Travel

Cruising around the Venice of the North

My third time in Stockholm. Alone and happy. A perfect moment to remember Freya Stark when she said: “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure.” Couldn’t have said it better.

The flight was turbulent and we departed late, which is nothing to be upset about when one is travelling from where I am travelling. The new policy of not getting annoyed with the things I can’t change kept me in good mood. And the anticipation of my In Stockholm alone episode was thought entertaining. Stockholm is situated on 14 islands and founded in 1252. Rich history was promising an exciting affair with this city.

I was staying at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel. Such a great place to visit and experience the true Swedish hospitality. The location of the hotel itself is so convenient. You are just a few steps away from the Central Station, you have a direct bus or train lines from Arlanda Airport, so if you are one of those people who panic when travelling alone – don’t. It is impossible to miss the hotel. Also, public transportation in Stockholm is so easy to figure out so you can be completely relaxed on this point.

My room was on the 12th floor, with a stunning view to Stockholm’s Old Town. Clean, comfortable and neat. The bed was so tempting to stay forever and live in. I had only breakfast at the hotel. Great choice of food and very delicious menu. I had my other meals outside and some really adventurous stories happened on that field.

The first and second time I have visited Stockholm was due to the Stockholm University visit. A splendid complex located in Frescati area was a true vision. Gorgeous gardens and parks all around… However, it was May and Stockholm was very cold at that time. Actually, it was raining and snowing so I have decided to explore those gardens on some other occasion. 

This time, the weather was marvellous. Although literally changing in seconds from bright to the cloudy sky, it was very pleasant for hiking and exploring. Another point where the location of my hotel was superb. It took me only around 15 minutes walking to get to Gamla Stan, the Old City of Stockholm that looks like a place trapped in a fairytale. It is warm and welcoming, with lovely cafes and restaurants, gift and souvenir shops. The oldest square in Stockholm, Stortorget, is situated here, as well as Stockholm Cathedral and Nobel Museum. It is a part of the city where you can never be bored. Every narrow street hides new excitement, and you just get lost in all shades of gold, the yellow and reddish facades that take you to some other, more romantic, times.

Five days in Stockholm were enough to get two major obsessions. Not to mention that the city itself is amazing and addictive, but kanelbullar and kardemummabullar are to die for. Luscious, soft cinnamon and cardamom buns are the best pastry invention ever. They aren’t glazed like the more famous Cinnabon buns, but they have chunky sugar sprinkles and cardamom on top. They are eye catching and palate obsessing. I ate 6 one day. Don’t judge me. They are just so delicious… Not to forget, the place that sells those perfect buns is called Fabrique bakery. If you plan to go to Stockholm, live in that bakery and eat. You will not regret not being able to breathe afterward.

 Another thing that I ate in Stockholm was sushi, and I never eat sushi. Also, open shrimp sandwich was a perfection itself ( there is a name for it in Swedish, but it is way too complicated to remember it ). But, discovering Jerusalem kebab was my moment of internal screaming of happiness. Perfect hummus. Perfect falafel. I really have a strong Arabian gene. I blame Freya Stark, Sheherezade and my mother’s history books for that.

Boat tour around the city helps you observe Stockholm from so many different angles. In one part where we sailed along the residential area, people were sitting on the banks sunbathing and having good times. It reminded me so much of my own country before the war time. Everybody just looked so happy. Swedes are among nicest nations in the world. So friendly, humane and kind. And the country is so clean, safe and foreigner – friendly.

The museum I haven’t visited this time was Abba Museum. Music that I was exposed to during my entire childhood… Next time, perhaps. Some other things were a priority. Nobel Museum and The Swedish History Museum are the ones you shouldn’t miss. Great exhibits and so many things to learn about Swedish history. If you are a Viking lover, then Historiska Museet must be on your list! I have to say the curatorship of the museum impressed me, they did a really amazing job in connecting the old and the new.

Leaving Stockholm is difficult. It’s like those moments when you first fall in love and want to spend every possible moment with your beloved. Those moments when you simply don’t realize that some time apart will just make you love each other more… Until next time, Stockholm stays in my memories. Happily ever after…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel

Where Danube meets the sky

I came to Belgrade after leaving Bosnia in 1995. The war was over, but nothing was ever going to be the same. So, Bosnia was behind me, with memories that survived the destruction and fear. Going back there to visit always leave some strange feeling in my heart that I cannot define. Something between nostalgia and sense of belonging I guess. Even after more than 20 years.

I’ve always observed myself as a citizen of the world who loved different places and cultures. Having such mind frame, I easily adapted to the new environment. Belgrade became my home and I began to love it. Soon after coming here, I was aware that things were still very difficult even the war was over. And still, after so many years we feel isolated from the rest of the world. It is not easy to travel from here as it was when I was a child. Before, it was just – get your passport and go whenever and wherever you want. Now, it is – get your passport, apply for the visa (prepare to be denied) and provide an indefinite number of papers before you pack your suitcase. But, well, a human being gets used to anything. I guess when things become normal, we will need time to adjust to it.

I wish Belgrade was cleaner, safer and more open… As it was in days of old Yugoslavia, in its golden age in the 1980s. I will not talk about politics and political bashing that my country has suffered through years, some of which were justified and some were not. I hope that Serbia will rise soon in all its glory because it has so many things to offer. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that here, as well as in the entire world, religious disputes, racistic movements, attacks and conflicts of all kinds will be matters of past.

Today, I have decided to be a tourist in my town, to take a stroll as I haven’t done it in a while… I went all the way to Kalemegdan Fortress that dates from Ottoman Empire, sat on one of the benches and watched the rivers Danube and Sava meeting each other in a passionate hug. I always carry something to feed the pigeons with, because this is their hotspot. But, today, I have completely forgotten about them, so I bought them a bag of popcorn. They had lots of fun and I regretted my decision because one million of them gathered around me in less than a minute.belgrade-2506925_1280

I left Kalemegdan and its vendors, checked out some Matryoshka dolls for my nieces, but I didn’t buy any because the selection was very poor. I don’t know why they are even sold as souvenirs here when they have nothing to do with Serbia, but with Russia. Walking down the Knez Mihailova Street, I realized how this city could be beautiful if someone of authority cared about its facades and architecture… The city needs lots of work and restoration to revive the old shine. Everything I love is here, the faculties, the Student Park, Museums, National Theatrebelgrade-2515034_1280

This is the Centre of Belgrade – Knez Mihailova Street and Terazije. Inevitable Hotel Moskva and its cake selection. Overpriced – severely. Delicious – certainly.

However, my favourite part of Belgrade is Dorćol, situated in the Old City Downtown. A peaceful, residential area with nice restaurants and coffee shops. Being a sucker for anything and everything Middle Eastern/ Oriental, I have found my refuge here – café Kandahar, beautifully designed in the oriental style where I usually indulge in their rich selection of tea. I used to be their best shisha consumer before I decided I should take care of my health.

Belgrade means the white city. Its history involves Celtic, Roman Empire, Atilla the Hun, Byzantine and Ottoman invasions… Everybody wanted a “piece of cake” that was a crossroad between the East and the West. The city isn’t a white city anymore… It is a city in all shades of gray where Soviet architecture prevails.belgrade-2515036_1280

So, my stroll ends here. I shall certainly write about it on another occasion. After being in the Middle East for such a long time, I feel like I’m getting to know it all over again. It hasn’t changed much. Some things got worse, some got better. We will see how its story will unfold… I believe better days are on their way.

 

Travel

“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Oh, Mr. Darcy! Have you ever read a book in your young age and it got stuck in your mind and became a part of your entire being? I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when I was 12. As if that wasn’t enough to tempt my sensitive age, BBC made a mini series based on the same book in 1995, when I was 14 years old. That was my romantic seal, I was carved in stone of old, elegant romance and there was no way out for me. Same feelings follow me till today. Is that good? I don’t really know, but I will never give up on the idea of perfect, all consuming love.

The entire world is remembering Jane Austen in 2017, as 200 years from her death is marked this year. A true literary heroine of my teenage years, and my loyal companion through all the emotional battles of my life. Her romances do have a sentimental background, but they are very realistic, what differs her from other writers of similar profile.

Being in Sweden for a couple of days, I have found out about Jane Austen’s World exhibition, held some 60 km away from Stockholm, in Skokloster Castle. As I don’t believe in coincidences, this was a magnificent opportunity to follow my dream. Knowing it wasn’t a book exhibition, but the exhibition of costumes which were made for series and films based on Austen’s novels, I was in Skokloster the next afternoon. 

After some research, I realized that the fastest option for me to reach there was train and bus combination, so I went with that. But, I must say, a trip by boat is much more pleasant and breathtaking experience.dddd

After some 80 minutes, I reached my destination. My knees were weak as if I was going to dance with real Mr. Darcy. Entering Skokloster is like being trapped in another era. It is really a physical monument of one time. It is even said that is the only building in the entire Europe that is completely preserved in baroque style.

Now, de gustibus non est disputandum. Baroque isn’t the architecture/art style that I like, as I see it rather as grotesque, over-decorated and too dramatic in its exaggerated forms. But, there is something very grandiose in all its massiveness and monumentality. Interiors are in rich colours, with the luxurious and vivid decor and oriental carpets that my eye was immediately drawn to.

This castle was built in the Swedish Age of Greatness, in the middle of 17th century. Main architects were Caspar Vogel and Nicodemus Tessin. What I liked even more than the castle itself was a wonderful garden and lake Mälaren. The landscape is more than gorgeous, it is truly an amazing park where lawns dominate.

Costumes fit perfectly in the scenery, even though Jane Austen belongs to different historical period. My heart was bumping of excitement, but I think my ecstasy culminated after seeing a shirt that Colin Firth wore in the Lake scene. Perhaps it has been half an hour when I finally decided to move to see something else. Yes, I am 35 and I still get strongly impressed by things. ( And I’m not afraid to admit it ).

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, here is a glimpse of what I am talking about. It is one of the most romantic scenes of all times…

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The exhibition will be open until the first week in October and I hope that some among you will decide to visit. I am planning to go another time before it is over. It is really a beautiful way to spend your time. For 70 SEK you can see something that you don’t see every day. On the side the wonderful collection of paintings, these costumes are artistic masterpieces. Such attention to details, the materials they used… A perfect handcraft. 

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Yes, one adventure more. One memory more. One happy and satisfied heart because of a fulfilled dream. We never need much to be happy, because the happiness is already inside us. We just need to find it… Falling in love or thinking about love is a good way to start.

Travel

Desert Rose

My companion and I joined the group of Italian and British tourists on their trip to Petra. The bus ride was very comfortable and guides were great animators. Their enthusiasm raised my excitement of seeing one of the seven new world’s wonders. 

Petra was hidden from the eyes of intruders till the 19th century. Even now it is said that we can see only 15% of the city, while the remaining is still safe under the ground… 

We reached Petra exactly at the time of the noon prayer. It was very hot and then it occurred to me that I wasn’t really prepared for this long hike. I’ve forgotten my glasses, my sun block cream and my hat. I don’t know what my mind was busy with, but the fact I haven’t had these things with me in the middle of July was not very smart of me. 

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I’m not colour blind, but if you ask me to define the colour of Petra, I wouldn’t know to tell you. On times I felt it was the colour of terra cotta, on moments grey and pink, sometimes reddish… So vibrant, with shadows playing on a hot summer day. 

Walk to the Temple is long. Mountains and canyons making the scenery extraterrestrial. 

Nabataean culture amazed me. They had such a perfect system for collecting water, for irrigation,… I was astonished by all the information I’ve got. Local children were pestering all the ladies from the group persuading them to buy “Nabataean makeup”. They were telling me ( in perfect English ) how that colour was made for my eyes. I laughed at them and bought 3 stones that are impossible to be used as makeup. But well, I ended up with beautiful stones ( I have the custom to bring a stone from every city I visit ). Another proof that Arabs are naturally born traders.

When we finally reached the Temple, one unified “Wow” echoed… No word can describe the beauty carved in that pinkish -terra cotta- reddish sandstone. We sat at the entrance of the Temple. I did cry as I always do when I see something glorious and majestic. The aesthetics, the style, design, the place where it was built… Divine, splendid vision.ed-deir-3009_1280

It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Locals were telling us to stay until after sunset to witness Petra at night when they light candles around the Temple. I only can imagine how wonderfully romantic that scene must be. For someone who is all about love and dreams, I’m sorry I’ve missed the opportunity.

We didn’t use camels or horses to go back to the hotel. We came back walking and experienced the trail of wonders once again. Reaching the hotel made me realize that I got severe sun burns. I had a lobster red face, but I was the happiest of all.

Dinner at the Mövenpick was very delicious, but I couldn’t eat almost anything of excitement. It is the simple things that make life amazing…

Travel

City of one thousand columns

GerasaArtemis was the patron goddess of this city. According to Greek mythology, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto. As soon as she was born, she helped her mother give birth to her twin brother. That way she became the protector of childbirth.

She asked her father to grant her eternal chastity and virginity, and never gave it to any potential lovers; devoted to hunting and nature, she rejected marriage and love.

Temple of Artemis was built in the period from 150 – 170 AD. Eleven of twelve Corinthian columns resisted the centuries and still stand in all their glory. Construction of the temple is impressive and seeing it is a magical experience. Architects of that time were masters indeed… The architecture of modern time rarely excites me. Everything is built-in glass and steel… I need some terra cotta colour injected in all these shades of grey…

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Entrance in Jerash is equally impressive. Arch of Emperor Hadrian still welcomes travellers from all around the world. Corinthian columns give it a majestic look. The arch was built in the commemoration of Hadrian’s visit, in 129 AD.

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Walking down the Cardo Maximus will lead you to majestic Forum, surrounded by ( I haven’t counted ) perhaps 50 columns. All are built in Ionic style. All other city columns are found in  Corinthian style, with acanthus leaf carvings.

Theatre, Temple of Zeus, Hippodrome… As if I could hear the voices of thousands of people, discussions on politics, the horses, the chariots… It really felt like a live history lesson, with all the writings and inscriptions in ancient Greek language. 

Tourists are nowhere to be seen. It is such a magnificent site and feels so empty. Local restaurants empty as well. Local vendors complaining how nobody is buying their handicrafts.

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This is one of the best preserved Greco-Roman settlements, and I feel honoured for seeing Jerash. It was on my bucket list for a long time. 

Closing my eyes I’m visualizing how life here must have been in its golden age… Waiter coming for orders brought me back to reality… Of course, I ate only hummus and salad. Can’t get enough of these. I wonder what Emperor Hadrian ate when he came here… I must do research on that. 

Travel

Streets of Philadelphia

City of brotherly love, if we would judge by its ancient name. Today, Amman is home for around five million people. City where many found safe refuge, running away from the war in surrounding countries.

Positioned between the war zones, Jordan managed to remain a safe, peaceful country. I do believe that was a hard mission, having in mind that Jordan has borders with Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Amman is still in its safe cocoon, hopefully, it will be open to changes and the requirements of the modern world, without losing its identity.

I have lived in Amman for quite some time, but I could never call it home. Simply, its energy and mine didn’t match. It is a beautiful city, I enjoyed exploring it and getting to know it so much. But, I need sea or rivers to feel alive. As Amman is very poor with water, there wasn’t much love between us. Strong affection- certainly yes.

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Amman is the city of diversities. Whatever part one visits, it feels like a different country. As I am a history and architecture fanatic, my Amman tour started from visiting ancient sites – Roman Theatre, Temple of Hercules and Umayyad Palace dating from 8th century. Simply breathtaking. Of course, visiting Archaeological Museum helped me connect the bits of history I was missing. It was interesting to visit Jordan Museum as well as Automobile Museum. King Hussein’s Mosque is also one of the highlights of the city.

Amman isn’t what we would call a high rise city. It is specific by its stone facades. Actually, that is the first thing that catches one’s eye. Every part of it has its beauties. It is like ten cities in one. My personal favourite is city’s new downtown in Abdali, a modern “city in the city” that dominates Amman’s skyline. It is a beautiful area with lovely cafes and restaurants, as well as shopping and business centres. I hope that it will remain clean and well taken care of since residents of Amman don’t really care much about their environment.

Whoever visits Amman knows about its traffic hell. Arm yourself with patience and be prepared for all kinds of driving tricks to get to the desired destination.

Amman has some beautiful green areas in the city as well as in its surroundings. Jordan University Park and King Hussein Park are among them. Spring picnics to Al Salt areas can be very interesting and fun, too.

Being very close to Amman, Dead Sea is a favourite weekend getaway destination. Springs of Ma’ain, Aqaba, Wadi Rum, Petra, Karak, Madaba are very popular among locals as they are among tourists.

It is impossible to end a story about Amman without mentioning Mansaf. It is a national dish, made of lamb cooked in special dry yogurt called jameed. Served over rice, topped with toasted pine nuts and almonds is a dish no guest can pass without trying. Best Mansaf is my friend Lubna’s. Of course, it is so greasy one can expect to have a heart attack any time. But, it is so delicious as well. So unfeminine of me to like such a masculine dish, but I can’t help it… Between Musakhan and Mansaf, though, I choose Musakhan.

The story of Amman certainly cannot be told in a short blog post. Memories must be created by travelling to places… I can write now about Downtown of Amman and busy Mango souq, but one has to go there to visit the colourful mess, to smell the spices, to eat knafe from Habiba’s by standing in the street, to find all possible DVDs sold for 1 JD only and ruin your DVD player ( but who cares about that when you can find every possible film made anywhere in the world ), to eat hummus and falafel in Hashem Restaurant, to drink cold hibiscus drink from street vendors…

Amman will always be special in my heart because of all the wonderful people I’ve met. That is what cities are about- people who live in them. That’s what captures you. Feelings that wander around buildings and streets we once walked. No matter what happens, memories will always survive and we will remember the good things only. 

Streets of Philadelphia are waiting to be conquered again… Creating new memories is a plan… Maybe in spring. That’s when Amman is the most beautiful.

Travel

Charmed by Sharm

With all the news overflowing the media, I would lie if I say I haven’t been scared of going to Egypt. The moment I’ve reached, I stopped being afraid. So much of the truthful media coverage of the situation over here.

Sharm El-Sheikh… Charming place. Staying at Iberotel Palace. Call me uninformed, but I have never heard about this hotel before. So, it was another adventure and digging into the unknown. 

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The hotel turned out to be great, clean and close to every place I wanted to go to, so all my criteria were satisfied. The food was pretty amazing, too. Many times I have heard that food in hotels in  Egypt is terrible. Another false information is given with so much certainty. Another proof for me never to believe experiences of the others, but to create and enjoy my own. Actually, I never have the tendency to speak badly about the country I am visiting, because hormones of happiness and excitement make me forget my critical nature back home.

I had only two days to spend here. Not enough to do everything I wanted, but enough to recharge my fuel and satisfy my need for the smell of the sea. 

I am no diver, so I wasn’t interested in exploring that side of my own boundaries this time. I am sure I would need at least a week to prepare myself for the idea to put my entire body couple of meters below the surface. It is an amazing thing to do, but I admit- I am a coward. At least for now. People I have met say some of the most fantastic diving sites are in these waters. I decide to trust them without questioning the facts I was given.

Being lazy for the entire day, reading and writing on the beach, swimming till my body was hurting, having my friend reminding me every five minutes how I should eat something, these two days were finished even before they started…

The night we went out of the hotel was comic. Of course being two blonde women alone brought us some unnecessary and unwanted attention, but it wasn’t anything scary of harassing. Just several comments as “honey” came up, but I guess every woman faces that.  Being offered marriage twice, my friend and I decided to look at the funny side of it and not hold onto grudges.So, after a while, we have learned not to smile to strangers, not to talk much when buying things and certainly not to answer the provocation. Dress code should be decent. I wear long clothes during summer months even in a liberal country like mine is, but those of you who like to show some flesh…Well, be prepared for whistles and remarks, no matter how old you might be. 

Town’s souq… The old market that I was intensely drawn to. I fell in love with the shops, wood carving, the colours and the energy around it. This is true life. Life in fancy resorts is like living in oblivion. I was more than thrilled to taste this side of Egypt and load myself with all the goodies ( read- spices ) that I cannot find in Belgrade. I think the cheapest spices in the world are the spices you can buy here… That was the additional reason to fill my almost empty suitcase…

I was a shisha addict until recently when I realised that I had only one life and that I must take care of my health. However, since I don’t smoke or drink alcohol or coffee ( never did and never will ), I decided to break my own rule and just go for it. Because- life is one ( and I have to take care of it).

Such spirit led us to Farsha Lounge, a place I have heard much about and my friend was eager to see ( because a friend of a friend was here and she tried this and that ). It was like stepping into another world… Overcrowded, which I wasn’t happy about, but, with seven and a half billion other people on the planet, it is hard to find a place one can be alone and have some privacy.

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As I’ve said… It was like another world. Some might call it kitschy. I saw it as breathtaking. I think visiting at night added to its magic. I loved the atmosphere of oriental, Bedouin hedonism, with the lights and music… The smell of the sea in the air… Relaxing. And so romantic, to the point of really wanting to have someone special beside me to hug. In the end, I  decided not to have shisha after all, because of my post-reaction to smoke inhalation which is psychotic laughing… Didn’t want any extra attention. I had a very yummy fresh fruit cocktail and hugged my very special, wonderful friend. This was the night we were both going to remember. We enjoyed it so very much.

I’ve heard there is another wonderful place called 1001 nights. Next time, it is a promise to myself. I’ve just come to test the waters this time.

I am happy I wasn’t disappointed. It is a great place to rest, have fun and involves in activities this resort has to offer. I am sure it would be great to come back and enjoy all the things I’ve missed on this occasion. A person like myself would easily get bored after two days of frying on the beach… I need some action. Desert safari perhaps, or snorkeling at least,… I’m convinced that the next visit will be memorable.

Until next time, I am leaving charmed by Sharm. When I finish my spices, I shall find my way back.

Travel

Aqaba – عروس البحر

My first contact with Aqaba happened on June 27, 2008. It was love at first sight. I was so intoxicated by its smell, its people, its gorgeous sea, its old shops and bakeries… Love itself. Its hot summer was my first experience with the heat of the Middle East. I loved it, but in the beginning, I felt like I wasn’t going to survive until the next day. 

Falling in love with Aqaba is easy. It is a small city on the Red Sea, four hours drive away from Amman and 50 minutes by plane. After passing the customs and entering Aqaba area, the air starts to smell differently. Or that is just me being overly romantic… 

As a city, Aqaba is divided into numbers. I have lived in the tenth area – a lovely neighborhood which is a couple of minutes away from the city’s next hot spot – Ayla, a magnificent project that is going to be a true oasis once it is finished.

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Today, I’ve returned to Aqaba as a tourist. For one day only. Overwhelmed with memories it wasn’t a “meeting” that passed without tears. I’ve stayed at Mövenpick Hotel, Resort and Spa Tala Bay, located some 30 minutes driving from the  King Hussein International Airport. This hotel is my favourite when Aqaba is concerned, because of its hospitality and great food, including the Mövenpick Hotel in City Centre as well. I used to spend a lot of time here, so it somehow feels like home. Contemporary, yet with strong oriental touch in design, it provides everything that one tourist needs – comfort, great spa centre, great gastronomical experience, safety and high level of hygiene. 

As a foodie, I must recommend Casalingo restaurant. Judging by its name that means home cooking, I had to give it a try. Wonderful, homemade – style food. Great choice of pasta, risottos, and antipasti. A real Italian experience in the centre of the Gulf of Aqaba. Also, Mövenpick ice cream is a must – try as I find it to be of exquisite quality. Gelato par excellence.

To experience Arabian flavours, stick to buffet dinners at the hotel or go out to the old city market and indulge in shawurma, falafel, hummus and other delicacies ( I use this word on purpose because for me, tasting well-made shawurma can be as ecstatic as caviar ).

Aqaba, unfortunately, isn’t a city with many cultural events. However, there is an Archaeological museum where one can learn a lot about the history of this wonderful city. 

What I love about Aqaba is the fact that walking will get you everywhere! To the old market, to the city beach and beach bazaar, to restaurants, mosques, Aqaba “waterfalls” in Tunis Street where the entire city gathers to drink tea… In the night, of course, if you are visiting in the summer period.

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Nobody can leave Aqaba without a bag of spices or nuts ( in my case several bags of spices and nuts )! The best shop to visit is definitely الشعب. Their assortment of spices, nuts, dried fruits, candies and chocolates is amazing. Everybody must shop here. It is impossible to leave without buying something!

I will not talk much about shopping centres and malls because I really see no sense in getting lost in them while you can explore other things. But, just to mention Aqaba City Centre, Dream Mall and, of course, inevitable China Town and Shweikh Mall for those who are interested.

Aqaba is heaven for people who love water sports and activities. Scuba divers come to Jordan from all around the world because of its amazing coral reefs. Snorkeling, para gliding, para sailing, water skiing… If you are into such adventures – Aqaba is definitely a place to be. Also, you will notice glass-bottom boats everywhere and if you go for such experience, you will be able to experience Aqaba sea wonders by sitting on the boat and watching fish, corals, and not to forget, a tank Aqaba city government has sunk to make diving “more interesting”(?!). This information, however, should be checked because my source isn’t  a very reliable one. Aqaba Aquarium is a place you don’t want to visit and waste your time on. It is not presentable and it is surely not something the town should be proud of. 

I have never had any bad experience in Aqaba. People are friendly, welcoming and nice. Women are especially concerned when traveling to the Middle East alone or with female friends because of the stories that are spreading all around. That is not the case with Aqaba. You can really find peace here. Indeed, this town is very safe. I do suggest wearing decent clothes, but I assume that is something appropriate and expected to wear elsewhere in the world as well. Of course, having an accent and pale skin will make you a target for sellers and you will pay more when buying souvenirs, jewelry,… But, there is an art of bargain that I have never learned. That makes me the world’s best customer. 

Sand art is sold through entire city with motives of camels and the city itself. It is very interesting to observe these artists filling small glass bottles with sand of all colours and “painting” while smoking and talking. It is a craft that they’ve learned by hearts and when they do it, it looks so easy. 

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Wadi Rum and Petra can’t be omitted once you come to the south of Jordan. But, you need at least a day for each. I haven’t had that time during this visit. I hope to come back soon and get my dose of glorious terracotta sand and live the scenes of Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones…

It is difficult to say goodbye to Aqaba. One always needs more of it. Again, maybe it is just me… Sun is going down, making the entire area exploding in shades of bronze. I am getting on a ferry and leaving to Egypt. As the Bride of the Sea fades away, some strange feeling is squeezing my heart… I will miss it always. It reminds me of lost love, special moments and calls for the prayer I used to wake up with. Now I have new memories to remember…