jordan lpart 2l.

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on wednesday i shared with you guys the first couple days of my trip to jordan.  today i’m going to fill you on my stops in wadi musa, petra and wadi rum.

on our drive from the dead sea to wadi musa, we stopped at the baptism site of jesus christ.  we spent a couple hours on a walking tour where we took in the actual place jesus was baptized and put our feet in the river jordan.  even though i’m not particularly religious, being at the site really was something spectacular.  and i know it meant a lot to my mom to be able to be somewhere with such a biblical history!

after this short stop, we continued on.  we arrived in wadi musa during the evening and checked into our hotel (petra guest house) that was actually inside the gates of petra.  after a quick dinner (i couldn’t help put choose pizza), we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.

after waking up early and getting some breakfast, we set out for our tour around petra.  for those of you who don’t know, petra is one of jordan’s biggest tourist attractions.  this prehistoric jordanian city was “lost” to the western world for hundreds of years and it wasn’t until the early 1800s when a european traveler disguised himself in bedouin costume and infiltrated the mysterious locale.  in 2007, petra it was actually named one of the new seven wonders of the world.  (fun fact: it was also where some of indiana jones was filmed).

alright, enough with the history lesson.  after entering the gates of petra, my mom and i decided to pay a little extra for an hour long horseback ride up the back side of petra.  i’m not going to lie, although the horseback ride provided us with the most breathtaking views, riding up the side of a rock mountain feeling like you could slip off the ledge as any minute, was a little terrifying.  needless to say, we had two amazingly knowledgeable guides who made this jaunt under the blazing sun worth it.

after reaching the peak of the mountain we hopped off out horses and walked to the base of petra to take in the rest of the sights.

we took a couple hours to do the tour of petra (although it’s recommended to take a whole day), headed back to the hotel, drank about 10 bottles of water, and cooled off before meeting mr. ibrahim to start our drive to wadi rum.

we drove a couple hours, while enjoying the beautiful scenery, and finally made it to wadi rum.  wadi rum is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern jordan.  it is also the largest wadi in all of jordan.  in wadi rum we were fortunate enough to take a 4×4 jeep tour around the dessert, where we saw amazing sights, beautiful wildlife, and a plethora of bedouins.

and then we camped outside for the night.  now, i knew this was the plan all along, but it wasn’t until we arrived at the camp that i realized what this meant.  i’m not the most outdoorsy person (and have a slight phobia of anything that even resembles a bug), so sleeping in a bedouin-style camp was a bit of an adventure.
**i’m not sure how this happened, but i have no photographic proof that i actually slept in the desert, but i promise it did go down!**

we woke up pretty early the next morning and started our long drive back to the airport and on to our next stop: oman.

i have to say, jordan was tremendously different than i expected, but in a great way.  i love being able to travel somewhere where the culture is nothing like back at home and that is exactly what this middle eastern country provided.  i feel like i learned so much and found such an appreciation for a different lifestyle while taking in all the sights and cities of jordan.

although i was sad to leave after such a short, whirlwind visit, the good news was, that after 4 long days, my backpack arrived at the airport.  i could not have been more happy to finally pick up my bag and have some wonderfully clean clothes to change into for the rest of the trip!

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^^where jesus was baptized.

IMG_2797 IMG_2803 ^^soaking my feet in the river jordan. 

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^the petra guest house hotel.

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^delicious pizza in wadi musa.

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^on our way to the top of petra w/ my pregnant horse.

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^my mom walking through the hot, hot desert.

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^hanging out with a bedouin & his camels.

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^^wadi rum at sunset.

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^mr. ibrahim wrote out my name in arabic.

 

jordan lpart 1l.

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when my mom and i decided to head to jordan, i really didn’t have any idea of what it would be like.  since i was busy planning the second leg of my trip to asia, my mom took on the task of organizing our trip to the middle east.  besides looking at the itinerary i was sent, i did very little to prepare myself for what i would experience in jordan.  in a sense, though, the fact that i had no preconceived notions about the country, made it that much more exciting to experience everything.

i will get to what exactly we did in jordan, but first, i’ve got to share with you my first misadventure of the trip.  after 3 long flights and 24 hours of flying, i finally arrived in amman, jordan.  i patiently waited at the luggage carousel for my backpack…the problem was that my bag never came.  normally having no bag would be more of an annoyance than anything else, but when that bag has everything you need for the next 5 weeks, it becomes a scary thought to think that it is lost somewhere.  so, i spent the next hour trying to track down my bag.  but, going on next to no sleep, while dealing with a language barrier, the bag tracking down task was no easy feat. thankfully, i was eventually able to put in a claim for my bag and hope it would be found sooner rather than later.

anywayssssss, we can get back to the bag talk later.

my mom was lucky enough to hire an amazing driver (mr. ibrahim) for the 4 days we were in jordan.  since he lives in the capital of jordan (amman), we started off our time with a great tour of the city.  we stopped off at an old castle that overlooked the whole city.  i remember sitting at the top of a hill and thinking how vastly different the sights and culture is than here in canada.

mr. ibrahim was also nice enough to invite my mom and i to his house to meet his wife and enjoy a true jordanian tea and dinner.

after spending a couple hours in amman (and eating some amazing authentic food), we took a drive to the dead sea.  we stayed at the crowne plaza resort and spa and let me tell you, this place did not disappoint.  this was an amazing place to spend our first night in jordan.  we woke up early and spent some time lounging (or shall i say floating) in the dead sea, followed by a mud bath.  i’m not really sure what i thought the dead sea would be like…but i never imagined it would be as breathtaking as it was.  we spent the rest of the morning soaking in the sun by the 3-tiered pool before heading out to our next destination.

next stop…petra and wadi rum.

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^^hanging out at an old castle.

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^^beautiful views in amman.

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^^beautiful wooden ceiling inside an old building in amman.

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^^an old coliseum. 

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^a beautiful mosque (seen right before a soccer ball was kicked at me by a small child).

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^^i so badly wish i knew what this dessert was called or made of.  all i know is that it was AMAZING!  and i want more.

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^^hands down the best tea i’ve ever hand.  the fresh mint…mmmmm.

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^^dinner at mr. ibrahim’s.  homemade hummus and falafels.  

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^^crowne plaza…simply breathtaking.

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IMG_2775^^enjoying my early morning float in the dead sea.

oh hey, toronto.

12 flights, 3 countries, and 9 crazy days later, i’m back!

as i mentioned here and here, i was ever so excited to be embarking on a 5 week journey on the other side of the world.  well, like a lot of things, this trip didn’t quite go as planned.

a couple days prior to leaving for my trip, i had to do some last minute re-arranging due to visa issues and would be spending 5 days in bangkok before heading off to cambodia.  well, pretty much as soon as i arrived in jordan, i got word that martial law had been declared in thailand.  and as the week progressed, so did the events in thailand.  more protests and demonstrations continued, and then the curfew was imposed on bangkok.

even though i had been dreaming of visiting thailand for years, heading to thailand by myself just didn’t seem like the safest idea.  so, instead of gallivanting across the world, here i am, back in toronto.  although i’m disappointed that i did not get to see what south east asia has to offer, i still had an amazing week in the middle east with my mom.

i’m slowly easing my way out of this jet lag fog and back to my normal life.  over the next week, i can’t wait to share all the adventures (and misadventures) that i experienced in jordan and oman.

thailand, it was unfortunate timing, but i’ll be seeing you eventually.

 

see ya toronto.

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today is the day.  i’m finally off on my trip.

after a hectic couple of weeks (and especially crazy last couple of days), i’m so excited to finally start this adventure.  i’m so excited to be jetting out of toronto embark on what i’m sure will be an amazingly fun 5 weeks.

although i won’t be blogging the entire time i’m there, i hope to post a couple times throughout the month i’m away to keep you all updated!

have a safe & happy month, all!!!

xo

 

friends forever.

everyone has those friends.  you know, those friendships you’ve had forever.  the type of relationship where you may not talk every day or see each other for weeks, but when you are together, you pick up exactly where you left off.

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^
^ ❤ these girls.

this weekend, i was so happy to celebrate one of my bff’s birthdays.  the weekend’s bday festivities reminded me how lucky i am to have such a great group of friends who i can always count to have a ridiculously fun time.

2014-05-10 15.54.38  ^^naturally a jay’s game was part of the afternoon bday festivities.

now that everyone is growing up, everyone has their own lives and responsibilities and unfortunately that means it gets harder and harder to find time for everyone to get together.  the good part is that these girls know me better than anyone and that no matter how busy we get, i know they will always be a big part of my life.

we all attended different universities, lived on various continents for the past couple years, and now have crazy busy lives, but through it all, we’ve maintained that kind of priceless friendship that you can only hope to have.

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IMG_7180 ^^fun up north this winter!!

we’ve been through so many ups & downs, big milestones, and really grown up together.  i’m so thankful for all the early mornings, late nights, shameless tears, huge smiles, and endless laughs we shared throughout the years. i can hardly wait to see what kind of crazy we will go through together in the coming years!

 

trip time.

ever since finishing university a couple years ago, i’ve watched friends embark on these amazing trips around the world.

i took a different path and focused on figure skating, work, and going back to school.  needless to say, i’ve always been more than a little envious hearing about these amazing adventures my friends were having.

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^skating took over my life for a while, but i wouldn’t trade those memories for anything!

finally, i’m more than happy to say, that i’m now going to be the one gallivanting across the globe…if only for a month.

with my mom living in the middle east until the end of june, i decided it would be nice to pay her a visit over there.  we already conquered qatar, dubai and abu dhabi two years ago (pics below), so this time, we settled on visiting jordan and oman.

IMG_2202^^dubai by boat.

IMG_2273^^my last night in doha.

 

after what i’m sure will be a surreal 5 days with my mom in the middle east, i’m going to head off on my own to south east asia.

starting off in northern thailand, i’m going to spend some time making my way to bangkok and then off to cambodia and vietnam.

i’ve been to europe a handful of times, but never backpacked, so i’m both terrified and excited about the thought of being on my own in a completely different environment than i’m used to.

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^
^had some down time off of skating while we in scotland.  downtown edinburgh was amazing!

it’s funny though, when i tell my friends and family about my travels, none of them seem to be too concerned about my safety (thanks guys!), but rather what i’m going to eat.  everyone knows by now that i am the world’s pickiest eater, so naturally the food issue is a big concern for me…do you guys think they have cheese and crackers over there?  but, let’s be real for a second, my biggest concern right now is, how in the heck am i going to pack for a month…in one backpack???

in all seriousness, i’ve always been very focused on building my life in toronto and for once i’m taking some time out to do something just for me.  i’m so excited to step out of my comfort zone and just see what else is out there!

see you soon, world!

hot docs.

so if you’ve never heard of hot docs, you need to change that.

when i tell people about hot docs, the conversation usually go like this:

“i’m so excited about hot docs!!”
“hot dogs?”
“nooo, hot docs, you know…docs…?”
“dogs?”
…oh, forget it.

hot docs is a canadian documentary film festival that runs for two weeks in toronto at the end of april.  the festival pulls 180 amazing docs from all over the world and screens them at a dozen theatres across the city.

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anyone who knows me, knows that my movie taste is pretty abysmal.  let’s just say, if it doesn’t have kate hudson, poor acting, or a predictably happy ending, i probably haven’t seen it.  but, a couple years ago, i came across this truly amazing documentary called ‘the cove’ (all about dolphin poaching in japan).  this film opened my eyes to the doc world that i’d been missing out on for so long.  since then, i’ve become totally obsessed with docs like blackfish, after tiller, and the tillman story.

when hot docs came around this year, i knew i had to go to a screening.  after hearing great things, my friends and i decided on ‘meet the patels.’  this movie, which was all about an indian-american who enters a love triangle between the woman of his dreams…and his family, who is pushing for an arranged marriage.

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after seeing the screening this past thursday, i can say it certainly didn’t disappoint;  it was the perfect mix of hilarious and touching.  and one of the best parts was that the film makers attended the screening and spoke to the audience after.
unfortunately hot docs came to an end yesterday, but after this amazing viewing, i can’t wait to discover new documentaries when it comes back next year!!

happy monday!

“no good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” -robert ebert

 

 

a quick trip.

today i’m writing to you today from the airport in columbus.

a couple years ago my sister and her husband sadly moved away to ohio.  having only one sister and growing up in a tight knit family, it was tough to see her make the move and with the 7 hour drive from toronto to columbus, we don’t get to see her nearly as much as we’d like.

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^weren’t we just the cutest of sisters? haha

i’ve made the trip to columbus a couple times and always managed to have an amazing time, but since i only had a super short visit with her last weekend (which i blogged about here), my mom, my cousin and i booked a last minute flight to pay her a visit.

bekshooting^^crossed this off my bucket list during my visit to columbus last summer.

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^during my christmas visit, we took in some columbus/pittsburgh action at the rink.

we flew out of yyz bright and early yesterday morning on a teeny tiny prop plane (where i saw my life flash before my eyes, as we teetered into the sky)  and spent the day getting some quality power shopping in.  thanks to my favourite brother-in-law, we also took in the columbus vs. pittsburgh hockey game at night.

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^taking in game 4 & an amazing w for a deserving team!! go cbj!

my sister and her husband live in a beautiful little community that is literally straight out of a fairytale.  the streets are lined with white picket fences and blooming trees.  there are walking paths throughout.  a large mailbox houses a community library.  all you need are rainbows and lollipops and you’d think you were living in a dream.  i’m lucky to have had an hour to enjoy the sunny skies on a walk around the neighbourhood.

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^^a communal library for the neighbourhood.   shouldn’t every community have this??

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^could this place be any cuter?

after laying my head down to sleep for a couple hours last night, it was time to head back to toronto and back to reality.

although it was much too short of a trip, i’m so happy to have spent some time at my sister’s…and getting some much needed shopping in didn’t hurt either!

columbus, you’re always good to me –’til next time!

don’t forget to follow me on twitter & instagram@thefitpalette.

“family:  where life begins and love never ends.” -unknown

 

easter.

today is good friday.

religiously, it is a day for christians to be thankful for jesus christ’s sacrificies, but for most of the world, it means a day off work and a long weekend!!!

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typically this is what i love about easter:
-warmer weather
-spending time with family
-lots and lots of chocolate

but…this year the weather is colder than ever, i am missing out on family time due to work commitments, and i am no longer eating chocolate.

so, yaaaa.  not quite the easter i usually look forward to.

in all actuality, though, i’m still happy to see easter come around.  i’m excited to take advantage of the couple hours i will have with my family and all the amazing food i’m sure to devour in that time.

happy easter everyone and remember everything you have to be thankful for!

don’t forget to follow me on twitter & instagram: @thefitpalette

“easter is the only time of year it is good to put all your eggs in one basket.” -unknown

 

 

lent.

40 days.

that’s how long it’s been since i made the crazy decision to give up both chocolate and chips.

as i mentioned here, this year for lent, i gave up my most beloved treats.  lent, which began on march 5, finally comes to an end today.  i remember that first day of lent, thinking that i would never make it the full 40 days, but surprisingly, it hasn’t been nearly as hard as i imagined.

i am certainly not a nutritious eater by nature, so healthy eating is a conscious effort for me .  i never really thought my sweet tooth was a problem… until i picked up peanut m&m’s instead of peanut butter m&m’s at bulk barn.  talk about devastation! this awful rookie mistake had in a puddle of tears on my bedroom floor.

yes, sadly this is a true story.  and no, i wasn’t 12.  this was last year.

2013-04-11 20.47.13^^the cause of my meltdown.  just wanted some peanut butter m&m’s while studying.

now, i’m not particularly religious, but i love a good challenge, so when lent came around this year, i knew it would be the ultimate test to kick my sweet tooth to the curb.

there were definitely times throughout the 40 days when i wanted to cave, but instead of turning to unhealthy food when i needed a quick snack, i made the conscious decision to make better choices.  to help kick my sweet and savoury cravings, i added lots of fruit, smoothies, yogurt, and lightly salted almonds to my diet.

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^^ smoothie preparations & yogurt, fruit and oats.

it’s said to take 21 days to break a habit and i’m happy to say, after 40 days, i feel like that’s true.  i’ve got to say, i’m pretty happy about my accomplishment and since i’ve pretty much kicked my cravings, i’ve decided to extend this challenge all the way to the end of summer.

it could be a long 4 and a half months to come, but as this saying goes…

strawbs

 

don’t forget to follow me on twitter & instagram: @thefitpalette.