As part of our pretty epic honeymoon, we started our trip in Jordan. Visiting Petra had been on both of our bucket lists. July seemed to be a quieter time to visit; it was pretty hot but the heat doesn’t bother us too much (we met in the desert in Morocco in August!) so we were actually able to enjoy the sights of the country fairly peacefully.
Because we had literally just had our wedding, we decided to spend a few days int he country’s capital, Jordan for a few days just to relax and recover from everything. We booked a room at the Marriott Hotel and enjoyed their fine buffet breakfasts, pool and various other hotel amenities and didn’t do too much else!
When we were finally ready to leave, we hired a car easily from the hotel and drove down to Petra. It took about 3 hours and the roads were pretty easy to drive on. They were well sign-posted and we were stopped only by police who wanted to say ‘hi’ and welcome us to the country! The only problem that we encountered were the speed bumps that appeared out of nowhere! I’d be driving along absolutely fine at a reasonable speed and then all of sudden be hit by this ridiculous speed bump that used to be yellow but had now faded so much that it was only visible at the last second!
The drive in to Petra was very impressive. You tend to enter the city from high up and drive down through small winding roads to your accommodation. The views were very cool and it was reminiscent of the market places in Disney’s ‘Aladdin’. We were staying at the Petra Guesthouse, which was right next to the entrance of the Petra’s complex. It also had a bar that was carved in to a cave and had a lovely large outside space and a really cool cave area, which was great for when you wanted to escape the heat.
There weren’t actually too many other tourists around and as such, we were jumped on by every tour guide going. It was quite difficult to know what to do. Eventually, we decided to take up a guy who was offering us horse rides around the complex with a guide. We had always wanted to rock up to the great Treasury site on horse-back, Indiana Jones-esque. Our guide turned out to be incredible. It seemed like he loved his job and where he lived so much and his enthusiasm for the place was infectious. We set off on our relatively well-behaved horses in to the mountains. Bear in mind that both Mike and I are definitely not horse-riders. The first time I went on a horse was at the grand-old age of 25 on a tour of the cigar fields in Cuba. The second time was in Ecuador and my horse was a bit wild, to say the least, and had a tendency to run off. I learnt a lot on that trip! Mike’s history with horses is similar. For some reason, we still like to ride horses whenever the opportunity presents itself, even though we have no idea where the horses are from and I honestly couldn’t even tell you how to make a horse stop.
There weren’t actually too many other tourists around and as such, we were jumped on by every tour guide going. It was quite difficult to know what to do. Eventually, we decided to take up a guy who was offering us horse rides around the complex with a guide. We had always wanted to rock up to the great Treasury on horse-back, Indiana Jones-esque. Our guide turned out to be incredible. It just seemed like he loved his job and where he lived so much and his enthusiasm for the place was infectious. We set off on our relatively well-behaved horses in to the mountains. Bear in mind that both Mike and I are definitely not horse-riders. The first time I went on a horse was at the grand-old age of 25 on a tour of the cigar fields in Cuba. The second time was in Ecuador and my horse was a bit wild, to say the least, and had a tendency to run off. I learnt a lot on that trip! Mike’s history with horses is similar. For some reason, we still like to ride horses whenever the opportunity presents itself, even though we have no idea where the horses are from and I honestly couldn’t even tell you how to make a horse stop.
Our horses climbed right up in the scenic Jordanian mountains and we were soon surrounded by ancient caves and blue sky. It was quite surreal. Our guide took us to his ‘family’ cave. I have no idea how this works- only that it seems like a bit of a holiday home, if you like. It was a fairly spacious cave with not a lot in it- a tatty old rug and a kettle with a couple of mugs. He quickly set up a small fire and made us very sweet tea. After, we took to foot and climbed up over giant boulders, getting higher and higher, until we were on the edge and able to look over and see the Treasury from up above. It was fantastic and one of the most special moments of all my travels. You may notice from the photos that I’m wearing sandals. I definitely would not recommend this. Wear trainers or hiking boots for sure. I would like to say that I was just hard-core and can hike in sandals, but actually, I had broken my little toe just a week before our wedding by stubbing it on our sofa (of course) and it was still quite swollen. Unfortunately, my Birkenstocks were the only footwear that I could wear comfortably!
Once down at the bottom, we rejoined the tourists (which still weren’t masses) and wandered around the large complex. It was quite a walk back- our horses had been left at the top to find their own way back and we had about a kilometre to go when we saw them trotting back happily together. We called them over, jumped on and hitched a ride back with them for the last bit. In the evening, we returned to the treasury but this time in darkness. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the path to the treasury is lit up with candles, which you follow from 8pm. Upon arrival at the treasury, you are greeted with the most unreal experience- the whole of the treasury is lit up with hundreds of candles. Unfortunately you have to share the experience with a load of other people (this is where the tourists really do come out) and we all sat around on carpets drinking sweet tea and listening to traditional music waft out eerily, bouncing off the walls. The whole experience lasted for about an hour and then we all walked back home. That really was incredible and I’m glad that we purposely booked our stay in Petra to land on one of these days.
The next stop in Jordan was Wadi Rum. Due to not having a 4x4, we had to park up at the edge of the desert in a crummy little town that looked like it had been deserted for ten years. We managed to find someone, though, who called our camp site for us and we were soon picked up in a truck and driven off in to the desert. So many films have been set here and you can see why. The landscape looks just like one would imagine Mars to look like. We were staying at Wadi Rum Camp with their Night Full of Stars. We couldn’t believe it when we turned up. There were these white domes spaced out on the sand, each with a little private patio area. During the day, the ball-shaped tents were kept with their white cover on and the aircon working inside. During the night, the cover was removed and we slept in a 4-poster bed with the stars above us. As you can imagine, being in the desert with no one around us for miles, this was a pretty cool experience. We didn’t actually realise anyone else was also staying here, but when the sun went down and the temperatures cooled down, people came out to enjoy the large, delicious buffet that was presented to us. It was a very special place to be for a night and it’s up there with the most crazy places we’ve stayed.
Our final stop was at the Dead Sea, where we had splashed out and decided to stay at the Kempinski Ishtar that was based right on the Dead Sea. We were given an upgrade because we were on our honeymoon, which was a very nice surprise. (I had actually emailed all of our accommodation just to let them know we were on our honeymoon and I would really advise doing this. We had to show our weddings certificate in a couple of places, but we received upgrades, bottles of wine, dinners, etc in most places that we stayed, which was so nice.) The hotel was magnificent. Almost a bit too much. There were 9 swimming pools. NINE!! Who needs 9?!! We didn’t know where to go most of the time! Our arguments would be about which pool side to hang out at! The restaurants were lovely and we were entertained in the evenings by belly-dancers and musicians whilst sipping gin. It was luxurious definitely. The hotel had a private beach down on the Dead Sea- not that you’d want to spend too much time here. It was pretty barren and dry, as one would expect from the shores of an expanse of water that kills everything. We came down here once a day to plaster ourselves in the hot mud that is terrific for the skin and then washed it off in the very slaty water that keeps you afloat no matter how hard you try. Great for Mike, who usually just sinks like a rock. If you get it in your eyes, though, it’s a bit of a bitch! Same applies for if you had a mozzie bite on you- the sting! Don’t even think about going in if you have a shaving cut!
We had the most wonderful time in Jordan. We found the locals to be some of the friendliest we have ever encountered and the landscape was out of this world. We spent twelve days here and there was a lot more to see and do, but we were trying to combine a trip that allowed us to relax after the wedding and also have a bit of adventure. It worked perfectly.
We stayed at:
Wadi Rum Desert Camp, Wadi Rum
*Jordan is a dry country. Whilst you can drink in hotels, the only place that you can find alcohol in shops is in Aqabar, about an hours drive from Wadi Rum. We drove here on the way to Wadi Rum from Petra to pick up some gin. As often is the case with dry countries, alcohol in hotels can be really expensive. However, be aware, the Kempinski hotel did not let any alcohol in to the hotel and had thorough bag checks.
*We had planned to get the bus into Jerusalem for a day. However, there were some issues with Trump at the time and the border was shut due to protests so we couldn't get there. If you do want to do this, be flexible. The border also shuts early at 13:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. Usually, it's 20:00.
*We hired a car directly from Marriott Hotel, Amman.
*We found that, as much as we loved the Kempinski Ishtar, plastic water bottles were given out ALL the time. Whilst it was lovely to be hydrated constantly, we couldn't help but wonder where all the plastic waste was going. If you do stay here, be sure to keep your bottle and just top it up rather than get new bottles all the time. They also provided small jars of Mayonnaise and Ketchup, which we would never finish. I kept them and just brought them to dinner/breakfast with me. I know it might sound a bit fussy, but it really bothered me how much waste this hotel was producing.