It’s not every day that you attend an event for an airline’s new holiday product and leave with an offer to attend a press trip to some of the best places to visit in Jordan.

Party for easyJet Holidays

Last Wednesday evening I was invited to the easyJet Holidays launch party to celebrate the company’s new travel offerings. After a night of costumes, cocktails, canapes, and mechanical camels, I was introduced to the communications director of the airline, who subsequently offered me a spot on easyJet’s inaugural flight to Jordan on Sunday. Not bad for a party favor.

Canapes at the easyJet Holidays launch party in London

Before I went on the trip, a lot of people asked me if it was safe to visit Jordan. Given the political upheaval in some areas of the Middle East, they thought I should proceed with caution. I’ve never been one to worry about that kind of thing, though, and I was certain that if the airline was going ahead with the trip, I didn’t have a reason to worry.

Ceramic bowls at a market in Jordan

On Sunday morning I made my way to London’s Gatwick Airport and was greeted at the gate with a glass of Champagne and a chocolate cupcake with orange frosting in honor of the airline’s signature color. I met the team from the airline, then listened as easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall made a speech to welcome passengers and press trip attendees to the first easyJet flight from London to Amman.

Champagne on an easyJet flight from London to Amman

A few minutes later we were all settling into our seats on the plane. I was sitting behind Carolyn and in front of a Jordanian man that eagerly told her how excited he was about the new route. Before now, he could only afford to take his family back to Jordan once a year, but with the low-cost carrier in the mix, he had already booked three round-trip flights for them between now and December.

Elephant souvenirs at a shop in Jordan

The journey itself was a smooth five-hour ride on a flight that was scheduled to operate every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The Champagne was flowing in honor of the occasion, and the food, which was normally for purchase, was free for those of us on the press trip.

Plane hosed down after easyJet's inaugural flight from London to Amman

When we arrived at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, we were given a warm welcome before we even got off the plane. Two fire trucks on the side of the tarmac sprayed a ceremonial arc of water over the aircraft as we taxied to our gate. When we alighted there was a crowd of media and dignitaries to welcome Carolyn and the team.

Carolyn Mcall after easyJet's inaugural flight from London to Amman

Once the photo op was done, we proceeded to a conference room in the airport for speeches and the cutting of a large orange-and-white cake. Everyone from the Minister of Tourism to the Head of Civil Aviation and a representative from the British Embassy shared remarks to commemorate the occasion.

Jordanian Minister of Tourism at a press conference after easyJet's inaugural flight to Jordan

Their words emphasized the safety and stability of the country in a time of turmoil in the surrounding region, as well as Jordan’s links with the UK and the fact that easyJet’s new route would make tourism and travel more accessible and affordable for people living in both countries.

Roman amphitheater in Amman Jordan

After the speeches there was a reception with copious amounts of canapes and Jordanian sweets. At that point I had a chance to meet some of the others on the press trip, including journalists from The Times, City A.M., the Daily Express, and other publications. I was the only blogger on the trip, which made me somewhat of an anomaly (hopefully in a good way!).

easyJet flight attendants lining the stairs after easyJet's inaugural flight from London to Amman Jordan

When the reception wrapped up we cleared customs and took a bus to our hotel, the Marriott Amman. On the way, I looked out the windows for signs of any political protests. The closest I came to seeing one was a number of cars blocking a traffic roundabout. Only two people were out of their vehicles, and the sole inconvenience it caused was to make us a few minutes late getting to our hotel. I wasn’t worried.

Camel toys in a souvenir shop in Jordan

After checking in, we had a huge buffet dinner, complete with all kinds of good Jordanian lamb, rice, hummus, tabouleh, and other local dishes. During the meal I was able to talk to some of the easyJet people that were on the trip with us. Among other things, I was happy to learn that the airline had added extra planes to reduce flight delays during the busy summer season.

Minaret in Amman Jordan

Dinner went pleasantly late, and the next morning we met for breakfast with Carolyn. She told us about easyJet’s recent partnership with VisitBritain to attract more visitors to the country over the next four years. We also heard about a look-a-like contest for Prince William and Kate Middleton. Ten couples would win the chance to fly to London for the royal wedding festivities and compete for a year’s worth of easyJet flights.

Roman ruins in Amman Jordan

After breakfast I went into Amman with one of the other journalists and a member of the Jordan Tourism Board. Having been to Amman twice before without ever actually seeing it during the day, I was excited to finally see the Jordanian capital in the sunshine.

Nuts for sale at a market in Amman Jordan

We started out by a beautiful mosque that was next to a great vegetable market. Everything from hot pink pickled cauliflower to fresh green almonds was on sale. If I hadn’t just eaten breakfast, I would have wanted to try it all.

Fresh almonds for sale at a fruit and vegetable market in Amman Jordan

From the market we passed a Roman nymphaeum, which, like the city of Jerash that I saw on my previous trip to the country, was one of many Roman ruins in Jordan. From there we made our way down the street to another of the city’s ancient landmarks, the amphitheater. Dating back almost two thousand years, it was breathtaking.

Amman Roman amphitheater steps

A group of schoolchildren sat on the large stone seats singing songs as we climbed the steps for views of the city and the ancient citadel on the opposite hill.

Amman Roman amphitheater in Jordan

After visiting the amphitheater we stopped for a quick bite of falafel at a hole-in-the-wall shop. As we ate, I couldn’t help but think about how peaceful the streets of Amman were. While there had been reports of protests the previous Friday, there was no sign of them now. I felt completely safe.

Jordanian flags in Amman Jordan

Back at the hotel, we boarded the bus and drove the 40-minute distance to Madaba. I had been there on my first trip to Jordan a year and a half ago, but the famous mosaic map of the Holy Land on the floor of the Greek Orthodox church still impressed me.

Mosaic on the floor of the Greek Orthodox church in Madaba Jordan

From the mosaic, we walked down souvenir-lined streets to a restaurant called Haret Jdoudna. I had high expectations for the food, what with being told by several people that it was one of the best restaurants in Jordan. As we settled into heaping plates of mezze and meat, I couldn’t help but agree that everything was excellent. Despite being a bit on the touristy side, it was definitely a winner.

Haret Jdoudna restaurant in Madaba Jordan

During lunch I sat next to the easyJet pilot that had flown us from London to Amman. He was full of great stories about the aviation world. I learned from him that Innsbruck, Gibraltar, and Funchal are three of the most difficult airports at which one can land in Europe, and that pilots have to qualify to fly to and from them.

Magnets in a souvenir shop in Jordan

After finishing lunch we boarded the bus again and traveled to Wadi Musa on the King’s Highway. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Movenpick Petra, I had a sense of deja vu from my first trip to Jordan. But it didn’t last long. Rather than see the famous lost city of Petra during the day like I had done on my previous visit, the plan was to do the famous Petra by Night tour.

Dancers performing on the Petra by Night tour in Jordan

We first had a quick drink in what we were told was the oldest bar in the world. It was set in a rock cave that had been hand-chiseled into the side of a hill.

Oldest bar in the world in Petra Jordan

Refreshed, we started down the path that led to the narrow Siq that kept Petra hidden from the world for so many years. All along the trail were candles lighting the way to the famous treasury. They were beautiful under the starry sky, and provided just enough light to guide us in the total darkness.

Candles on the Petra by Night Tour in Jordan

When we reached the treasury, we saw a stunning sight. It wasn’t the treasury itself. It was the hundreds of candles dotting the foreground in front of it. As we sat down and sipped tea, we were serenaded by musicians playing music in the darkness. It was surreal.

Hundreds of candles at night in Petra Jordan

When the music ended, we walked from the treasury into the heart of Petra. Again the way was lit by candles, but apart from the dim light they threw onto the path, the rest of the area was immersed in the night. Having been to Petra before, I knew to try to make out the forms of the amphitheater, the tombs, and other highlights, but part of me wished the area had been floodlit.

Then a journalist from The Times pointed out to me that my floodlights would be a sign that mass tourism had engulfed Jordan, and I accepted that maybe it was indeed better to have a less Disney-fied experience.

Candles in front of the treasury on the Petra by Night Tour in Jordan

After stopping to watch a short performance by a group of singers, we sat down for an outdoor feast at one of the restaurants in Petra. Having dinner in the ancient city was a very unique experience, and as the many small plates made their way around the table, we watched dancers and musicians performing for us.

Mezze dinner at a restaruant in Petra on the Petra by Night tour in Jordan

After a late night in the lost city, we boarded the bus the next morning for our final place to visit in Jordan: the Dead Sea. En route to the salty body of water, our bus broke down. We were told that another one would be there to pick us up in 30 minutes. Skeptical, I braced myself for the inevitable announcement after 30 minutes that it would take another 30, and so on.

Jordan valley

In the meantime, we enjoyed the gorgeous views over a green valley nestled between two arid hills. To the west we could just make out the contours of the Dead Sea as if it were a desert mirage. Closer in, I met a friendly caterpillar that tried to hide under my shoe.

Caterpillar in Jordan

Then 30 minutes later a bus arrived and proved me wrong. Off we went to the Movenpick at the Dead Sea. We arrived slightly late, but not so late as to miss lunch.

Movenpick Dead Sea Jordan resort

During the meal I got to sit next to Carolyn, who in conjunction with Lawrence Hunt from the airline’s partner, Lowcosttravelgroup, told us about easyJet Holidays. Independent travelers would be able to mix-and-match flights and hotels to create a trip that offered them all of the protection of a package holiday without the rigidity of set dates and group travel.

Movenpick hotel by the Dead Sea in Jordan

Lunch was followed by several hours of free time. Many of us made our way down to the hotel spa, which had several swimming pools. These included a few with water from the Dead Sea. Having forgotten a bathing suit, I settled into a lounge chair by one of the pools and took a nap under a large umbrella.

Beach on the Dead Sea in Jordan

When it was time to leave, I walked down to the beach to get a better view of the sea, and then wandered back through the gardens, pools, and expansive hotel grounds until I reached the lobby. There I met up with the rest of the group and boarded the bus for the airport.

Hibiscus flower at the Movenpick resort on the Dead Sea in Jordan

The return flight wasn’t very full, as easyJet hadn’t started marketing the route in Jordan yet. As such, I had a whole row to myself. After a quick sandwich, I stretched out across the seats and took a five hour nap as the plane cruised smoothly over Europe.

Souvenirs at a shop in Jordan

It was almost midnight when we landed at Gatwick Airport. We all congregated by the baggage claim area and said our good-byes before heading off in the direction of home. As my train to Victoria Station chugged along towards central London, I couldn’t help but be happy to have had the chance to return to Jordan.

Jordan souvenirs

While the trip covered areas that I had been to before, each of the places to visit was done in a different way than my previous experiences. I was able to fly a low-cost airline. I was able to see Amman during the day and Petra during the night. I was able to enjoy a great meal in Madaba instead of just stopping to see the mosaic map. And I was able to visit a hotel right on the Dead Sea instead of a short drive away in Ma’in.

Banner in Jordan

Above all, I was able to experience Jordan in a time of regional turmoil after visiting twice during a period of relative peace. I came away from the trip feeling like the country was still safe to visit, and being glad that I got to discover that firsthand. easyJet also flies to Cairo, so I might just have to test out their new holidays product and see how Egypt is faring.

17 Comments on Lady Returns to Jordan

  1. Justin Morris
    March 31, 2011 at 10:58 am (6 years ago)

    Awesome photos and great write up mate! Must have been a wicked opportunity to go out on the inaugural flight.

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      March 31, 2011 at 11:08 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks Justin! It was great to be on the inaugural flight!

      Reply
  2. Andi
    March 31, 2011 at 10:58 pm (6 years ago)

    Wow, what an incredible experience!

    Reply
  3. veggietestkitchen
    April 1, 2011 at 4:14 am (6 years ago)

    Wow, this sounds like an amazing trip, and dinner in Petra especially so. Luck plays a huge role in the opportunities we’re given in life, but I digress. Two burning questions, what was the weather like while you were out there, and do you think the 5hr flight would be bearable in the std. easyjet accomodation?

    Cheers.

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      April 4, 2011 at 1:08 am (6 years ago)

      Thank veggietestkitchen! The weather was warm in Amman and Petra, and pretty hot at the Dead Sea. I think the flight would be fine in the normal easyJet conditions. The only thing I would miss is a reclining seat.

      Reply
  4. Mehdi
    April 2, 2011 at 9:13 am (6 years ago)

    Note: For Egypt, easyJet only operates to Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and Luxor. Great write up, was glad to be your Flight attendant on the flight.

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      April 4, 2011 at 1:05 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks Mehdi!

      Reply
  5. Emily
    April 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm (6 years ago)

    What an amazing trip. I’ve wanted to visit this part of the world since taking a few classes on politics in the Middle East in college, but sadly it’s a bit of a trek from Chile. I had no idea it was only 5 hours from London. I know we’ll get there sooner or later, but seeing this made me want to hop on the next flight right away.

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      April 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Emily! It is definitely worth a visit!

      Reply
  6. Barbara Weibel
    April 6, 2011 at 8:48 am (6 years ago)

    Ah Jordan! Definitely on my most wanted list.Might even happen this fall. You are one lucky dog!

    Reply
  7. A Man in the Metropolis
    April 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm (6 years ago)

    Nice work, Lady!
    Can almost hear the flute, taste the mezze.

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      April 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks! It was great to meet you there!

      Reply
  8. Ceri
    April 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm (6 years ago)

    Wow. What a wonderful trip. I’ve always wanted to visit Jordan. I love the way you lay out your posts about your trips. It makes me feel like I’m right there, experiencing it with you. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Eid Nawafleh
    December 26, 2011 at 11:54 am (5 years ago)

    Dear Juliy.
    Greetings from Petra – Jordan.
    thank you so much for your nice articels about Jordan and Petra. and it was my great pleasure to meet you that night it is a really nice party for Easy Jet and all the Memebers in Easy Jet … I hope that you enjoy the Petra By Night and the gala dinner inside Petra.
    With all my best regards,
    Eid Nawafleh
    Director
    Jordan Tours

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      December 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you Eid! It was lovely to meet you there as well. I had such a good time on the trip!

      Reply
  10. Jordanian Greetings
    February 12, 2014 at 6:49 pm (3 years ago)

    Greeting from Jordan,

    its good to know how much you’ve enjoyed the hospitality of our country, we’re looking forward to your next visit 🙂

    Regards
    Hani

    Reply

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