Flying from Dubai to Amman, Lawrence clicked on the ‘flight path’ app on his entertainment screen and, I think, felt a little apprehensive about going to Jordan when he realised what countries we were going to be surrounded by…. “Ahh we’ll be right”, I assured him.
There was nothing to worry about; it was not long until we both fell in love with Jordan – The food, the sites, the culture and most of all the kindest people, who were keen to share their countries beauty & history.
Amman is the capital of Jordan so most likely this is where you’ll first arrive. I suggest giving yourself a full day or two to explore the city. Two places I highly recommend visiting are; The Citadel, perched on top of a hill, this will give you a great views of the city. Hire a local guide to take you around and explain the sites history. Excavation work there has revealed a number of Roman, Byzantine and Islamic remains. Also The Roman Theatre, which dates back to the Roman times and located right in the heart of the city. You’d need about an hour to wander around the whole site. There is the option to hire a guide here as well. You’re able to walk right up to the top and take in the view & plenty of photo opportunities.
If you’re after shops and good restaurants head to Rainbow St! It’s a cool, clean and safe area. All the food we ate in Amman was incredible but the two restaurant’s we loved the most were on Rainbow St, Nabteh o Fatteh and Sufra. The food was to die for and very reasonably priced. There was so much lamb, falafel’s, hummus, salads & Manakish (Arabic pizza). And hot tip – if you go to Sufra, order the Kofta Bi Tahini (a base layer of ground lamb, covered in potato & creamy tahini sauce). Delicious.
Amman isn’t one of the most beautiful cities in the world but it has a charm of its own, we found everyone to be very kind and extremely helpful. I dressed very modestly but everyone seemed to be very much ‘each to their own’, no one seemed too bothered about what others were doing. Some local women were very covered up, some not so much, I personally always felt very comfortable.
You couldn’t possibly come to Jordan and not visit Petra. Whether you want to see a filming location from Indiana Jones or learn about the Nabataeans, it’s easy to see why Petra is listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site’s. The Petra visitors centre is located in the centre of town; this will be your starting point. From there you can walk or take a horseback ride to the beginning of the Siq (if you take a horse ride, the handlers will expect a tip). Definitely get yourself a local guide to show you around, they’ll be there to share with you the incredible history and point out things you may not have noticed otherwise. We had a guide for nearly three hours. The first main site you’ll come across is The Treasury, I was so excited and not in the slightest bit disappointed. Petra, the capital of the Nabataean Empire, has been around since 1st century BC and still to this day the Treasury is mind-blowing. The detail and beauty of it is incredible and possibly one of the best man made things I’ve ever laid my eyes on. The city of Petra is massive and it’s not possible to walk around the whole city in a day. I really recommend making the trek up to The Monastery though. It was a long, hot walk up about 800 steps but well worth it. You can hire a donkey to take you up but I wouldn’t recommend it. Many Bedouin people make a living out of this so I don’t want to be unsupportive but basically I felt sorry for the donkey, the poor animals really seemed to be struggling. Also, at least if you’re walking you can stop in the small shaded areas for some relief. Once you’re up the top and given yourself a little rest (there’s a café and toilet’s if needed) take your time exploring this area and take as many photos of the monastery as you want, because once you’ve gone down you won’t feel like walking up there again. After about 8 hours of exploring the red – rose city we were absolutely exhausted, I could hardly feel my legs. Please make sure you wear comfortable shoes, I promise you’ll regret it if you don’t.
Petra By Night: In the end we decided to get tickets to Petra By Night (this was an additional 17 J.D per person). Although the walk back there wasn’t at all appealing, we couldn’t go past seeing the treasury one more time. Petra By Night runs 3 times a week and goes for approximately 2 hours. Once you’ve walked through the candle lit siq, everyone will take a seat in front of The Treasury for a performance of traditional Jordanian music and a story about Petra and the Nabataeans. Seeing The Treasury lit up by hundreds of candles was gorgeous, I don’t know when I’ll be visiting Jordan again so I was happy taking in every opportunity Petra had to offer. If you choose to go, take a jacket, it got pretty cold at night.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about our time at the Dead Sea, is how fun it was. Lawrence and I spent hours in the water laughing and having the best time. Before we got there I thought – yeah it’ll be cool being able to completely float – but it was the most bazaar feeling. It was deep so we couldn’t touch the bottom and we were bobbing around like a couple of champagne corks. We’d sit as if we were on a bike and see how long we could ride before we’d topple over. Even my butt was floating; I’d have to do a thousand squats a day for it to always sit that nicely.
Whatever you do though, do not let the water touch your lips or your eyes – It really stings and if you happen to have cuts on your body, I wouldn’t even consider going in the water. It’ll literally be like rubbing salt in your wounds. The water is rich in minerals so it’s great for your skin, but I suggest carefully rubbing the water into your face. Don’t even think about just splashing your face with a handful of water. Be sure to get some mud from the shore line too and cover your whole body, bake in the sun until it dries, then get back in the water – your skin will love you for it.
We stayed at the Dead Sea Spa Hotel for one night. It was lovely and very relaxing; there are plenty of pool’s there if you wanted a rest from the saltiness. It was a very much a “family resort”, but there’s an adults only pool.
One night was long enough, apart from the sea and resort there’s really nothing else around.
When we first drove into Wadi Rum it felt like we were on a massive film-set, (in a way we were as heaps of big budget movies have used Wadi Rum as a filming location, a few you may have heard of are Lawrence of Arabia, The Martian & Transformers) you’re in the middle of a golden coloured desert surrounded by giant rock formations. Then pops up an oasis – a fully equipped desert camp. We spent one night at SunCity Camp, our tent was awesome, queen-sized bed, full bathroom, the only thing it didn’t have was air conditioning – and it got very hot during the day. There was no reason to stay in the tent though; the main dining area had plenty of seating, fans and cold drinks.
Once we were checked-in it wasn’t long before we were picked up for our (pre-organised) Jeep tour. This was a lot of fun and the best way to explore Wadi Rum. Our driver was also our guide; he was born and bred in the area so knew the desert like the back of his hand. We were sitting in the tray of the Jeep, it was just us on the tour so whenever we wanted him to stop he told us to give the roof a bang. But he was great at stopping at all the most picturesque places. The tour ended at sunset, we were sitting high up on a rock with the most incredible view, next to a campfire, enjoying a cup of traditional Bedouin tea – one of those moments where you take the time to embrace the wonders of living.
Afterwards it was back to camp for Jordanian entertainment and a buffet dinner.
Now we didn’t stay in Aqaba, this was just a little side trip we did. We went down there purely to snorkel in the Red Sea. When I do get to go back to Jordan I would definitely make more time to spend down here though; from what I saw it was a laid-back, sea side town with plenty of hotels and restaurants. We did grab some lunch while we were there, just at a take-away stand. For around $1.50 we got a falafel sandwich and a drink and it was absolutely delicious.
Red Sea: We booked a boat and a guide to take us out for a 2-hour snorkelling trip. If we had longer I would have been happy to spend all day out there. The water was warm, crystal clean and full of amazing fish and colourful coral. It was just so cool being in the red sea and awesome being able to look over the water at Israel and Egypt.
All of our transfers, tour guides and accommodation were booked through Jordan Direct Tours – highly recommend this company. Ashleigh was always quick to reply to my emails and worked with me to book where we wanted, when we wanted and within our budget.
The day it was time for us to fly out of Jordan I was honestly so sad; I loved every second we spent there. We have nothing to but good things to say about this amazing country, the kindness of your local people, your wondrous sites and your mouth-watering food. Jordan we will be back!
Who else has been to Jordan? I’d love to hear your thoughts, comment below!