After an action packed week of exploring bustling cities, ancient castles, Petra and the deserts, it was time to finally hit the very south of the country of Jordan and explore it’s port city, Aqaba. This city was a surprise… as we drove down towards the sea we saw brand new fancy mega apartment complexes, and new fancy hotels being built right by the sea. As I write this it’s been a few months of lockdowns across the world because of Coronavirus, but back in August 2019 this city was booming with tourism and wealthy city folk buying ‘holiday houses’ by the sea. While for the tourist there isn’t “much to do” it is worth a stop for it’s amazing snorkelling opportunities and the chance to relax by the sea. After a week of touring and hours spent walking in the previous days in Petra this was a welcome break. Imagine the groups surprise when we saw our hotel – an upgrade to a 5 star brand spanking new hotel complete with a bar that had happy hour! And a pool that allowed women to swim in it too! (Our hotel in Amman wasn’t very woman friendly lol).
While approximately half the group went on a boat snorkel tour the other half decided to just kick back and relax by the pool drinking icy cold drinks in the 42 degree heat. You can guess which group I went with… the second one this time! Having snorkelled in some of the worlds greatest spots and having heard the snorkelling in Jordan wasn’t that great I opted to be lazy. (When the snorkelling group returned about half said it was amazing while those who had snorkelled elsewhere said it wasn’t great). For me though I had a chilled out day swimming in the pool and chatting with some English friends. It was heaven!!!
In the evening when dusk approached and it cooled down slightly (like down to 38c lol) we explored the old town. The market area was very cool, to see locals buying spices, fish, vege and of course plastic crap from China. It was fascinating to note that there were alot of Bangladeshi mini-marts in the downtown and we noticed many Bangladeshi here compared to anywhere in Jordan. I guess they have migrated here and made a small community for themselves in Aqaba. We also walked past the mosque and then had a seafood dinner since obviously, being a port city, seafood is king here.
The next day, at 7am, myself and two friends who lazed around the hotel the previous day decided to go for a swim in the public beach in town. The big fancy hotels have their own private beach, but as our hotel wasn’t right on the water, we walked the 10 minutes to the public beach to say we had ‘swam in the Red Sea’. Well… we got to the beach, and it was PACKED! At 7am! lol! It was full of families and teenagers and to say we stood out would be an understatement. Even though I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt on top of my bathers I guess it was still too revealing as everyone from the old grannies to the teenage boys just stopped and stared. I guess it didn’t help that there was me, Mrs L who is this blond haired crazy 60+ year old and Mr I who was tall, lanky and had a dyed pink mohawk! haha. No wonder we stood out, we were an odd bunch! Anyway after a while the young boys came close and got us repeating Arabic words after them. Which of course must of been naughty words because even the old ladies in hijab sitting nearby were pissing themselves laughing and got in on the act. Although we couldn’t communicate at all, by the time we left we had a crowd of people filming us on phones and laughing at us. Everyone wanted a photo with us! I hope we didn’t end up on Jordanian news, saying naughty words for penis or something! haha. So anyway we didn’t end up having our swim but we did dip our feet in and had a fun morning interacting with locals. I don’t think I will ever see a beach so busy at 7am again though!
Anyway after getting back to our nice hotel in time for a huge awesome breakfast spread it was time to head on to our last full day of exploring before our time in Jordan came to and end. After dipping my feet in the Red Sea this morning, it was time for the Dead Sea this afternoon….