Jordan: An extraordinary destination

Welcome to Jordan, a fascinating gem in the Middle East that beckons with profound experiences from exploring the rose-colored city of Petra to floating in the Dead Sea to flying through the Wadi Rum desert in an open air, 4 x 4 vehicle.

From bustling cities to the quiet of Bedouin desert camp to luxury resorts, Jordan will simply surprise you with breathtaking moments and feelings of wonder.

Historic ruins, welcoming hospitality and unsurpassed luxury make Jordan an extraordinary destination.

Petra in Jordan. Mira Temkin photo

Petra in Jordan. Mira Temkin photos


Petra reveals mystery among the ruins

This UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new “Seven Wonders of the World” was once a bustling site in the crossroads of trade, built by the ancient Nabataeans.

For thousands of years, Petra remained an ancient city, unknown to the modern world. Discovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812, visitors have come from around the globe to explore its intriguing architecture.

As you begin to walk along the Siq, the main entrance to the Red City, glorious stone monuments and carvings begin to emerge. Then the gorge opens up and you are standing front and center of the Treasury, made famous by Indiana Jones in the movie, “The Last Crusade.”

Continue on your walk and palaces, tombs and waterway systems come into view, one more exquisite than the next. Along the way, there are artisans selling spices, jewelry and meticulously- crafted sand art bottles.

The truly ambitious can climb up (or take a donkey) the 800 steps to the magnificent Monastery. Don’t miss Petra at Night where the site takes on a mysterious glow by candlelight.


Discover the life of a Bedouin

For thousands of years, the wandering Bedouins have maintained their nomadic existence, living off the land in simple tents.

Visitors can share this experience by sleeping in one of their camps like the Rahayeb Desert Camp in the Wadi Desert. Choose from tents or cabins, enjoy a traditional zarb (barbecue) dinner cooked in the ground and listen to their traditional music as you drift off to sleep under the stars.

At other Bedouin camps, you’ll hear the tapping of the kettle, offering anyone near a cup of coffee or tea. You’ll find the people most welcoming.


Traveling through the Wadi Rum Desert

DH Lawrence called it “vast, echoing and God like” and the setting where David Lean filmed his award-winning film, “Lawrence of Arabia.” This is the infamous Wadi Rum desert, best seen from the perspective of a open-air, 4×4 jeep. Get an up close view of the massive “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” Lawrence wrote about in 1917.


Luxury in the Dead Sea

Luxury starts at the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea with its elegant, pure white surroundings, looking out on the Dead Sea between Jordan and Israel. Dine in one of their four exquisite restaurants and enjoy the magnificent sunsets from your terrace.

There is something quite remarkable about floating in the Dead Sea. That’s because of the water’s high salt content and the Dead Sea is the lowest point in the world. Just sit in the water and you’ll pop up on your back without any effort at all. And don’t forget to slather the nutrient-rich mud all over your body, then bake in the sun and wash it off. Your skin will feel smooth and silky.


Look out over Mount Nebo 

See beautiful old mosaics.

See beautiful old mosaics.



One of the most revered holy sites in Jordan, Mount Nebo is where Moses is buried as well as where he stood and overlooked the Holy Land. You can see the same breathtaking views across the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea to the holy cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

The hilltop church right next to it features beautiful mosaic floors.

Wherever you travel throughout the country, it’s the warm, friendly people and hospitality that make Jordan such a unique and welcoming destination.

For more information about Jordan, I gratefully acknowledge being hosted on this amazing journey by the Jordanian Tourist Board of North America.


If You Go
Fly to Amman, Jordan via Royal Jordanian Airlines that offers non-stop from many North American and Canadian cities. Also check out these places: Grand Hyatt Amman  Rahayeb Desert Camp  Marriott Petra Hotel and Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea.


Guest Travel Contributor Mira Temkin


Plan now for a Cubs spring training vacation


It’s not too early to make ticket and hotel arrangements for Cubs spring training games. The Cubs have already announced their opening games in Arizona.

Sloan Park before the crowd enters Jodie Jacobs Photo

Sloan Park before the crowd enters
Jodie Jacobs Photo

First up, they play Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Park in Phoenix Feb. 23. The rest of that weekend they are playing Texas Rangers in Sloan Park Feb. 24 and the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale Stadium, Feb. 25. The next week through March 1, the Cubs will be at home at Sloan against the Seattle Mariners Feb. 26, the Chicago White Sox, Feb. 27, Oakland Athletics Feb. 28 and Colorado Rockies Mar. 1.

Even though the tickets are not yet on sale, the Cubs have a spring training waiting list. So best chance to get what you want is to sign up at MLB Sloan Spring.

To be in the middle of the Cubs action, consider the Sheraton Mesa at Wrigleyville West that is right there, abutting Sloan Park.

However, there are several good chain hotels and resorts near all the spring training ball parks. Plus there are lots of excellent golf courses, good shopping and outstanding museums that turn a spring training visit into a vacation.

Check out Visit Mesa, Visit Phoenix and Experience Scottsdale and Sloan Park.

Related articles: Spring Training at Wrigleyville West (2016 dates but tips are still valid)



Fun Chicago ice rinks open


Work off holiday treats by ice skating. Or simply enjoy the outdoors gliding around a rink to a waltz or holiday music.  The City of Chicago, its park district and The Park at Wrigley Field have ice rinks that are fun to skate. All you need to bring are your skates or rent them there.

Skaters at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. City of Chicago photo

Skaters at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. City of Chicago photo

Millennium Park

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Look below the Bean (Cloud Gate) sculpture on the Michigan Avenue level between Washington and Madison Streets to join skaters on the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, free of charge. Ice skate rental is $12 Monday-Thursday, $14 Friday-Sunday and holidays.

Open through March 4, 2018, the rink’s regular hours: Mondays–Thursday, noon–8 p.m., Fridays, noon–10 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 11am), Saturdays (Nov. 18–Jan. 6), 10 a.m.–10 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.), Saturdays (Jan. 13–Mar. 3), 10 a.m.–9 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.) and Sundays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.)

Holiday hours: Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.), Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Dec. 26 – Dec. 30, 10 a.m.–10.p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.), New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 10.a.m.–8.p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.), New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon

Look on north side of Millennium Park at 337 E. Randolph St. to find the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon. It really curves like a ribbon. Admission is free. Skate rental and regular hours are the same as McCormick Ice Rink except Sundays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Holiday Hours: Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Christmas Day, Dec.25, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., New Year’s Eve, Dec.31, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (During the holiday break, the Skating Ribbon will be open from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, except for above dates).


Wrigley Field

The Rink at the Park

Skate in The Park at Wrigley, the public entertainment area that abuts Wrigley Field at 3637 N. Clark St. Opened Nov. 24, the 8,000 sq. foot ice rink will be open daily through Feb. 25, 2018. Entry is $5 ages 13 and older. Skate rental is $10.

If there during the holidays stop at the Christkindle Market that opened this year for the first time in the Park at Wrigley.


Chicago Park District

The park district operates several ice rinks. Its outdoor Warren Ice Rink at 6601 N. Western Ave. is already open as is the Maggie daley Skating Ribbon and the McFetridge Ice Rink which is indoors at 3843 N. California Ave.. Other rinks open in December depending on weather conditions.

Click Chicago Parks for locations and hours.


Catch sight of the Leonids meteorites


Ever since a meteorite shot overhead while on my way to a very early morning Y swim, I’ve been hooked on meteorite watching. Catching a falling star sounds romantic when it’s in a song but knowing when to watch for shooting “stars” can be exciting or even a reason to have party.

The next prominent meteor shower in 2017 is mid November when the Leonids peak after midnight between Nov. 17 and 18.

Meteor shower. (NASA photo)

Meteor shower. (NASA photo)

Where weather is not a factor, Leonids watching will be good because the moon will be in its new phase so there will be no moonlight to make them harder to see.

Of course meteorites are harder to spot in a highly lit area or where the sky glows from city lights so seek out an area near a lake, a park but for safety’s sake go in pairs.

As to where the Leonids come from, think of them as debris left from the Tempel-Tuttle comet.

You see the debris as meteorites when planet Earth’s orbit takes it through the debris. The meteor shower gets its name because they seem to come from a point in the Leo constellation.

What to expect. Look overhead but a bit towards the east. If lucky you may spot about 20 bright, fast meteorites streaking across the sky in an hour. They typically travel about 44 miles per second.

Some years have produced more but about 15 to 20 per hour is a reasonable expectation if watching after midnight when Nov. 17 has turned into Nov. 18.  I have spotted them early dawn just before sunrise in mid-November of past years. However, Earth is traveling through the Leonids most of November.

For more meteor and Leonids info check out Time and Date, Space and NASA.





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