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izkiz

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13 Days in Jordan with PADI and Aqaba Tourism

A few weeks ago I was lucky to cross another country off my bucket list. Jordan has been top of my must-visit places list for a while now. I had high expectations and let me tell you – it did not disappoint.

If I had to describe Jordan in three words, they would be: adventurous, exciting and welcoming.  After spending 13 days there I can say it’s easily one of the best places i’ve ever been. Nothing can prepare you for your first glimpse of The Treasury at Petra or the sensation of floating in the Dead Sea. Jordan is an incredibly welcoming country and everyone I met from the moment I arrived was so friendly and helpful, so I was thrilled to be invited by PADI and Aqaba Tourism and collaborate on something really cool. 

Becoming a certified PADI Open Water Diver in Aqaba, Jordan

Scuba Diving has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. When the opportunity arose for me to become a certified diver, I jumped at the chance and 2 weeks ago I packed a bag and excitedly flew to Aqaba in Jordan ready to start my Open Water Diving Course with PADI.

Situated on the coast of the Red Sea, Aqaba is Jordan’s most southerly town and the country’s only seaside resort. With over 20 sites along the coastline and a mild climate all year round, it is an ideal place to dive. Not only does it have amazing diving opportunities, crystal-clear waters, colourful marine life, coral and wrecks, Aqaba is also located near some of Jordan’s top tourist attractions such as Petra and Wadi Rum, making it a great place to visit.

The open water course consists of a mixture of book based learning and practical skills. Before I arrived in Jordan I had already read all the chapters of PADI’s Open Water Manual which teaches you the basics about diving, the equipment and how diving affects your body. I completed the quizzes and the final exam online via PADI E-learning so I could put all my energy into concentrating on the practical side of the course whilst I was in Jordan.

PADI Open Water Course is made up of:
• 5 chapters PADI Open Water Manual (learn, complete quizzes, pass an exam)
• 5 confined dives (normally in a swimming pool) where you will practice and repeat a number of scuba skills to prepare you for the open water.
• 4 open water dives (in the sea) where you will demonstrate your scuba skills in open water.

Winter in Istanbul with Hyatt hotels

Winter is a great time to visit Istanbul. It’s a city like no other, it spans two continents; Europe and Asia and has something to explore around every corner. There’s so much to do, so much to see and so much to eat and drink! We recently spent a couple of days exploring the city whilst staying at 4 different Hyatt Hotels;  Park Hyatt, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt Regency and Grand Hyatt. You can save up to 25% off this Winter at Hyatt Hotels. More details can be found here: http://bit.ly/2hsekR5

Each hotel offers something different and unique but one thing they have in common is they all have an amazing breakfast which really set me up for the day of sightseeing ahead…. 

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite things to do in Istanbul this Winter…

Last Summer getaway at Hemithea Hotel

Our last getaway trip of Summer 2017 was to luxury boutique hotel Marti Hemithea in Orhaniye, Marmaris. It’s a little piece of heaven nestled between the blue sea and the green pine tree clad mountains, 25km from the bustling resort of Marmaris.

The hotel is home to 3 restaurants, a marina, a full-service spa with Turkish bath and 2 beautiful swimming pools. 

My week in Montenegro with Go Montenegro

I didn’t know much about Montenegro before I went. It was only after I was invited to spend a week there that I really started researching the country and even then nothing would prepare me for how beautiful Montenegro is and how much I would fall in love with it.

We were lucky to spend a week there at the beginning of September with the Montenegro Tourism Board. Our adventure started off in the capital city, Podgorica, where we spent a night before jumping in a car at 6am and heading off to the mountains to go rafting.

Kotor, Montenegro

Cobblestone streets, adorable buildings with rustic facades, cute cafes with their tables spilling onto the squares, cats snoozing in shop fronts, rugged mountains looming over us from either side of the bay and the soft sound of the church bells chiming….Kotor was the biggest surprise for me on my Montenegrin adventure and I LOVED it!

Nestled at the foot of the mountains on the sea front is where you’ll find the walled Old Town of Kotor, which lies at the southern end of Boka Bay.  As soon as I stepped through the gate and looked up at the crooked clock tower, I fell in love with this beautiful coastal town which was named a cultural world heritage site in 1979 by UNESCO …

Our Lady of the Rocks, Montenegro

We enjoyed a lovely sail from Kotor to Perast with 360 Monte to Our Lady of the Rocks, a famous man-made island in Montenegro located near Perast in Boka Bay.

According to the legend, the islet was made over centuries by local seamen who kept an ancient oath after finding a painting of the Virgin Mary and Child stuck on a protruding rock on July 22, 1452. It is said that they took the painting home and overnight, one who had been crippled, was healed.

They took this as a sign and vowed to build a church on the spot.  Upon returning from each successful voyage, they laid a rock in the bay. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea. There is still a tradition alive today where every year on the 22nd of July an event called Fašinada happens. Local residents take their boats and throw rocks into the sea to secure that the island stays firm. 

Exploring Western Blacksea, Turkey

Back in July we worked on a project with TC Bakka in the Western Black Sea area of Turkey. Over the course of a week we were going to visit Safranbolu, Amasra, Zonguldak, Ereğli and a couple of places along the way!

We landed at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul and met up with our tour guides, Kafka Tur, and the minibus which would become our second home over the next week. We met the rest of the team in Beşiktaş and after a delicious lunch of kebabs and katmer, we started the 5 hour drive up to the Black Sea region of Turkey and the first stop on our itinerary – Safranbolu in the Karabük Province.