I’ve been procrastinating on writing about my trip with Columbia Sportswear and the Jordan Tourism Board since returning to the States because I still sort of can’t believe that whole thing happened.
My whole trip began with boarding my first flight out of Montrose Regional Airport. I fell in love with the cute airport when I found out that security only opens an hour before the flight (the free wifi doesn’t hurt either). After I landed in Chicago, I headed to baggage claim where I simply grabbed the big blue Columbia bag coming around the baggage carousel… and discovered it belonged to Justin! The Dream Team had been reunited by United.
Justin and I made our way to the international departures terminal at O’Hare where the #OmniTen reunion was happening—seeing everyone was awesome. As passed through security, ate dinner, and then prepared to board the plane, excitement was definitely building. (Although, if I’m honest, meeting up with friends at the airport felt totally normal.) It had been a really long time since I’d been on a trans-Atlantic flight so I was a tad apprehensive about the long flight but while most of the guys started watching Frozen I promptly fell asleep and woke up somewhere over the Alps.
As the plane began its descent into Amman, the fact that we were arriving in Jordan suddenly became real. Feeling that perfect mixture of travel exhaustion and excitement, we filed off the plane, got our visas, waited for our luggage, then boarded the bus for our hotel. In the bus, we met Pedro & the rest of the film crew. (The film crew was awesome, I walked around feeling like a superstar the whole trip.)
Our first dinner was at Wild Jordan where we dined on delicious local organic food and continued our bonding experience as an #omniten group. In what would become a regular feature of dinner, we received a “here is how to dress tomorrow” statement but no real clue as to what the day’s activities would include.
Our second day adventure was touring the ruins of the ancient Roman city Gerasha in Jerash. Walking around the ruins were really impressive although my favorite memories of this day will definitely be taking photos with the Jordanian school girls. Heather, Erika, and I were absolutely swarmed!
After Gerasha, we had a huge lunch spread at the house of a family in Ajloun. Their hospitality was absolutely wonderful and the food was delicious. Returning to Amman, we visited the Citadel where we saw Hercules Temple, a mosque, and more.
After leaving the Citadel, we made time for a quick run to the Columbia store in the mall. Although perhaps not a crazy outdoor #tryingstuff adventure, it was really fun to see some of the European products (besides, I think we made the salespeoples’ day). We were able to grab quick showers at the hotel before heading out again to eat at Sufra. This was probably my favorite meal of the whole trip. Served family style, we got to try tons of traditional Jordanian food all while watching our bread being made.
We ate breakfast at the hotel and headed to Royal Jordanian Airlines headquarters. We had a chance to talk with the marketing director about their upcoming Dreamliner deliveries and other destinations served by Royal Jordanian. Leaving the Royal Jordanian headquarters, we took a trip through the Suq eating green almonds, dates, and knafeh and feasting our eyes on all the other goods in the market.
After the suq, we went to Madaba and ate a delicious lunch at Haret Jdoudna. Our afternoon bus ride took us down to the shores of the Dead Sea and then to a “reception center” just outside a very small village. At the reception center we loaded up into some of Jordan’s ubiquitous Toyota Hilux pickups for a sunset ride.
After a stunning sunset, we arrived at the Feynan Ecolodge. The lodge is totally off-grid and conserves its solar produced energy by only putting electricity at the front desk, the kitchen, and a light in each bathroom. Greeted with a cool drink and a hot towel in the quiet candlelit lodge I was instantly enchanted. Our delicious dinner and stargazing with Bedouin tea only made the evening better.