It's been a while since my last Jordan update, so here's something from one of the coolest and most chilled out days we spent in the country. Our fourth day was spent in Aqaba. After previously getting wowed by the light show at Petra by night and after sleeping under the starry skies in Wadi Rum (more on that later!), we had a day of leisure planned in Aqaba which is the only coastal city and a port in Jordan. When I read the itinerary, I merely thought a cute little boat ride meant a chance for me to relax and unwind and sip on something chilled.
Since I'm not a geographical expert (even though I'd love to be one), I was unaware of how the Gulf of Aqaba merged into the Red Sea. So it was pretty exciting to wander off into the Red Sea and of course, our expert boat navigator who also cooked us an amazing meal and doubled up into our lifeguard when we anchored, encouraged us to go snorkeling to view the famous Red Sea corals that were round 30-40 metres away from where we anchored. The only catch, we were going to have no life jackets. I've never swam in open sea before, and this was an exciting offer I definitely could not resist.
I was probably the second one who jumped overboard. Armed with flippers on my feet and my scuba gear around my neck, I made my way. Of course, once again I underestimated my strength, or my weakness, and the water was too choppy for me. Swimming against a current with water constantly splashing on your face is not an amazing feeling. I was already worn out by the time I was half way there and so instead of risking it and pushing through, I chickened out and made my way back. After I caught my breathe and relaxed my sore muscles, I swam a few meters around our boat and was one of the last people out of the water. A few of my travel buddies made it to the corals though and I envied them
But not so much, because after my failed swim, I decided lounging around on the boat was good enough for me. Soon, we were treated to grill fish and chicken that was prepared right there in the middle of the sea. Quite an amazing moment. Not to mention the cellular network and connectivity on my local sim was so good, that I actually managed a Facebook video call to my family where I made them envious of the gorgeous views around me.
Soon after out little cruise, we were checking into Movenpick Aqaba, which has some amazing decor that will leave you in complete awe, we had some down time where I decided to edit some pictures (because Instagram!) but my room was blessed with such an amazing view of the sea that beckoned to me, that I almost forgot I spent half the day swimming and already swallowing sea water. So I headed out for a swim again. This time I was faced with a dilemma. I could either go soak in the sea or to one of Movenpick's many pools. Surprisingly, the pool won, because someone texted me and told me there was a hot tub. Not to mention, the pool was partly shaded and I really needed some of that. So I hung out with a few friends and made a few others in the hot tub (not as awkward as it sounds) and had nice evening.
After I was done shriveling up like a prune, it was time to get ready and head to a fancy dinner. The Royal Yacht Club is not only a top choice in Aqaba (and featured in Lonely Planet) but it also overlooks the pier, has a distant view of Israel and serves Italian and Mediterranean food. It's safe to say, we ate the night away. And we weren't done there of course. As we walked the short distance back to Movenpick, some decided to drift towards the marketplace in search of spices and a few others to take pictures. I decided to look for alcohol and that's where I came across Jordanian Araq (which is really strong) which was pretty different to what I usually drink. I'd recommend a shot of it especially if you're a fan of anise. I ended up picking a couple of bottles that I stashed into my checked in luggage, because why not?
Again, one day was not enough, but was a great preview of what the city has to offer. Aqaba was not as conservative as I thought it would be, I packed full coverage swimsuit but I saw a lot of local women, and women from neighbouring countries, all in bikinis. The people were really friendly; I mean I did manage to make friends in the hot tub and even had a random stranger advice me on which Jordanian wine was better. So it was definitely a really great and eventful day!