In second place, and ultimately quite far behind our first choice, was the Western coast of the United States, and more specifically San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge, the world’s last manually operated cable car system and Alcatraz would have been great highlights and well worth a week-long trip. The worries we had would be either A) we would try to fit in trips to LA, Vegas and the Grand Canyon or B) we wouldn’t do any of A!
Often added bonuses to our holidays are trips and tours within our stay. We didn’t consider visiting Washington DC and Philadelphia until we arrived at our hotel in New York and by the end of the short trip we visited 10% of the American states. Free high-five if you can name them.
Wherever we go, but especially true of somewhere very close to the other side of the world (an 11-hour flight) we think it would be a missed opportunity to just visit San Fran. Go for longer? We enjoy Christmas Day with family and Kay has to be in school the weekend after we return. It’s on our radar if we ever save up enough to go for at least a fortnight in the summer… although that time-frame brings other brilliant alternatives in the southern hemisphere.
My number one place to visit (which recently has Machu Picchu as very strong competition) has been the Grand Canyon. San Francisco will be the closest that I’d be to it, but the 12 hour each-way drive would be a ridiculous inclusion. Six hours to LA and eight to Vegas, or cheap flights that would include a similar number of hours at airports. We will be prepared when the time comes, but at the moment we’ll continue singing along to the Arctic Monkeys and their Fake Tales of San Francisco. And two fingers up to Trump.
Therefore, in first place we have decided to go to Jordan.
Jordan is a country in the Middle East. With a two hour layover in Istanbul, Heathrow to the capital city Amman will take ten hours with Turkish Airlines. So here are five reasons why we can’t wait until Christmas (or two days after!)…
1 – The desert, and the cave-like stone building from Indiana Jones
I wonder where I first found out about this. It hasn’t been that long ago – maybe 18 months – and I have shown an interest in visiting ever since. This area is known as Petra, an historical and archaeological city in the south. The centre piece being Al-Khazneh, a carved sandstone rock face hosting one of the most elaborate temples in the ancient Arab Nabatean Kingdom city of Petra. Made sadly-but-probably more famous being in a major scene in Indiana Jones 3: The Last Crusade.
The most popular desert location in Jordan is called Wadi Rum, towards the south about three hours away from Amman. At this point we’re hoping to spend a night in the desert and visit Petra on the way back the next day. Whilst the desert offers some historical importance around Lawrence of Arabia and some appealing rock formations, a night at the desert is top of the list from hearing how amazing the night sky is without light pollution, and is likely to be the first time we’ll see the universe so clearly.
2 – The Dead Sea
I admit I had to do a little bit of research for you on that last section. So I’m just going to wing this a bit. Jordan only has a tiny bit of coastline along the Red Sea near a city called Aqaba, so we may give that a miss, but the Dead Sea is definitely on our list. Smaller than I thought it would look on a map, the Dead Sea is actually a lake between Jordan and Israel. The Dead Sea is notably so dense that one can float on the water, without the need to swim. I wonder if there’s a weight limit to this science; looking forward to testing it out!
3 – It’s safe
Jordan shares borders with Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, Palestine and Iraq. I KNOW. Yet in the middle of ongoing conflict the country is relatively very safe. Our Government website reassuringly states “Around 65,000 British nationals visited Jordan in 2016. Most visits are trouble free”. Checking on the website on the day of booking, the only “danger” areas are within two miles of the Syrian border.As you will find out below, I would argue that it would be hard to top as a place in the middle-east that has both a lot to do and requires a return flight.
4 – Day trip to Jerusalem
You’ve already read my quite annoying preference when looking at holidays, it will ideally include a visit to a different city or preferably country when at all possible.
We had already decided on Jordan but a day trip to Jerusalem is very appealing. We are slightly concerned at the prevalence of an Israeli stamp on our passports, but it’s probable we will still pay a visit, and hope any countries that have a problem we’re unlikely to want to visit anyway… *pokes tongue out*.
By speaking to friends we have established that whilst the distance is relativity short, we should expect to get a bus to the border, go through customs for an hour and then get Israeli transport to Jerusalem.
Said Israeli transport will run straight through the middle of Palestine and the West Bank, yet Gov.uk still regards it as a safe area; the only danger area being Gaza on the opposite side of the country.
5 – Everything else
The price for 9 nights in a 3 star hotel comes in a little over £500 each with flights from Heathrow. This was a lot cheaper than SF or anywhere else we looked, and £600 cheaper than Hong Kong! We don’t think Jordan will that cheap but expect to pay a bit less than UK prices. Conveniently its two weeks of the year when I tend not to drink so that’s a few hundred quid saved!
We’re sure the capital city Amman where we will be staying will also offer a lot and Denesh to the north of the city. We are aware of the citadel but more so just a change of culture, cuisine and lifestyle. I’m personally hoping this is a bit less full-on compared to recent trips, and we’ve accounted for a few rest days.
There’s a joke in here somewhere about being the best footballer to enter Jordan since Dwight Yorke. But we won’t stoop that low; it’s a family blog. It wasn’t part of the decision process.