My apologies for the delay in writing this- the summer has flown by! Here it goes:
My sisters and I have been very fortunate to be exposed to travel since we were young. With several countries in Europe, South America, and New Zealand comprising our list of places we've been, and with one sister teaching in the Mid-East and the other sister about to move to the West Coast, it felt like the perfect time to check Kuwait, Jordan, and Croatia off of the travel bucket list.
Around Christmas, I started to compare flight costs with the rubik's cube of departure cities, connecting flights, and entry visas. The task was tricky: two different departure cities from the states, round-trip travel from Kuwait to two additional countries, and three return trips, again all to different cities in the states. Feeling a bit overwhelmed with the undertaking, I found your contact information on the Visit Jordan website. The day after I sent my initial email, I was on the phone with Derek, a leisure travel specialist, who took the time to explain how flights, accommodations, and land travel could all be arranged for the entire trip.
Again, my family travels quite a bit, and we have learned our lesson regarding splitting up an itinerary, so Derek walked me through connection options and departure times so that I, and each of my sisters, had a complete round-trip itinerary; the fear of being separated or stranded in a country with no plan on how to get home- should the airline delay/cancel a flight- disappeared.
The next step was accommodations and I had zero idea on where to begin. One sister wanted to camp in the desert in Jordan while I wanted to stay in a building that had a history in Croatia, while still being close to the list of things we wanted to see and do, not to mention transportation to/from each airport. Derek took this task and compiled a list of three options for each leg of our trip, ranging in cost, location, and style so we could choose what made the most sense for us and our travel style. During this process, Derek and I worked together to choose each stay based on what we would be doing in each part of the country.
Then came the most fun part, what to do when we got there! Jordan and Croatia not only are radically different from each other, but different than any other country we had visited previously; how could we choose what to see? My sisters and I each made a list of the top three things we wanted to do and thanks to how Derek had arranged our hotel stays and airport transfers, everything that was on our list as a "must-do" was done (not that there isn't so much more to go back and see)!
In Jordan, we traveled from Amman, to the Dead Sea, to Petra, and finally Aqaba.
The private transfer Derek arranged for our airport pick-up even offered to drive for us the following day from Amman to Petra with wonderful stops in between. In addition to the planned visit to the Citadel and Roman Theatre, a quick stop in Madaba showed us the beautiful mosaic work, done by hand, that you could see throughout the country and a sneak peek of the Dead Sea, from Mount Nebo, was another sight we hadn't stumbled across in all of our research. I was by far the most nervous about our desert camping adventure, but the Bedouins in Wadi Rum were knowledgeable, and so kind, we could have spent many more days wandering the desert and exploring. Luckily, while in Petra, we were taught how to tie our head scarfs to protect us from the sun, from two wonderful women who owned stalls near the Monastery, and throughout our adventure we were spoiled with the most delicious spiced foods and endless tea, making the thousands of steps we took each day that much more necessary. Less than a full day into our trip to Jordan, my sisters and I kept a list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites we had visited, and of each one we would have to come back to explore.
After our trip through the desert, arriving in Croatia on the Dalmatian Coast, could not have been more of a shock. The shifting shades of the blue water and scent of lavender was like starting a totally different trip. Every seaside town built into the cliffs was more beautiful than the last, and walking the cobblestone pedestrian streets, through alleyways to find tasty treats and local shops, was like the greatest game of hide and seek you could imagine. We visited countless monasteries and were in awe of the palaces that have lasted hundreds of years. We spent each night on the main land but after a day trip to Hvar, we immediately agreed we would need to make a return trip just to visit the islands. Seeing the Old City Walls of Dubrovnik from a sea kayak was perfect respite from the sun baked streets. We also spent one of our precious days in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Dubrovnik, to see the Mostar Bridge and Kravice Waterfalls, which was surreal and breathtaking.
Our list of places to see has only grown since our trip, and if it wasn't for our rule of visiting one new place before returning to an old one, I would have already planned our return visit to Jordan and Croatia.
Until the next awesome adventure with you as our travel expert!, thank you!