordan 2017 - cake

And of course with everyone in attendance we had to get the first family photo in close to a decade.

Jordan 2017 - family

Then day 2 was the wedding. Arab weddings are pretty much evening affairs. Your hands get sore from all the clapping and there’s lots of dancing which I love. The wedding was at Amman Waves which is a water park and it was all very pretty.

Jordan 2017 - pool

I love outdoor night time weddings – sparkly lights!

Jordan 2017 - dance floor

Each table was named after a city and unsurprisingly we were on London.

Jordan 2017 - London table

Had to get a posed shot. I loved my dress. I bought it from ASOS* and it was so comfy. It was pretty long though so we got it shortened at a tailor’s in Amman. I got my hair done at the same salon I usually go to in Amman too.

Jordan 2017 - Diane and Topher

Cheeky selfie! Me, Topher, my cousin and my brother.

Jordan 2017 - selfie

The happy couple. My cousin is the groom.

Jordan 2017 - Kamal & Bhara'ah

These giant sparklers were everywhere!

Jordan 2017 - fire

Day 3 was spent at brunch with everyone and then a trip to the cinema before going to bed and getting up at 4am for the airport.

And breathe! Next year I’m planning a 2 week holiday there to make up some lost time from this year.

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