Picture Perfect Jordan

I have what’s known as cover photo choice dilemma. It’s a delightful problem to have and it’s a problem most commonly suffered by lucky people who travel a lot and indulge in a little (too much?) photography. I’m happily overcome with this issue and as mentioned before, happily infected with the travel bug.

One of my recent big trips, also happens to be one of the most photogenic destinations I’ve been to was Jordan. If you’ve been paying attention (and I would never judge you if you confess that you have not), you’ll recall I’ve mentioned this before and moreso I mentioned how excited I was!!

Although I am very often described as an ‘excitable type’, I am always nervous to get too excited about upcoming trips as I think this has the propensity to heighten the expectations and lead to disappointment. With disappointment not being something I am a fan of, I can tell you with absolute certainty that Jordan lived up to and exceeded my expectations – and I suspect that even if I had researched it to death, I’d still be saying that!

This low expectation thing for me (ironically as a Travel Agent) extends to pre-planning and research of a destination in detail, again so I can continually be in awe of what I am doing/seeing and learning about a place. This is one of the reasons I book group tours. Small group adventure tours to be more precise. I’ll confess, I barely even read the itinerary of the tour I booked, I saw that it went to Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea and a few other surprises (Jerash, Amman and Madaba) and said yep that sounds perfect. I picked a tour with ‘On the Go Tours’ as I had been recommended them by a friend who had travelled them and thought that Jordan was a place I might like the 4 star comforts, without having to be on a 40 seat coach with 70 year olds taking photos with their Ipads or hungover 18 year olds. I got all of this as well as a little company for this solo social traveller!

As always, I don’t have the attention span to sit and tell you all about the in-s and out-s of our itinerary and to be fair, no matter how knowledgeable our local guide was, I couldn’t tell you what year Moses was buried at Mount Nebo, but I can give you a few of my highlights and insights and of course a few snaps I took along the way!

  • Stuff in Jordan is really really really old. We were bandy-ing around words like ‘BC’ , ‘old testament’, ‘Stone age’, ‘Iron Age’ ect – you literally cannot comprehend it sometimes and furthermore, that it is so accessible, you can walk right up and touch ancient artefact and mosaics
  • Jordan is really really quiet at the moment. With the current ‘situation’ in the Middle East, tourists are hesitant to visit Jordan. There has been a decrease in visitors (and bear in mind Tourism is the industry they rely most on) of 80%. Although I understand somewhat why people are skipping it for places perceived to be safer, I can promise you I never once felt unsafe. We drove right up to the Syrian border and past some of the refugee camps where some of the 2 million refugees they have taken in live and not once did I feel threatened or uneasy. In light of this, it did mean that for a majority of the time, we had place what felt like to ourselves – there were even times in Petra (granted not directly in front of the infamous treasury building), that there was not a soul around other than us, so if you ask me, now is the BEST time to go!
  • Jordanian people are some of the friendliest, most curious and gentlest people I have ever met. As a people lover with a genuine curiosity for different cultures, I feel like you might suggest I say this every time I visit a new country, but I can vouch for myself (and I often do), that in Jordan, they couldn’t be more deserving of this title. Jordanian culture deems nothing is too private, so be warned, they will ask you just about anything! Unlike in many touristic countries, those working on market stalls, will accept no thank you from and then just have a little chat (or tell you how far you have  left to go up the 500 steps up to the (amazing) monastery in Petra while you are huffing and puffing and considering stopping to buy a scarf just as an excuse for a rest after all). I never once felt harassed at tourist sites to buy – quite unbelievable for a country with one of the ‘Seven New wonders of the World’.
  • As a woman, I never felt uncomfortable at all in Jordan. Both in the smaller towns and the big cities. I always dress conservatively when in a Muslim country, not just because it helps to minimize any unwanted attention as a western woman, but because it is respectful. I do have to say however, that this did not seem to be a major factor on this trip. Women are very liberated in Jordan and can do/wear/go anywhere they wish.
  • It’s not a cheap destination (especially if you like a drink), but it couldn’t be more worth it! My big tip again is to book a tour where there are a few things included and your guide can help with the tipping and buying of entry tickets as it’s hard work and potentially more expensive otherwise. Our guide took us to places where the food was a little cheaper (amazing local food to try as well!) and told us when to stock up a on alcohol before heading to the pricier destinations.
  • The Dead Sea is amazing, weird and something you absolutely have to experience.

You can check out the full itinerary we did here. Its unusual to come back from a trip and feel like I had enough time and saw everything I wanted to see, but I found this to be true when I came back from Jordan. I loved it eleventy billion out of ten and my genuine recommendation is to get yourself to Jordan soon and to run, don’t walk !

 

 

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Not as ‘lucky’ as it looks

So, you know when you are talking about your travels; holidays past or upcoming travel plans, maybe you are sharing a couple of your perfect photos of your latest trip and your well meaning friend offers you the classic and socially polite response of ‘I am sooooo jealous, you are so lucky’! I have blogged before about my dysfunctional relationship with this conversation and attitude but for a quick refresher for those who’ve recently joined see the next paragraph.

I do tend to keep my honest response to myself when this is said to me, but I don’t believe luck has much to do with it. Sure there are a few things that come into play with luck in general life, but the ability to travel has more to do with desire to, sacrifice and planning than luck!

This topic re-occurred to me recently when I was trotting myself through London to work. I do like to do the 45 minute walk from time to time, however I have encouraged myself to do it a few more times over the last couple of months as funds are slightly tighter than usual as I have recently booked my next big trip (get excited now: I’m going to JORDAN! More about that shortly…) now back to what I was saying – that £2.40 each way tube journey sure adds up, so I will happily sacrifice a little extra time, a little bit of sleep and a few millimeters a week off my shoe heel to put that into the travel fund.

This brings me to my case-in-point: what do you sacrifice to live the life that you want and therefore choose to live? For me at the moment (as I have said before), it is physical possessions – not buying that lovely new top or dealing with the fact that those shoes that don’t quite match the outfit because I would rather have an adventure than those new earrings.

Sacrifices go further than just walking to work to reduce the oyster card fund or ‘layering’ your summer gym gear for your winter outdoor boot camp, but also less tangible things. Living 17,000Km away from some of your loved ones and the familiarity of your home town (and it’s heavenly salt water and sunshine) is something that you deal with to experience different experiences and explore more of our beautiful planet and build memories in the other hemisphere.

As you know, I could carry on all day (about most topics), but this quiet Saturday night in and as such the first blog post I have written in some months is partially dedicated to my upcoming trip to Jordan. I’m doing a trip with On The Go Tours and I absolutely cannot wait! You might know already I have a bit of a fascination with the Middle East, (the length of my post about my trip to Morocco is a pretty big clue). The Middle East ignites the curious traveller in me. The lives they live are so rich in a culture not remotely like ours that it makes you naturally compare and appreciate the differences.

I won’t carry on more than that for now, but I just watched this little video about Jordan and it’s increased my excitement ten fold!

Jordan – November 2015