Author Bio- Maise Hunter is an ambitious traveller who has travelled across the world. She is on a journey to visit all of the Wonders of the World. She loves to explore new places, discover new things and meet new people.
Striking mountain ranges
The Middle East is the unsurpassed place to travel through. It is home to some of the oldest history in the world as well as being an exotic region hospitable to travellers.
There are many places to visit in the Middle East, but during my travels, here is my favourite. In this article, I describe two of my best destinations to visit and my all-time favourite hotel stayed in.
Egypt’s Ancient Temples
Visiting Egypt’s Ancient Temples, I couldn’t help but wonder, did Cleopatra look out from her window in Dender’s Temple of Hathor at the lake below? Quite possibly. The guide tells us that she loved bathing in the rectangular stone pool, now empty with palm trees growing within.
The ceilings inside are complexly painted with fascinating azure and gold images of the sky goodness- Nut, swallowing the sun each evening and giving birth to it again each morning. I enter an alluring crypt by crawling down a small corridor on my hands and knees and visit mudbrick ruins of a sanatorium within the temple grounds. The ruins are furnished with benches that were once occupied by the sick waiting for cures by the priest.
The best-known attraction in Egypt may well be the Great Pyramids of Giza – the lone surviving member of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But cruise the Nile River between Luxor and Aswan, and you see many ancient temples rising up in the boiling desert, captivating for their mystery and beauty.
The best way to see the temples and tombs is on a cruise. I sailed over the Oberoi Zahra, built to be the Nile’s most luxurious river boat. Except for the pyramids near Cairo, most of Egypt’s top archaeological sites are found along the banks of the Nile River between Aswan and Luxor.
Petra’s Lost City of Wonder
As my feet sunk into the soft red, I gazed up at Petra’s monuments and couldn’t help but be amazed by the genius of its ancient Nabatean builds. The beautifully carved royal tombs, sacred halls, mammoth temples and cave houses out of rose and peach rock in the Jordanian desert.
To reach Petra, a horse carried me along a stony track to the ‘siq’, the narrow 1.2-kilometre canyon snaking through one of the mountains guarding the metropolis. Sandstone cliffs soared for metres on either side of me as I walked through the siq’s twisty passage.
Then, out of nowhere, the Treasury, carved into a sheer rock wall came into view. The sunlight glowed on this monument’s front. To my left was hundreds of royal tombs, sacred halls, cave houses and even an amphitheatre sprawled before me in the desert valley.
Research has discovered that the Nabateans sculpted their monuments to capture key celestial events and create images with sunlight. I saw this with my own eyes, even hundreds of years later during my visit, when the setting sun etched a sacred lion’s head near the Monastery.
Petra’s grandest edifice, the Monastery, is inclusive of 850 sandstone stairs that twist through. It is perfect to enjoy a respite inside its awe-inspiring architecture, take in polychrome views and enjoy a refreshing tea from a simple Bedouin shack up top. Lost to the modern world until a Swiss explorer rediscovered it in 1812, only 60% of the city has been unearthed again. Who knows what other secrets this ancient kingdom may yet reveal?
Once I passed the airport-like security at the gates of this hotel, I entered a creamy gold, Jordanian stone and marble high-rise oasis. The airy lobby had several smaller parlours, where guests could take an afternoon tea or light lunch. When arriving in my room, the large suite was decorated in gold, camel and soft blue colours and it had an impressive view of the city.
While visiting Amman, the best place I stayed was the Four Seasons Hotel. The sophisticated 192 room hotel appeals to corporate executives just as much as leisure travellers too. During my stay, I shared the elevator with the president of Brazil, who was travelling on business.
In the suite, luxury touches included Bulgari Green Tea bath amenities, Italian liners and a flat-screen TV. There was a beautiful outdoor pool surrounded by columns, magical at sunset when the city is bathed in a golden glow and the call to evening prayer resonates over the hilltops.
For dinner, the excellent Oriental restaurant artfully presented a cross-over menu selection choice of Chinese dim sum, Japanese sushi (with silver chopsticks) and lightly prepared Thai curries. Or you could go Italian at the romantic Vivace, featuring black truffle risotto and braised beef cheeks with Portobello mushroom. Either way, if you visit, you’ll toddle off to your luxury bed feeling full and satisfied.
The Four Seasons Hotel is an ideal base for making a day trip to the Crusader castle of Ajloun and the ancient Roman city of Jerash- where you can watch the re-enacted live chariot races- which is about an hour’s drive from Amman.
My travels through the Middle East were extraordinary and some of the captivating sights simply cannot be described in words, you must see to believe. However, when travelling my number one piece of advice is be aware of the time of year you are travelling.
For many, a trip to the Middle East would not be complete without wandering around the chaotic bazaars while tasting the local street food, but if you are travelling during Islam’s holiest month, Ramadan, you might find that roads and bazaars are almost abandoned, with no refreshments available what so ever.
Check Ramadan dates before travelling, it is a month long festival that falls in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is the time when Muslims all around the world fast during daylight hours every day. The month brings a lot of joy to Muslims and is an incredibly important and sacred time. As well as fasting, other traditions are making donations to charities helping countries such as Syria, carrying out night prayers known as Taraweeh and retreating in a mosque for a period of time for worship, a practice known as Al-Itikaf.
More links for women travellers…
- Tours for Women around the World – including the Middle East and Egypt
- Tour Companies run by Women around the World
- Accommodation for Women around the World
- Women who are Local Tour Guides
- Retreat Places for Women Around the World
- Tours which include Retreat Themes
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