This past weekend, some of the CLS participants and I went to Aqaba for the weekend. Aqaba is a city in Jordan located at the northeastern tip of the Red Sea. In fact, from our hotel, we had a clear view of both Palestine and Egypt on the other side of the Red Sea! Our trip was amazing as Aqaba’s beaches are gorgeous.
We left for Aqaba Thursday evening after school and got there by bus from Amman. The bus that goes this route is actually quite nice, with air-conditioning and a few TVs from the ceilings. As it was Ramadan, people did not eat until the sunset, so it was such an interesting experience to break the fast with everyone on the bus (they even sold some food on the bus). A passenger on the bus walked around to give each person a date (one eats a date at the start of iftar), so it was such a pleasant group experience.
We got there in the night (it’s about a 4 hour drive to Aqaba) and went to a restaurant to eat some dinner before going to our hotel. Our hotel was quite cheap, and the accommodations reflected a bit of the price, BUT we had a wonderful view of the beach, as we were situated right on the beach! We hung out on the beach a bit before going to bed.
The next morning, we made some phone calls and got a deal at another hotel with a private beach. We made a few stops at some local shops to pick up some breakfast (as nothing is open during the day during Ramadan– the main souk was completely deserted!) and then headed to the beach.
The beach was so beautiful! There was a pool that overlooked the beach so we switched between swimming in the sea and pool. The water in the sea was so clear; it was amazing! In the afternoon, we went snorkeling which was so so so amazing because once one swims father out, the floor suddenly drops, and one can just see bright blue deep water as far as one can see. It was overwhelmingly beautiful.
The next day, we went to a public beach and got snorkeling gear once again. We went to see the “Japanese Gardens”, which is along the coast. It has its name because the floor is covered with different plants and fish, so it looks just like a garden. This was absolutely stunning as well. Some Jordanians started talking with us and then gave us a tour of the poisonous fish in the Red Sea (I guess good to know..?) as well as showed us a sunken tank. Not only did we also get to see an eel, but they dove down to pick different things deep in the sea and I touched various fish as well as snake skin. The craziest part was when they brought an octopus and I held it and put it on my head!!! The weirdest (and of course most fashionable) hat I’ve ever worn!
We finished the evening by eating iftar at Lebnani Snack (a Lebanese fast food place). Outside of the restaurant they were giving out free juice for people to take to break the fast and the policemen were even handing out little boxes of dates!
All in all, I love Aqaba. It is very walking-friendly as the main roads have sidewalks that are not broken or have trees planted in the middle of them (unlike the obstacle courses in Amman) and the people were so friendly. An overall great trip!!