I had done all the tasks I could think of, been to the internet café, caught up on my journal, lingered over dinner and chatted with other travelers while enjoying my two beers.  Exhausted from the day’s sight-seeing, I was ready to relax.  I crossed my fingers and prepared to look at my watch, hoping it would be a semi-respectable hour to go to bed.  Crap! Only seven-thirty!

There’s a lot to be said for being early to bed and early to rise. But if you’re too early to bed, then your body might want to rise at four in the morning, when there’s not a lot to do, nor light to do it in.  A single person, who doesn’t want to drink themselves into oblivion, is often at a loss for nighttime travel activities.  Here are a few strategies for filling the evening hours:

1)    First the obvious nighttime travel activities- reading, writing and ready-ing.  Reading is of course the obvious answer to the question of how to fill the evenings.  Where as in normal life, the problem is so many books so little time, traveling one often finds themselves with an abundance of time and shortage of books.  This isn’t always a bad thing.  In desperation I sometimes read books I wouldn’t typically choose, and discover that I like them.  My criteria goes from “nonfiction or historical fiction” to “written in English.” Lately, I’ve even learned to let that criteria go, realizing that if I bring a book written in Spanish (a language I will spend the rest of my life trying to master) it will last me twice as long.

Evenings provide an excellent opportunity to prepare, repair and share.  Drag out that mini-sewing kit and fix the hole in your shirt.  Get your day-pack ready for the following day. Write some postcards. Catch up on your journal.  Start sorting through those thousands of digital photos.

2)    There are a lot of challenges to maintaining a healthy level of exercise while traveling.  Sometimes you’re on a ten-day trek and you feel like a marathon runner.  But then there are those 30-hour bus rides from which it can be hard to come un-scrunched.  I carry a yoga matt strapped to the side of my pack (can also come in handy for emergency sleep situations).  If my lodging is roomy enough, private enough and the floor not too disgusting, I spread out my mat and go for it.  There is scientific research which indicates that the best time to change your habits is when you’re away from home.  So load that kick-boxing routine onto your i-pod and have at it.

3)    I like to shower in the evening.  It makes more sense. You go to bed clean, and unless you’re doing something exciting in bed (in which case you clearly do not need to be reading this article!), you wake up clean.  It feels good to remove the gunk- sunscreen, bug repellent, dust- that has piled up on my skin throughout the day.  If you’re staying in a hostel you’ll have less competition for the shower and may even increase you’re chances of having hot water.  If you’re in the hot, muggy tropics, a shower can help you cool off so you can sleep.

4)    Need some socializing, but don’t want to drink and dance all night? A simple deck of cards is a great prop.  They are cheap, easy to carry, and there are a million ways to use them.  If you sit at a café and play solitaire on an electronic device, you’ll probably remain on your own.  But if your playing with real cards other bored travelers are bound to join you for a game.

5)    Early in my traveling career a friend advised me that it was a good idea to go to movies.  Luckily for me, many movies are in English. When you get sucked into a movie, it’s like a two-hour vacation from your life.  This can be a good thing sometimes, even if you’re living the fabulous life of international travel. In Latin America, I am often able to find “Cine Clubs”, small, sometimes improvised theaters showing art films.  Once I was watching a movie in one of these theaters when a rooster wandered in!

6)     Take up a portable hobby.  I met a man in a hotel in Honduras who carried a small set of oil paints with him.  Everywhere he would go, he would scrounge a piece of wood and paint a picture on it.  Then he would take a photo of it and leave the painting as a gift to the hotel.  A friend of mine does embroidery on her travels.  When she looks at her work later it brings back the memories of all the places she was when she worked on it.

Shilin Night Market. Photo by LWY.

7)    I’ve been delighted to find that there actually are some nighttime travel activities that interest me as a tourist.  Wandering through night markets in Southeast Asia, is an absolute pleasure.  Visiting archeological sites in Central America, I learned that some will allow you to buy a ticket for the following day after 6:00 PM and enjoy the last few hours the site is open.  This allowed me to enjoy the sound and light show at Chichen Itza and the animals that came to life at twilight at Tikal.  Occasionally, if I can do so in a respectful manner and know that my presences is not displacing someone else- I will attend a local religious ceremony.  This can be quite interesting, and at very least I’ve found going to mass in Latin America to be an excellent opportunity to practice my Spanish comprehension.

Chichen Itza – Sound and Light Show. Photo by ruffin_ready.

All that being said, I still think finding nighttime travel activities can be a challenge and would love to hear other people’s suggestions…

I feel this post should have a disclaimer, so here it goes: Anything you read, see or somehow hear on this post that makes you feel I was under the influence of alcohol during these events, I have to shamefully admit I completely knew what I was doing and the dancing described below is just ‘how I do’. So with that being said, let me take you to a night scene of rocking techno music by one of the best ranked British DJs, Amman’s classiest nightclub and of course some ridiculous American dancing on my part. Enjoy!

Facebook is such a great tool when it comes to finding out what’s going on and what’s new in the area no matter where you are. So as I received the invite to go see Paul Mendez live I was pretty stoked because I didn’t think there’d be well-known international DJs performing in Jordan. I didn’t really know much about Paul Mendez at first besides the fact he was British, but the more I googled I found out he has had quite a career in the DJ business (17 years, imagine that!) and was considered the 5th best DJ in England and 25th in the World. So by now, I was pumped and just HAD to go!

I too, have a history in the night club scene, not 17 years, but I give myself props for traveling 45 min back and forth to the nearest nightclub by my hometown, dancing my ‘tail feather’ off and then going to work in the morning the next day. So things are a little different this time around but hey, it’s time to discover the hidden treasures of Amman’s nightlife and just see how it compares to the rest of the World.

Like the rest of the Arabic time schedules, everything was running pretty late. My husband and I got there around 11:30 I suppose and it wasn’t until 12:30ish that Paul Mendez began to perform. This was a little disappointing since he was supposed to begin around 10, but it gave our group a chance to talk and have some laughs before we stepped on the dance floor. That’s when things got interesting…

As the beats kept on coming and the lights bounced around the nightclub I slowly began to forget that I am in a more conservative country. With that being said, I felt the need to show off my Jersey Shore roots and fist pump through Mendez’s playlist of mainstream hits. I wish I could stop there and say that was the end of my stereotypical dance moves but oh no, there’s a WHOLE LIST of ridiculous (but I guess not embarrassing enough because I kept doing them) dance moves that I introduced to the Amman community.

‘The Robot’- yep, I went there and I failed horribly haha. My robot became an overly enthused rendition of the Tin Man, which may be perfect for Broadway but not really too great in the nightclub scene.

‘The Booty Pop’- Perhaps it’s just me but when I see those rap videos and see those girls going low and doing all kinds of crazy moves with their backside I legit believe it can’t be that hard. Once again, proven wrong in that department. I looked more like a chicken jetting off to fly than a bootylicious diva queen.

‘The Lawnmower’- I learned that night one should NEVER attempt this move when the majority of these dancers have never seen a full yard of grass, let alone a lawnmower. I executed the move to the t but that’s not really too impressive when no one had any idea what it was.

‘The Running Man’- I’m sure everyone was hoping I would really run away after all my little performances but I fooled them! Personally I think I did this move pretty good, the only problem, I did it while doing the hippie peace motions across my eyes.

I also attempted Shuffling and numerous other dance moves that should just never be talked about again. All in all I had a great time though and I’m sure everyone else did as well, laughing at me. I know I’m not the only bad dancer out there, come guys admit it, who else has had some memorable club moments? You can even say a ‘friend’ of yours did it if you don’t want to admit it was really you ;)

Disney, oh how I love you. From a fascinated child replaying Cinderella and daydreaming of meeting my own Prince Charming to a young adult captivated by the magic and majestic greatness of the Disney theme parks. All in all Disney is my secret obsession (I even have a tiara tattooed to the back of my neck mostly because of my obsession with the Disney Princesses.) and my goal is to travel to each and every location of Disney’s theme parks.  Altogether there are 5 Disney resorts around the globe (and one more coming soon!) as of now I have been to the 2 in the US. There is:

  • Disneyland Resort California, USA; Glide through the skies of the Golden State while on Soarin’ Over California or if you’re more into the horrifying Hollywood scene be prepared for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure Park. Continue throughout the resort to Disneyland Park and you will find a little bit for everyone; a mysterious Indiana Jones Adventure, an exploring out-of-this-world adventure at Space Mountain and/or some flight lessons with America’s beloved elephant on Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
  • Walt Disney World Resort– Florida, USA; Travel through and experience 11 different cultural nations within Epcot, race down one of the tallest and fastest waterslides in the World at Disney’s Blizzard Beach, be captivated by the wide range of extraordinary animals and safari attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, get a glimpse of behind-the-scene action of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and fall in love with all your favorite characters where fairytales do exist at Disney’s  Magic Kingdom Park.
  •  Disneyland Resort Paris Paris, France; Say Bonjour to all the wonder and excitement within Europe’s only Disney location. We all know It’s a Small World but on this cheerful musical tour in Fantasyland you’ll be singing and dancing along to the multinational dolls around the park, travel through space a second time on Space Mountain: Mission 2, prepare yourself for the wildest train ride on Big Thunder Mountain and ‘Ahoy Mateys!’ live out that childhood fantasy of becoming a pirate on the Pirates of the Caribbean thrill ride.
  • Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Hong Kong, China; Be a part of Andy’s toy box with Woody and Buzz in Toy Story land where you feel like the size of a toy yourself, discover the futuristic realm of out-of-this-world rollercoasters and alien friends strolling through  Tomorrowland, create your own jungle adventure in Adventureland like Tarzan and attend a magical Broadway-like performance based on “The Lion King”, visit all your favorite Disney Princesses within their castles in Fantasyland and wrap up your visit with a stroll down Main Street, U.S.A. and experience one of their exciting parades.
  • Tokyo Disney Resort– Tokyo, Japan; This is the newest Disney location and has made quite an impression already. Altogether there are seven theme parks within this Disney resort including Critter Country where you can experience the thrills of Splash Mountain, Westernland that hosts the old western feel as well as the majestic Mark Twain Riverboat,  Adventureland lets you show off your daring personality in the Jungle Cruise, meet all your favorite Disney characters and visit the magic of all that makes Disney what it is in Fantasyland, get a little crazy with Chip and Dale or be Minnie’s guest at her quaint cottage in Toontown, fast forward into a land of space adventure and aliens in Tomorrowland and get a little taste of history from around the world in World Bazaar where you can browse through the Disney Gallery or take a tour by the Omnibus.

Coming soon:  Shanghai Disney Resort!

Now perhaps visiting every Disney location isn’t on everyone’s bucket list of things to do but come on, this is the Happiest Place on Earth and it’s now available 5 different places around the globe, how cool is that?! It’s time to cater to that inner child of yours and let loose with all the excitement and magic that Disney offers to all their guests. Whoever has been to at least one of their grand resorts knows what I’m talking about, admit it you’d go again right?!

Cyprus captivates all its visitors right from the get-go with a kaleidoscopic mixture of cultures, history and beauty of all the surrounding countries it lies within. So as the unique past of the island itself is intertwined with Greek mythology, the tourist industry is right up top of the island’s economy and most vendors will more than likely cater to your photo-opt needs. So I’d say it’s time to catch up on some Greek mythology from the history channel and check out what’s there to do in ‘The island of Aphrodite’.

Getting There: Plane or Ferry – There are two international airports in Cyprus; Paphos and Larnaca as well as a variety of ferry ports that are located throughout the island. Cyprus has a little bit of everything and depending on what you are interested in doing during your stay that determines what airport you should fly to, even if you have found that it is easier to find cheap flights to Paphos than to Larnaca (I’m sure you don’t want to drive all around the island once you get there). From some countries like Turkey, Greece, Israel, etc. you also have the option of taking a ferry to different parts of the island and can find plenty of deals that way as well.

Where to Stay: Overview of Cities- If you’re planning on partying it up and toga parties are the only lessons you’ve learned from the Greeks then Ayia Napa (close to Larnaca) is the place to be. Here you will be able to find a variety of vibrant nightclubs, bars and awesome beaches. Paphos is best for the history buffs out there and here you’ll find Roman mosaics and ancient remains to fill your mind with wonder. A more modern outlook of Cyprus includes the cities Lefkosia and Lemesos and here there is plenty of hustle and bustle to keep you on your toes. For the mountain climber adventurists out there, the Troodos town of Platres offers cool mountain hide-aways but stay quite barren besides during the month of August. There are countless villages located in the hillsides that have stayed trapped in time despite the growing tourist population. If you are looking for the pre-novelty filled Cyprus, Northwest towns like Polis and Latchiare your paradise.

Troodos Mountains by Leonid Mamchenkov

Main Attractions: For Everyone In Your Group- Coral Bay beach is one of the most loved tourist beaches on the island and for good reason. For all you divers out there, this is the place to be! This is the classic ‘holiday in the sun’ type of family beach resort that offers plenty of family-oriented watersports and activities as well as plenty of places to eat and drink at the beach. Petra tou Romiou (The Rock of the Greek) is a must-see no matter the reason of your vacation. According to Greek legends this is where Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, rose from the waves and thus represents the ‘birth of Aphrodite’. Besides the historical lesson you will find at this site, the location itself is gorgeous and I bet 99% of tourist guides will have a picture of this attraction in their brochures. St Hilarion Castle is a great place to revisit all the magical romance history has to offer. The castle is situated on the top of the Kyrenia mountain range and has been very well preserved by the locals. Being a Disney-fanatic myself I found it interesting to know this was believed to be the inspiration behind Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Ayia Napa (as I mentioned briefly earlier) is great for party-goers and has become Cyprus’s modern clubbing scene since the late 70s. Here you can find plenty of restaurants, bars and fun things to do after your historical tours have bored you for too long.

      There are hundreds of other places to see and things to do in this historical yet diverse island of Cyprus. If you’re looking to travel and experience ancient ruins and unwind on a resort style beach the same day, get your fanny pack geared up for this awesome island. When you get back, make sure to tell me how it goes!