A childhood friend Mitali recently asked me for suggestions for a foreign destination for her brother’s honeymoon. I got usual suspects when I asked her which destinations have already been zeroed in on. I suggested to her that for the same budget you will get more value and variety in Jordan. She asked me details and here they are, for her and for other discerning honeymooners or any travelers rather:
1 – VIBRANT CITY LIFE
The cities of Jordan are lively. While the ancient ruins of capital Amman co exists with its more modern counterparts, the port city of Aqaba exudes a charm of its own. I enjoyed walking through the streets of city of Amman with my eyes peeled constantly. The streets of Madaba oozes old world, small town charm. The amenities are good, roads clean and people have a great civic sense. A co traveler Kaushal even showed me ash trays attached to street poles.
2 – VARYING LANDSCAPES
Almost every day, I saw a new landscape in Jordan. While Amman was more about buildings, old and new, Petra had other worldly canyons and mountains. Wadi Rum gave me the illusion of being on Mars, Aqaba had crystal clear blue waters. Dead Sea was surrounded with salt deposits and the next stop Madaba and Mount Nebo had dry, arid landscapes. Wait, there is a secluded Hot Spring too! All these destinations are within few hours of driving distance from each other!
3 – BORDER JUNKIE PARADISE
I am a border junkie. I love to be around borders even if I can’t cross it. During a cruise on the very blue ‘red sea’ (in Aqaba), the attendant pointed out Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine to me. This meant I could see 4 countries from my cruise none of which I could cross. Later also I came across many places which gave me a glimpse of other country without entering it. Most memorable moment was seeing the Israel side up, close and personal at the Baptism Site.
4 – MARS ON EARTH, ANYONE?
Wadi Rum was my personal favorite of all the places I visited. I climbed up a high rock only to be rendered speechless. I watched in wonder as the sun cast its orange glow on Mars like landscape dotted with massive rock formations on sand. I am not going to forget what I saw, in a lifetime.
6 – ROAD TRIP FRIENDLY
The roads in Jordan are baby bottom smooth. Most of the important places and cities are within a few hours distance. One can reach the Capital city Amman in 4 hours from anywhere in Jordan. Got the drift, eh?
6 – One of the 7 Modern Wonders Of The World!
You sure want to see all the 7 modern wonders of the world. Jordan houses Petra ruins (which includes The Treasury, Monastery, and Little Petra ). For some extra bucks you can also see Petra by night. On every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, the treasury is lit with hundreds of paper lanterns at its base.
7 – JAW DROPPING HISTORY AND ANCIENT ARCHITECHTURE
Everywhere you go in Petra you will see a mix of architecture styles and history so ancient, it will make your jaws drop. From Nabatean to Roman and Greek, you will see many influences on the architecture of Jordan. It’s an intriguing mix of western and eastern sensibilities. The many historical sites still standing tall after being exposed to the elements for thousands of years. They speak volumes about its culturally rich past.
8 – AMAZING PEOPLE
The people are friendly, cheerful and very welcoming. I have been offered help by random people on the road. The help always came with a smile. Perhaps, what helped further was that most were Bollywood fans and they made out that I was an Indian. Be it sitting with a Bedouin (a nomadic tribe) over a cuppa in his tent or interacting with a random person, each experience was friendly. It is also a very safe country to visit.
9 – MUSIC THAT STAYS WITH YOU
My mind still keeps racing back to the evening spent in the desert of Wadi Rum. It was made memorable with live music by a visually impaired magician, err, musician who played ‘Oud’ with aplomb. Next was belly dancing in the lap of luxury at Jordan Valley, Marriott near dead sea. And then there were Bedouins (Nomadic tribes) who would break in to a song and dance in the ruins of Petra, Little Petra, Jerash. These music experiences were the highlights of my trips.
10 – LUXURIOUS HOTELS, RESORTS AND SPAS
There is no dearth of luxurious stay options in Jordan. My favourite picks are the stay at the simple Evason mai’n Hot Springs done in earthy tones and Movenpick Resort and residences, Aqaba, thanks to its inimitable staff and the sweeping views of Red Sea from here.
11 – ART GALORE
Jordan is full of art. Most noticeable is the ubiquitous bottle filled with colorful sand. It is no ordinary bottle, the artist will write your name in sand through a meticulous process. The background will almost always be a camel against a setting sun. Then there is the centuries old tradition of mosaic paintings and wall hangings. These are the highlights, though the list is longer.
12 – FOLLOW THE BIBLE TRAIL
Did you know Jordan boasts of one of the most important Biblical sites? I didn’t know until I reached here. Al Maghtas, the site where Jesus was baptized is in Jordan, near the border of Israel. People from across the world come here to get baptized even today. Mount Nebo is another important site where Moses had a view of the Promised Land
13 – RED SEA TO DEAD SEA
The seas of Jordan offer variety. While Red Sea had one of the bluest water I have ever seen, Dead Sea not only is visually stunning but also lets you float on water due to its high salt levels. I had a great time cruising over Red Sea and cheering my co travelers as they plunged in water for a snorkeling session or just a swim. Why did I not jump? Simply because the food cooked on board was too delicious!
14 – VEGETARIAN FOOD HEAVEN
I am a vegetarian and sometimes dread going to foreign shores because you know why? It’s very easy in Jordan to remain a vegetarian, even a vegan! The mezzes like baba ganoush, mutable, hummus etc are not only vegetarian but are high on nutrition and low on calories. The breads are delicious, especially those topped with zattar powder. The deserts are sinfully delicious. I even tried to replicate some back home.
15 – SHOP TILL YOU DROP!
The view from my #SoulWIndow exceeded my expectations!
NOTE : I was invited by Jordan Tourism Board to Jordan on a Press Trip
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