Petra was the main reason I wanted to visit Jordan, but I had met a Jose, a Puerto Rican, on my flight from South America to Europe and he highly recommended checking out Wadi Rum in the south of the country. Only having a few short days, we decided on two days with Petra, two days in Wadi Rum and our last day a stop at the Dead Sea while on our way to the airport. Jose, my friend, I cannot thank you enough for your recommendation because Wadi Rum was the absolute highlight of my short time in Jordan. There are few places in the world as breathtaking as The Valley of the Moon.
We left our Bedouin camp outside Little Petra in the early morning, a taxi arranged for us by the camp. The morning was a little frustrating as I found out later in the taxi that we had been brutally mislead about the cost of our back tour into Petra and what was supposed to be a shared taxi was now a private, much more expensive taxi. We were easily out over $100 each. The only unfortunate thing we discovered about Jordan is that sadly people will rip you off unabashedly left, right and centre. If traveling to Jordan, I can’t urge you enough to rent your own vehicle, especially if tight on time, as taxi rates are exorbitant and bus schedules intermittent and unreliable. And if you’re arranging any sort of tours or deals with local people, ensure you settle the price and pay up front so there is no confusion. It really put a sour note on my time in Jordan and made me feel quite bitter towards how the people were conniving and ripping us off so badly. But our journey into Wadi Rum all but made up for that and let me leave Jordan with warmth in my heart.
Feeling completely bagged, I touched down in Amman, Jordan, my first Middle Eastern country, with tired eyes and an excited and open mind. We decided last minute at the Dubai airport to skip spending a night in Amman and instead head straight to our Bedouin camp near Petra and stay there two nights instead. With a tight schedule, we only had about five days in Jordan, so we had to really pick and choose where to spend our time to maximize it. The last minute decision cost us a staggering 70 Dinar (that’s about $140 CAD) to get transport to our Petra camp from the airport. It was a 2.5 hours drive in a private taxi, our only option from the airport – surprisingly we weren’t even being scammed, these were set prices by the reputable taxi company at the airport, all prices were posted. Needless to say, it hurt my backpackers soul to pay that much. Continue reading
With some flight delays and missing baggage, our little jaunt across the country wasn’t entirely smooth, but we didn’t let that dampen our moods. Our first day ended up being a freebie because no one had their bags, and thus the warmer clothing needed for our tours, so we instead got the full tour of the Michelle Dream Cave Hotel. When Butch and Brenda first came to Turkey in 2002, they had no idea they would fall in love so quickly with this incredible country and end up buying a condo and spending their winters there. They also happened to make an amazing business contact and now life long friend, Ahmed. Before they knew it, they began making plans of purchasing land and building a cave hotel. If Cappadocia is known for anything, it’s the caves! The hillsides are peppered with caves. From hundreds to thousands of years ago, these caves were carved into the mountain sides as houses, refuges, stables and pigeon houses. Today they are used as storage for lemons (the temperature remains the same in the caves year round even with the changing seasons), but mostly – they are turned into cave hotels. Continue reading
Burano is the most colourful city in the world. I’m sure of it! This place will instantly bring a smile to your face and uplift your soul. Venice is undoubtedly unique, with its lack of ‘roads’ and cars – all travel is by foot or boat through the renowned water canals. These islands will steal your heart (and your camera battery!). Take a look at some of my favourite shots from one of my favourite places! Continue reading
After the three days in Tuscany and some wonderful evenings spent at an Italian Carnival, Travis and I were heading to our last stop in Italy. We drove into Florence to park the car at the train station – we were taking the train to Venice! Travis had never been on a train before and I had only been on my first ever train since I arrived in Europe. Cars were useless in Venice anyhow, so a first class train ticket was in order! Travis wanted to get first class return as well, but I suggested we only buy one way first class to get the experience and save the money (for the record, this was a great decision as there wasn’t much difference between first class and coach!). We drove through the madness that is Florence to find the train station, then decided to park at the airport as it would be cheaper and take the bus into the train station. We left a bunch of our stuff in the car and went with lighter bags as we planned to walk all through Venice. It was a high speed train and we neared 300km/hr cruising through the Italian countryside and before we knew it we were in Venice! Continue reading
With two more beautiful souls along side us, Paul, Patricia, Travis and I cruised out of Rome to start our little road trip. Our first stop was Sorrento, a beautiful costal town humming with people that is a major port for Capri Island, a tourist hot spot. We drove down the narrow winding streets, and may have driven into an alley meant only for mopeds as our side mirrors had to be turned in and even then they nearly hit. Thank god Travis was driving; his skills and confidence behind the wheel have always amazed me! Our hotel, Il Faro, was a beautiful little gem right in the harbour with beautiful views of the ocean and the boats coming and going. The owner acquainted himself with us and gave us lots of tips, including the suggestion to have dinner at his restaurant where we would get 10% off as hotel guests. Sounded great to us! Before dinner, the other three got into a bottle of home brewed wine we picked up from a fruit stand on the side of the road . It was covered in dust and without a label, and looked slightly suspect. But for a dollar how could you complain? When we headed down for dinner, the guys let the manager know they wanted oysters, but the restaurant didn’t have them on their menu. No problem, said the manager. He made a quick call and in speedy Italian, had it set up for us. Soon the massive platter of huge mussels arrived, laid delicately atop a bed of mixed greens, red cabbage, carrot and lemon slices for colour. We squeezed the lemon on and asked if they had tabasco. Continue reading
Ever since I was a little girl I’ve felt the pull of Italy. It may have had something to do with my best friend at the age of seven being half Italian and spending many a evenings at her place, being treated to authentic Italian food that her dad would slave away in the kitchen to make us each night. I definitely didn’t realize back then how incredibly lucky I was to be getting home made Italian food. I even recall the first time he offered me prosciutto (okay, in an Italian household it’s less of an offer and more of a loving, yet forceful ‘eat this! you’ll love it!’). I bit my tongue and swallowed the salty gob down doing my best not to gag. The second he looked away, I held my hand under the table so that their labrador Moses could snatch it from my hands, helping us both out. I feigned fullness when he saw how quickly I had eaten it as he thought I must have loved it and wanted more. I’m happy to say my pallet has improved and I now do enjoy prosciutto! Continue reading
I put myself through the torture of yet another night bus from Oslo to Helsingborg, Sweden, but for good cause: I was on my way to visit my dearest Kajsa, the little Swedish one that I met within my first two weeks of travel in Guatemala on a boat (read about our first grand adventure together HERE!). We spent the next two and a half months discovering Central America together. From a 40 hour bus journey through Guatemala down to Costa Rica, to becoming certified scuba divers in Honduras; from zip lining in the Costa Rican canopy to learning acro yoga together on the shores of Lake Atitlan; from catching waves surfing in Nicaragua to dancing the nights away at music festivals on the western shores of Costa Rica; from falling off trees in the Costa Rican cloud forest to playing in the waves in Uvita; from watching the sunrise over Laguna de Apoyo to climbing volcanoes in Leon; from practicing henna on each other to swinging naked into the local swimming hole together: this girl and I found kindred spirits within each other and were inseparable. Continue reading
I came to Norway to meet my pen-pal from 16 years past (read about this amazing experience HERE!), and after a beautiful few days together, I set off to explore just a little of Norway before heading East to Sweden to visit another dear friend. After hugs and frantic waves goodbyes and endless thanks, I boarded my night bus and I was off, on the road yet again. It was so warming, so rejuvenating to spend some quality time with such a loving family, it felt like food for my soul. I snuggled in on the bus as best I could and tried to catch a few hours sleep while I headed Northwest to Ålesund, a coastal town near Geiranger, the fjord I was interested in seeing. I had daylight the last two hours of my bus ride and stared wide eyed out the window at the stunning landscapes we were driving through. We were near the coast and curving through winding roads, and under the ocean in tunnels.The mountains towered above us and I felt the excitement bubbling up in me. Continue reading
You should grab yourself a nice steaming cup of coffee, maybe a baguette and some butter, or perhaps a croissant from your local bakery, turn on some Charles Aznavour and enjoy the next few minutes as I take you on a little trip through the romantic streets of sweet, sweet Paris.
When I was in Argentina, I was lucky enough to meet the beautiful soul Stéphanie and we spent the day exploring Igauza falls together with some other lovely friends. We kept in touch, and when I was on my way over to France, she generously invited me to come and stay with her in Paris. She was currently in between jobs so she also offered to show me about the beautiful city herself – how spoiled I am! My plan was to sort of skim through Paris on my way up towards Norway, but I ended up spending four days instead of two because there was simply so much to see, and I was having such a lovely time with Stéphanie! Continue reading