Archive for Jordan

Aug
26

Should We Have Travel Regrets?

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I was sitting on a train the other day and thoughts drifted (as they often do ) to places around the world. Not so much ones that I wanted to visit but I for some reason, I was thinking about the places I didn’t visit when I had the opportunity.

Last year, Jordan seemed to be the destination of choice for the discerning travel blogger and I took a 10 day break there with my family during the summer. I tried to plan an itinerary that suited us all. My aim was to see new places but also leave enough time to visit other spots on the spur of the moment. Jordan has many wonderful places but one place we didn’t go to was Wadi Rum. As we left Jordan, I kept thinking that I’d go there next time but as the months have passed, I’m wondering if I will go back to Jordan. I’ve seen a lot of it including Petra, Madaba, Aqaba and the Dead Sea but I’m not sure I’ll go back any time soon. If I don’t, it does seem such a shame that I didn’t get to Wadi Rum, a place I first heard of in the film “Lawrence of Arabia”.

Seven Pillars of Wisdon, Wadi Rum (Photo: Dale Gillard on Flickr)

As ever, when you have plenty of spare time on your hands, one thought leads to another and I started to think of other travel experiences I missed. Ironically, many of the missed experiences are close to home. This was a subject I wrote about back in February – Travel Adventures On Your Doorstep. The local places are easy enough to visit but its the further afield destinations that I may never get to see again. Five years ago, I spent nearly 3 weeks in Cuba but apart from a couple of days in Havana, I spent the rest of the time in Varadero at a beach resort. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but on the flight home, I felt I should have tried to see other parts of the country too. I think of trips to Australia, South Africa, the United States and a number of cities in Europe where I had the opportunity to see and do more but didn’t.

Why Have I Never Been to Vegas? (Photo: GlacierTim on Flickr)

On reflection, I don’t think you should have any regrets about travelling. There is always something else to see and none of use are going to get to see everything we want to while we are on this earth. For the first time ever, I’ve started compiling  bucket list of places I want to visit. I’m sure I’ll never get to some of them but its always good to aim high. I think we should all be grateful for the numerous travel experiences we’ve have and try to get the most out of all future trips. Top of the list for me at present is to travel Route 66 from Chicago to the Pacific. Its something I’ll only ever do once and when I do, I’ll see and do as much as possible. It won’t be easy as there are endless things to discover as you head West across the USA.
Share your thoughts?  Do you have any regrets about places you didn’t see when travelling?
Dec
31

My 10 Top Travel Photos of 2011

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2011 has again been a good year for me to discover wonderful new places in the world. Rather than bore you with a very brief and inadequate description, I thought I’d rely on the old saying of “a picture paints a thousand words” or rather in this case a photo. Here are my favourite photos I took during the last year.

Kronborg Castle

My first trip of the year was to the Danish capital of Copenhagen. I’ve been there many times and decided to head up the coast to Helsingor and the famous Kronborg Castle. It is said to be the setting for Shakespeare’s famous play “Hamlet”.

Kronborg Castle – One of Northern Europe’s finest Renaissance castles

 

Sveti Stefan

I spent a couple of days on the Montenegro coast at Sveti Stefan overlooking this iconic iselt.

Sveti Stefan – Famous visitors here include Elizabeth Taylor and Sophie Loren.

 

Mandarin Fish

My first diving trip to Manado was extremely rewarding. On a night dive I managed to capture a couple of pictures of the elusive Mandarin Fish on a night dive.

The elusive Mandarin Fish on Bunaken Island, Manado, Indonesia

 

Queens Colours 1/24th Regiment

The Battle of Isandlwana in 1879 was the greatest defeat a British force ever suffered at the hands of a native army. On that fateful January day, the Queens Colours of 1/24th Regiment were lost in the Buffalo River. Two weeks later, against all odds they were recovered. Queen Victoria added a wreath of immortals around the crown as reminder of what happened to those colours at Isandlwana. Today, they are hanging in the Havard side chapel in Brecon Cathedral, Wales.

Queens COlours of 1/24th Regiment that were lost and later found after the Battle of Isandlwana in January 1879.

 

Burning Bush / Fire Extinguisher

High in the Sinai Mountains in St Catherine’s Monastery. It is a hugely significant religious site and  this picture is of the Burning Bush. I found it slightly amusing that there is a fire extinguisher next to it…just in case.

In 2011, the Burning Bush is less of a safety risk that back in the days when it was described in the book of Exodus thanks to a fire extinguisher.

 

Soldier on guard, Hall of Valour

The Battle of Stalingrad was an horrendous fight to the death for hundreds of thousands of Russian and German soldiers. Today at the Hall of Valour at Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, there is a permanent guard.

A soldier stands guard in the Hall of Valour, Mamayev Kurgan, Volgograd

 

Petra through the Siq

The Siq at Petra is a long passage all visitors have to travel through to reach the famous Red City. As you approach the end, you get your first glimpse of the Treasury in Petra.

Nearing the end of the Siq and catching a first sight of the Treasury at Petra.

 

Kotor – cruise ship

The old walled town of Kotor in Montenegro is a popular cruise destination.

A cruise ship docked at Kotor, Montenegro

 

Pufferfish

This photo isn’t so much a favourite, I just want to highlight a problem (excuse the blurriness). When threatened, Pufferfish expand their bodies. Its a rare sight and is incredibly stressful for them. On this night dive in Aqaba, the guide annoyed this Pufferfish enough for it to puff out it’s body. I was really annoyed that someone meant to educate and protect the marine environment could do this. It was at a 5* PADI centre in a marine park.

This poor Pufferfish was annoyed by our dive guide and felt it had to expand it’s body to defend itself.

 

Ma’In Hotsprings

If you want to visit a fantastic spa resort in a stunning setting, the Ma’In Hotsprings 260m below sea level in Jordan will not disappoint.

The main waterfall at the fabulous Ma’In Hotsprings in Jordan.

 

I regularly update my Flickr account with my latest photos which you can find here:

http://www.flickr.com/bbmexplorer

Please feel free to add me as a contact.

Thats all from me for 2011, now I’m looking forward to 2012 which will take me to more new places and the Euro 2012 Championships in Ukraine.

I recently spent 10 days on a fly-drive holiday visiting various parts of Jordan with my family. The idea was to explore some of Jordan’s ancient wonders as well as find a bit of time to relax. Jordan has plenty to offer the visitor but obviously, we didn’t manage to see everything on offer. Our itinerary included visits to Madaba, Karak Castle, Petra, Aqaba, Ma’in Hot Springs and the Dead Sea.

As with any holiday there were both good and bad points. This was our first trip to Jordan so everything was new to us. We flew to Amman on Easyjet from London Gatwick and picked up our hire car at the airport.

The five best things we found in Jordan were in no particular order as follows;

Petra: Undoubtedly Jordan’s most famous attraction is the Lost City of Petra. We were obviously aware of the hype around this UNESCO World Heritage Site and despite the high cost of the entrance ticket, Petra did not disappoint. It is a wonderful place to visit and an absolute must for any trip to Jordan.

Ma’In Hot Springs: The Evason Ma’In Hot Springs resort is a wonderful place to visit. The design of the hotel and it’s rooms is fantastic as is the setting in a gorge some 280m below sea level. Bathing in the warm pools fed by the waterfalls from the hot springs is almost magical. On top of this, there is also a full range of spa treatments available if you really want to spoil yourself. Breakfast on the terrace with the backdrop of the main waterfall is one of the most picturesque settings I have ever had my morning cup of tea.

Dead Sea: This is the lowest point on earth and the waters of the Dead Sea are renowned for their health giving properties. Floating here is an experience to be enjoyed and coating yourself in the black mud is something that simply has to be done.

Close Proximity of Sites: One superb aspect of visiting places in Jordan, especially close to Amman is that so many places are close together. Madaba, Mount Nebo, the Dead Sea, Jerash, Bethany on the Jordan (Baptism Site) and Ma’In Hot Springs are all within an hours drive of the capital. In fact, driving all the way down to Aqaba on the coast from Amman can be done in less than 4 hours at a leisurely pace.

Excellent Value Hotels: In general, the value for money at all our accommodation was excellent. In Madaba, we stayed in a central 3* hotel. We had a 3rd bed in our room, breakfast was included and we had free wifi for just £45.

Few trips go exactly to plan with no problems and there were a couple of things that really didn’t appeal to us in Jordan;

Driving: I have driven in several countries around the world in a variety of cars and Jordan is one of the least enjoyable places. Our hire car was a Hyundai Elantra which is comfortably among the worst 3 cars I have ever driven and I include my old 1983 Austin Maestro in that statement. The standard of driving is appalling, one can only wonder at what is included in the Jordanian driving test and the lack of road signs or useful landmarks on seemly main routes was incredibly frustrating.

Beaches in Aqaba: We stayed in a low cost hotel close to the Marine Park to the south of Aqaba. There are a number of public beaches which were pretty poor. They were generally dirty with cigarette stubs, disgarded food and broken glass. There was little soft sand and prevailing wind sweeping off the desert was too much to put up with. My wife and daughter also suffered far too much unwanted attention from the local men which at times was harassment.

Being Ripped Off: This probably goes with the territory of being a tourist but several times, prices quoted when trying to buy basics like fruit, water and even petrol were quite simply ridiculous. One store owner in Karak wanted 7JD (6.20GBP) for a couple of small bags of fruit. We walked out of shops on more than one occasion as the prices being asked were so outrageous, it wasn’t even worth haggling.

In summary, Jordan is definitely worth visiting although unlike Egypt, I’m not sure it is a place I would return to numerous times. That said, short breaks to the Dead Sea or Ma’In Hot Springs are very much in my thoughts for future trips.

Categories : Big Blue Marble, Jordan
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