When I first informed family and friends about my intention to spend a month in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan I was met with a variety of reactions, including wonder, bewilderment, and in some cases, vitriol. Among the most popular follow-up questions was simply, “Why?” I hope my experience reveals that Jordan is worth a visit. And a return visit. Here are four of reasons I know I’ll return.
Amman: Jordan’s capital city has long been relegated to a gateway to the rest of the country, fit for a night before heading to the major tourist sites. Oftentimes visitors miss the cafes that become social hotspots in the balmy summers and the fantastic restaurants where I stuffed my face with mansaf and falafel and kanafeh (oh my!) and loved every second of it. While Amman still has a ways to go before it becomes the next Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the locals are making a concerted effort to attract visitors; everyone from cab drivers to hip locals want to make sure that you’re having a great time. In a city like Amman it’s hard not to.
Petra: When one thinks of the ideal time to see Petra, a cold rainy morning in January typically doesn’t spring to mind. For me, that turned out to be the most memorable part of my visit. The rain revealed dramatically colored striations in the rock of the Siq and with the crowds sleeping in at their hotels, the fog eerily rolling in, I half-expected the Nabateans themselves to pop out and go about their daily lives. While the more popular structures, including the Treasury and Monastery, can be seen in a day, Petra is a place that invites and almost requires further exploration. Walking around the expansive valley, I realized what an important place this is—one you need to see to believe.
The Dead Sea: To be perfectly honest, the Dead Sea was something that I had only a minimal interest in. High salinity that makes you float a little bit more? Okay. Cool, restorative mud? Sure, that’s fine. It wasn’t until I ran into the warm water (in wintry January!) that I understood how insanely wonderful this infamous body of water is. Swimming with grace was not in the cards for me, but the feeling of weightlessness and the fun of bobbing in the water made it the highlight of my trip. I will never forget the time I spent watching the sun set over Israel while floating effortlessly in the salty water, an almost poetic end to a great day.
Everything I missed! As Absolute Travel’s geography-nerd in residence, the most fascinating aspect of Jordan is that despite its small size, even after an entire month there, there is still so much I missed! I will be back to roam the ancient Roman cities of Jerash and Umm Qais, unwind at Wadi Dana’s eco-lodges and luxuriate at the resort town of Aqaba at the Red Sea (for a start!). See you soon, Jordan. Insha’Allah!