Every person I know who has been to the Middle East has claimed it’s one of their favourite trips, and I completely agree! This is by far my favourite trip in the last 2 years, that’s a big call I know!
My trip was 4 days long, return flight to Tel Aviv. My only regret was not making this trip longer, there’s so much to see in Israel! And Jordan is just an incredible country where you can just spend days hiking in Petra or Wadi Rum.
I think what fascinated me most about this trip was the culture shock of Jewish people. I know I sound naive by saying this but I haven’t been exposed to orthodox Jewish people before, even getting on the flight where 80% of the people on board were Jewish, was a learning curve for me. I love being in a country where I feel like a foreigner and my senses are adapting to new sights and people. This to me is the epitome of travelling. This is what I live for, to learn and embrace new cultures.
I won’t go into details about the Jewish culture, because frankly it’s embarrassing how little I know about them. My first night in Tel Aviv I was already hooked. Look at this sunset! I was lucky enough to meet another fellow Aussie at my hostel to have drinks and dinner with on my first night.
I should also mention that Israel and Jordan can be expensive. Prices were pretty close to what you pay for in London, but like everywhere in the world, if you escape outside the city center, things are slightly cheaper. Surprisingly, taxis are cheap.
I started my trip with a 2 day tour to Jordan.I booked my tour through Tourist Israel. Yes it is expensive, in total you’re looking at approx US$500 for everything (including visa fee, border fee, accommodation, meals and etcs). But if you’re time restricted like me, I highly recommend it. My tour guide was wonderful, he was extremely knowledgeable about Jordan and enjoyed spending time with us.
I have a lot of respect for Jordan, even though it’s not so much a democracy, the royal family controls everything and the people have so much trust in them. My tour guide was telling me that Jordan has no natural resources, like no natural gases nor oil, nor mining, so they decided to invest in their people. It is one of the fastest countries to decrease their percentile in illiteracy, from 80% down to 9% in the last few decades. They give females the right to vote, education, in general – equality. My guide told me a story that I will never forget, ‘I drove to work one morning, it was raining and saw a girl waiting by the bus stop with no umbrella, waiting for the bus to come take her to university. I don’t think she realised she had just missed one and the next one will be in an hour – but I can guarantee you she will wait in the rain, as long as it takes, so she can get to school and get her education’. Women in Jordan are treated equally as men, education is free for everyone, there is now a ratio of 1 female to every 3 males getting their PhD.
I had a bit of a giggle when I noticed everywhere I went I was greeted by men and the customer service was provided by men, made me think, were the women in the back office doing the analytics? Fun Fact, Jordan has the highest divorce rate in the Middle East. For many reasons to do with culture and education – divorce in general is unheard of in the Middle East.
After getting picked up for the tour, you’re on the bus for 5 hours heading south down to the Jordan/Israel border. Travel tip: carefully think about your passport, at this point entering Jordan your passport will be stamped. Israeli government are now printing out little visa passes for you to carry along with your passport to avoid getting stamped. Jordan, however will ask you for your passport to get stamped. You can opted to fill out a form for them not to stamp your passport. This is extremely important if you’re a traveller who travels often to Muslim countries (including Dubai). Believe me, bordered countries will interrogate you about your trip once they see the stamp – in extreme consequences, some might not even let you enter their country.
Our first stop was straight to Petra! I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing Petra is! My only advice is 2 hours in Petra with this tour was not enough. If you really want to enjoy Petra to its fullness, 2 days will be good. Stay overnight in Petra, see the treasury at night, and hike to the monastery. Be warned, it’s a lot of walking.
One of the 7 Wonders of the World. Pretty special to see it in person.
After seeing Petra, we retrieved to a camp site in the desert of Wadi Rum.
It was more glamping, I mean we had everything including wifi – in the middle of nowhere!
We got up early to walk up to the lookout to see the sunrise, and it will go down as one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
Day 2, we spent time exploring Wadi Rum. And like everything else on this tour, we did it in style – in a 4 x 4 wheel drive!
Wadi Rum is one of those places where you completely lose yourself in the moment.
After spending the morning in Wadi Rum, we started making our way back to Israel.
Crossing back into the Israeli border – they will ask you a million questions, get your tour itinerary ready! If you’re wondering why you constantly get questioned, it’s because the countries surrounding Israel are trying to start a war to conquer Israel as their own. The Israelis are very conscious of any corruption and explosives entering their country. I believe they have every right to be cautious.
After passing border control, our next stop was the beach front city of Eilat, also known as the Red Sea, separating Israel and Jordan.
So glad I got the chance to visit the Red Sea!
On my third day, I decided to take another day tour, this time exploring Jerusalem and the Dead Sea!
Jerusalem fascinates me endlessly. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a religious person. But I have never been to a city where the entire city is so conflicted with religion, and you almost feel like your walking on thin ice. I say this because I was very careful on expressing my own opinions and beliefs, because not everyone will be warm towards it.
Jerusalem as some of you may already know is where Jesus walked throughout his life, where he died and also where he resurrected, a big significant city to the Christianity religion. Not far, is also a Mosque for the Muslims living in Jerusalem. And of course Jerusalem is also the capital of Israel, which is the holy city for the Jews. In total there are 1204 synagogues, 158 churches, and 73 mosques within the city. Although their efforts to make it a peaceful city for all religions, I do feel it’s not safe to express your religion in certain quarters – just be careful. After all, Jerusalem has been rebuilt like 4 times.
Markets in Jerusalem.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was crucified, a stone with his blood, and the burial grounds of Adam (Adam & Eve).
In the Jewish Quarter of the Western Wall – also known as the Waling wall.
Overall, Jerusalem is a beautiful city filled with history and I would have liked to spend more time learning about the different religions.
Now, on a fun note – next stop was the Dead Sea!
The saltiest place on the planet, where it was impossible to drown, and a dangerous place to pee in the sea (you’ve been warned).
I spent my final day exploring Tel Aviv, and relaxing on the beach.
Exploring old town Jaffa.
Tel Aviv pleasantly surprised me with their art scene and their Pride atmosphere, I felt very safe in Tel Aviv – I was walking around the beach on my own at 9pm and it was completely safe.
Pretty much every meal I ate had a side of salad – I do actually love this!
Another reason why this trip has been so memorable to me is because of the people I met along the way. I always feel so empowered by other solo female travellers, especially in destinations where it can appear ‘unsafe’ to travel. This blog is dedicated to all females who are brave enough to venture out alone in seeking answers to fulfill her curiosity that is entrapped in her mind.