Monday, June 18, 2018

2018 - Jordan Summary

Duration: 12 days (May 9, 2018 - May 22, 2018), the duration count is based on the time spent in Jordan, excluding travel time.

Highlights

Petra by Night
Petra from Al-Khubtha Trail
Petra from Wadi al-Farasah Trail
Petra, I think this would be expected. Petra is as nice and stunning as expected from the pictures. As usual, seeing it in person is so much better than seeing it in photos. There are a lot of people that appear there in the morning, but go back in the afternoon/evening for a relatively quiet viewing. Make sure to check out Petra By Night first if you are able to do so. It is expensive, but I feel that it is worth it.

Aqaba
Aqaba
Aqaba
Aqaba, I didn't actually expect to enjoy snorkeling. It was my first time, I am not a great swimming, I ended up drinking quite a bit of water, but overall, great experience. You can rent you equipment on site if you drive, or just take a tour and the driving part is included. Outside of snorkeling, I'm not really sure what else is there (because it was 43 degrees when we went, we stayed inside during the day for the most part).

Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum, I didn't know what to expect here. Honestly, I thought it would be a bit boring of an experience since I would just be looking at sand all day long. But, it ended up being quite interesting. You won't like all the sites, and it is a bit slow and relaxing, but it was a good experience. I think 1 day is more than enough, I'm not sure what you see if you go longer/further, but 1 full day had enough highlights for me.

Dead Sea
Dead Sea
Dead Sea, a great place to just relax and enjoy the day. Make sure to just spend the extra on a resort so that you can do this at your leisure.


Jerash, if you are interested in Roman ruins, this is a must if you have only one to visit while you are at/near Amman.

Royal Automobile Museum
Royal Automobile Museum
Royal Automobile Museum, even if you aren't into cars/bikes, this is a place to visit!

Lowlights

Nothing was really disappointing on this trip. The only suggestion that I would make based on my personal experience and our itinerary, is that I would remove Amman completely. The only thing that I thought was interesting during our time there was Jeresh. I can see why people would like some of the other spots, but I would've been fine without seeing them.

Food Suggestions

Beit Albarakah
Only restaurant that we really liked was in Petra which was the Beit Albarakah. Make sure to give it a try when you go to Petra.

Tips

Driving, if you are driving here, there are some oddities that I didn't expect while driving here and it might be a bit daunting for some.

While driving, the main rule to obey is the speed limit. Make sure you pay attention to this, because it seemed to be the only issue that the police act on. We saw people standing out of their window/sunroof and this wasn't a problem!

There are speed bumps where you least expect it. I believe that there are signs for where these speed bumps exist, however, they are random, and everywhere. This includes them appearing even on highways where you are going at 100-110 km/h!

As well, the lanes on the roads don't have meaning here. What I mean by this is that they are just guides, but nobody seems to obey them when rush hours occurs. So in a 3 lane road, you may end up having 5 cars lined up side by side!

Final Thoughts

Great country to visit. No issues and no need to worry about the issues in neighbouring countries (at least when we went in 2018).

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

2018 - Jordan Day 13 (Aqaba/Madaba)

Monday, May 21, 2018. Today is the last day of our trip where we travel up from Aqaba to eventually get to Amman airport.

DoubleTree Aqaba breakfast
Breakfast at DoubleTree was the same as the previous day. Still good!

Museum at the lowest place on earth

Museum at the lowest place on earth
Lowest Point on Earth Museum was the first stop which we got to by 12:30pm. There isn't much to see here, just thought it would be worth a stop since we were heading north anyways. It was included with the Jordan Pass. Spent maybe 30 minutes here.

Mujib Nature Reserve

Mujib Nature Reserve
Stopped by the Mujib Nature Reserve (or Mujib Biosphere Reserve) for a quick picture. We didn't have time to go inside, but from the pictures that you see on the TV there, you will wade through a river and it will reach your head! There is a rope that you need to use to guide yourself along. It looks like it is self-guided, however, you get instructions at the beginning.

Ended up booking a hotel in Madaba to rest and shower before our red-eye flight today (3:00am flight to Frankfurt! And then off to Toronto).

Haret Jdoudna - Fatoush Salad

Haret Jdoudna - Shawarma plate on the left, lamb fillet on top, shish tawook on right
Dinner was at Haret Jdoudna where we ordered the shish tawook, lamb fillet, and the jodudna plate which came out to 38 JD. The food was good, but might be a bit expensive for what it was.

We left for the airport around 11:00pm so that we could drop off the car and finalize our flight. The flight was scheduled for 3:00am, but you could check in at 12:00am, so that was good. There is nothing to do here until you go through security, so it was good that it was a 3 hour window.

Flight and food was uneventful, so I will skip talking about those items.

Next, I will talk about my trip summary!

Monday, June 11, 2018

2018 - Jordan Day 12 (Aqaba)

Sunday, May 20, 2018. Today, we go snorkeling in Aqaba near the Japanese Garden.


The breakfast at DoubleTree had a pretty good selection of things. I liked that it is back to what we had originally. Darna Hotel and Dive Centre is the location that we ended up using but there are a bunch of locations here that you can use to rent your equipment. With this, it cost us 5 JD to rent the mask and fins and an additional 5 JD to rent either a wet suit or a life jacket. Parking is free, and the rentals are good for the entire day. We did question where we would keep our important things, and the rental shop actually was willing to keep our car keys.

DoubleTree Aqaba breakfast
When we got to the beach, we realized that we need shoes or flip flops. Walking across the road is difficult on bare feet. Note, the beach does have a lot of free beach umbrellas and sunbathing beds around that seem to be free to use.

Fishes!
We spent about 2.5 hours here. It was my first time snorkeling and it was great. You actually just swim out maybe 20 meters and you are swimming in the coral reef and there are fishes everywhere. The further out you go, the more coral you see and apparently you scuba dive in the area, you will see even more.

Coral
Lunch was at Gelato Uno which is part of Pizza Corso. Ordered the Hawaiian, Quattro Station, and Alla Romano which came out to 19.50 JD. The food was okay, I guess it is well reviewed due to the lack of other pizza shops in the area. 3 pizzas was too much for us, 2 would have been enough, ended up taking almost 1 whole pizza away.

Pizza Corso - Quattro Station on the left, Alla Romano on top, Hawaiian on the right
Rested at the hotel for the afternoon due to us not wanting to be out in 43 degree weather and since it was Ramadan, nothing was really open.

Bien El
Bien El (we ate some of the left one before the pic)
Dinner was at Bien El where we ordered two beef shawarma which was toasted. Pretty good and really cheap at 2.10 JD each which includes fries and pickled items. That was it for the day due to us being tired from the snorkeling.

Tomorrow, we head up back towards the Dead Sea to see the Lowest Museum in the World and had back to the airport where we fly back to Toronto.

Friday, June 8, 2018

2018 - Jordan Day 11 (Aqaba)

Saturday, May 19, 2018. Today, we head to Aqaba which is our last stop for the trip.

Look who I found!
Beyond Wadi Rum breakfast
We all woke up early due to us not sleeping well. It was actually fairly hot overnight (in the 20s compared to what we expected to be the 10s).

Beyond Wadi Rum food tent
Breakfast included some potatoes with eggs, hard boiled eggs, the tomato sauce but with beans, hummus, and baba ganoush. The food was actually good.

Ended up leaving at around 8:30am due to us having to wait for the driver. The driver actual left last night and didn't stay in the camp like we did. Got back to the village at 8:45am where we spoke with the owner briefly about our experience.

It seems like there is a lot of hustling going on and everyone is asking us to give them 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Even offered us access to their WiFi in order to go it in person. I have no issues with rating places, but I don't like how I get bullied into doing so.

DoubleTree cookies (OMG they are so good)
Got back to our car (which was safe with our luggage in the trunk) and made it to Aqaba by 10:00am. It was too early to check into our rooms, but we got checked in and lounged around for a bit. It was too hot to do anything outside since today's high is 43 degrees! And it was Ramadan, so nothing was open. The weather is supposed to be the same tomorrow which is disappointing to hear.

McDonald's
Lunch was at the local McDonald's, which is the first McDonald's we have been to on this trip. Food was actually fairly reasonably priced here. Ordered the duo spicy wrap with large fries and medium drink, and another combo with two burgers, large fries, and another drink. It came out to 6.53 JD which is about $12 CAD!

After lunch, we wandered the area to find out what we could about snorkeling in the area and we visited a few shops. It cost roughly 17 JD per person and this would include transportation and rentals. On the way back to the hotel, we visited the Visitor Center where we were told that we could just drive to where we want to go snorkeling and just rent the equipment there which sounded like a better deal and made our decision easy for tomorrow.

Ended up at the hotel and watched the Royal Wedding! Perfect timing, since it was too hot to stay outside. When it was done (or we got bored), we went to the pool at the hotel. There were a lot of people there, but most were oddly just sunbathing and not in the pool. The pool was okay. There is a hot tub there as well. Towels were included, so we didn't need to bring our own.

Went to the local Carrefour to look for things to buy. Ended up getting souvenirs and some water there.

Rakwet Kanaan - dinner
# <3 AQABA
For dinner, we ended up at Rakwet Kanaan where it was a buffet. It was only 8.50 JD per person.

Tomorrow, we head to go snorkeling as our last day in Jordan.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

2018 - Jordan Day 10 (Wadi Rum)

Friday May 18, 2018. Today we say good bye to Petra and head to Wadi Rum where we will spend the day and evening there.

Wadi Rum!
Breakfast was the same as usual here, I'm glad this will be the last breakfast here. We left the hotel at 7:30 and made it to the Wadi Rum Visitor Centre at 9:00am. Ahead of our originally scheduled 9:30am arrival time.

La Maison Petra breakfast - pancake maker wasn't there today!
When we got there, we had to register with the tourism police which only asked for the tour company, # of people and where we are from. I was a bit confused by this, I wonder if it is to see how many travel here and from where? They didn't ask for names. While here, I did notice that Arabic is written from right to left, top to bottom, how interesting!

We met our guide at Wadi Rum village which is a short drive from the Visitor Centre. After moving our luggage (we only brought overnight bags) to the truck, we had a short drive in and we met with who I believe was the owner, who provided us with tea and gave us an introduction of the program, what we would see, and the overall schedule for the day. During the introductions, we learned that we were the only people here for the day tour, private tour! Woo hoo!

Lawrence Spring - where the trees are
Lawrence Spring from below
Lawrence Spring was the first stop, where you can climb up a hill for some great views of the surrounding area.

Sand Dune - view from above
Sand Dune - Hello!
Sand Dune was next, you had the option to sandboard and it is free, however, the sand was so coarse that you would have difficulty actually going down the dune at a decent speed. We saw someone try this, but they moved slower than if you were to just walk down. We stayed here for lunch (it was 12:30pm by the time we finished).
Our packed lunch that was included.
Khaz'ali Canyon was next, cool place for inscriptions, and there are actual trees out here! I wonder how they survive?

Khaz'ali Canyon
Khaz'ali Canyon - inscriptions
Khaz'ali Canyon - trees!
Little Arch was next. It was actually next to our camp that we would spend the evening at.

Little Arch
Our chariot
Lawrence House was next. We stayed here for awhile, ended up leaving here at 4:00pm. I think they try to have us in the shade when the sun is high. It is a bit annoying as tourists who want to explore as much as possible, but I can see why it is done this way. Note, lunch was pre-packed and we had the option to decide when to eat. Each site actually has a little hut that is shaded where you can sit and relax.

Lawrence House
Lawrence House
Lawrence House
Mushroom Rock was next.

Mushroom Rock
Burrah Rock Bridge was next. You can see the bridge way off in the distance. Not really sure why this was a stop to be honest.

Burrah Rock Bridge - Do you see the rock bridge?
Burrah Canyon was next. It is a one-way hike where the driver dropped us off at one point, and he would meet us at the other end. It was a nice hike, especially since it was in the afternoon.

Burrah Canyon
Burrah Canyon
One final bridge arch (I believe it is the Um Frouth Rock Bridge) and this was the best way to end the night if you are not afraid of heights (or can conquer this for the picture).

Um Frouth Rock Bridge? - Climbing up (notice how there is nothing preventing you from falling)
Um Frouth Rock Bridge?
Camp was next, where we got to pick our own tents, since there was nobody else here. Dinner was included, where they actually cook the food in the sand which was pretty cool to see. It included rice, tomato sauce, veggies, and chicken.

Our tent at Beyond Wadi Rum
Wild Camels! How do we know? There are no ropes around their legs/neck
The evening ended with music and fire in the night. Since it was cloudy, there weren't as many stars as expected, but it was still nice.

Sunset from Beyond Wadi Rum
Sand cooked? dinner
Late night stars (3:00am)
Tomorrow, we head to our last destination, Aqaba.