Due to the absolute clusterf**k that was the Nuweiba port, I arrived in Jordan later than intended. I had planned on traveling onto Petra that night, but was told that the buses don’t run that late in the day. That being the case, I asked Feargus and Nathan if they’d want to get a place to stay in Aqaba for the night, and stick together for the sake of getting a cheaper room. They were all for it, so we got a taxi from the port to the cheapest hotel in the guide book. Once our backpacks were thrown to the ground, we left to get dinner at a restaurant right below our hotel, whose food smelt fantastic. After dinner, we walked around town and ended up at a coffee shop where we watched one of the Africa Cup of Nations football games. After that, we decided it was due time to call it a night, as we were all planning on taking early morning buses to other places.
On Saturday morning, we woke up and all walked to the bus station. Feargus checked on the status of a bus to Wadi Rum, and Nathan and I found a bus headed for Petra. We went for a quick breakfast, and bid Feargus farewell. I slept for most of the two hour journey to Petra, and once there, Nathan and I got beds for the night at a place called Valentine Inn. If you’re ever in Petra and in need of a cheap place to stay, I cannot recommend this place enough. We threw our bags down, and headed for Petra. We arrived around noon, and entered the grounds. The walk through the Siq, the passage created by a shift in the Tectonic Plates that caused the mountain to split, took us about half an hour, at which point we caught our first glimpse of the Treasury, which is the best known part of Petra. We spent a while ’Oohing’ and ’Aahing’ at this truly magnificent testament to the capabilities of man, and then walked further into the remains of this ancient city. We spent five hours there total, venturing as far as the temples at the bottom of the valley. On the way down, a young Bedouin girl snared me into buying some necklaces from her; she was beautiful. She told us she went to school during the week, was twelve years old, and spoke Arabic, English and Spanish. It broke my heart to see her working, as my little sister was only a few days shy of twelve years old, and I couldn’t bear the thought of her having to work. We spoke to her for a while before heading onwards.
The whole day was magnificent, and the weather was beautiful… you’ll see for yourself in the photos below. What I found most astonishing was the enormity of the city. The tombs are countless, and the architecture seems to stretch on endlessly. What I find to be most incredible about the city, is that just about everything you see was used as a tomb, and from what I understand, the inhabitants of the city lived in tents. None of the rooms were used as functional living quarters!
By five, we were quite tired, and found our way to the entrance gate to catch the free ride back to the hotel. We showered, internetted, and then enjoyed the buffet dinner that was on offer for a mere 4 Jordanian Dinars (about $6.50). Full of good food, I settled to watch the nightly screening of ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,’ shown in every cheap hotel in town, due to the fact that the Treasury is featured in a scene near the film’s end. Once the film was over, it was time to call it a night, as Nathan and I had a second day of exploring Petra ahead of us.
On Sunday, we woke at a leisurely pace as we were in no particular hurry to get anywhere. We ate lunch, and headed back to Petra once more. We arrived around 11AM, and proceeded to spend the next six hours there. We headed immediately down to the lowest part of the valley, and then to the small and fairly uninspiring Archaeological museum, and then onto the Monastery. The climb up the Monastery took about an hour and involved over 800 tiring steps; we refused the persistent offers of mules to make the journey for us. Once up the mountain, it was clear that the climb had been worth it; the view was magnificent. The façade of the Monastery is even bigger than that of the Treasury, though less ornate; it was absolutely spectacular. From there, we climbed further, to a summit offering a view of ‘The End of the World.’ Nathan chatted with a Bedouin man who told us he had three children, though he wasn’t done yet because he wanted at least seven, but no less than fourteen! After taking in the view, we decided to head back down the mountain. Once we had finished our descent, it was time to head back to the entrance to catch the 5PM van back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel, we spent the rest of the night in a fashion almost identical to that of the night before. I showered, again enjoyed the cheap buffet dinner, chatted with friends back home, and watched Indiana Jones once more. Before the ritual showing of the film, Nathan and I walked down to the corner shop to buy drinks and snacks. In the few minutes that we had been gone, an electrical fire had started on one of the power lines, a mere 300 ft away from the hotel. As we walked back up the hill, fire trucks and police cars raced by us. Confused, we followed the sirens and flashing lights, and joined a crowd of people that had gathered to watch the fire. After gawking for a few minutes, we walked back to the hotel, and within minutes of our arrival, the power was shut off so that the firefighters could properly handle the situation. I wished I had my flashlight with me, but unfortunately, I had lost it on the journey up Mount Sinai. Luckily, within twenty minutes, the power was back on, and everyone got back to business… the movie began. We went to sleep fairly early, as Nathan and I were heading to Amman in the morning. I planned on heading from there to Jerusalem. That night it rained heavily, and I thought to myself how lucky our timing was, as Petra would be nowhere near as pleasant the next day, especially if the rain didn’t let up… which it didn’t.
I slept uneasily, worried that I wouldn’t wake to my alarm clock, and we would consequently miss the bus to Amman; per usual, I had nothing to worry about. We woke, packed our bags, and went to wait for the bus. The journey was uneventful, and I slept on and off for its duration. By 11AM, we were there. We were dropped at a bus depot, and I was informed that I wouldn’t be able to catch a bus to the border at this time, and I could either pay for a taxi, or I could wait until the next day. I decided to stick around in Amman for the night, and spent another day with Nathan. He knew a place with rooms for 5JD, so off we went. With bags deposited in the room, we walked through the city to see what it had to offer… which, honestly, is not much at all. We grabbed shwarma and cokes for lunch, paying a measly 2JD total for the both of us… though Amman was fairly unexciting, at least it was cheap. We made our way to the Roman Amphitheater, exploring that and the museum of Jordanian tradition for a while. We then wandered around town for a while; I found that I was exhausted so decided to head back to the hotel for a nap… that lasted five hours! Upon waking, we left in search of food, to discover that the heavens had opened, and the streets were flooding… the storm drains were overflowing! We went to a restaurant and ate; the meal was mediocre, but filling. We then went in search of a coffee shop, and were surprised to discover that by 9PM, the streets were dead. We found a coffee shop, and passed the time there, headed back to the hotel and went to bed.
Tuesday morning came, and Nathan and I checked out of the room, headed off in separate directions. He was leaving for Syria, to go and study Arabic for a few months, and I was heading to Jerusalem. I was picked up by a taxi driver, who then swung by another hotel to pick up a group of Polish people who I’d met the day before; he was going to drive us to the border. He drove us about halfway there, and then we changed over to another taxi that drove us the rest of the way. Only certain government licensed taxis are allowed to drive to the Jordanian-Israeli border. Once there, we had to go through the whole passport song and dance, and then we were on a bus, headed for the border into Israel.
The walk down to the Siq (the passageway leading to the famous, and best known feature of Petra, the Treasury)
Nathan and I, about to start walking through the Siq
The Siq is a natural split in the sandstone, which forms the entryway to the ancient city
The very first view of the Treasury; I gasped aloud when I saw!
The Treasury; it is staggeringly magnificent and ornate.
Me! In front of the Treasury!
An example of the elaborate detail in the facade of the Treasury
The Aneisho Tomb
A spacious cave, with a particularly beautiful entrance
Hangin’ out in a cave
A facade to one of the many burial tombs
The Corinthian Tomb
Full view of The Palace Tomb
Part of The Palace Tomb
The front of The Palace Tomb
From left to right: The Palace Tomb, The Corinthian Tomb, The Silk Tomb, and The Urn Tomb
An elephant, topping one of the columns in the Great Temple
A fallen column, in the Great Temple
More of the Great Temple
Qasr Al-Bint, or “The Castle of Pharaoh’s Daughter”
The Treasury a few hours before sunset. The colors are less vivid because it isn’t in the sunlight, but it was deserted save for the two tourist police officers.
A view of Wadi Musa, the city outside Petra, on the walk to down to the monument
It blows my mind that plant-life can grow on the side of a rock. As it’s Winter, its branches are bare; I’d love to see it in the summer.
A photo of the Treasury on Sunday morning, fairly devoid of people
A view from the journey up to the Monastery
El Dier, or The Monastery. It boasts the largest facade, and like most of the other buildings in Petra, was also built as a tomb. It wasn’t until the Christians came in 4th Century AD that it was used as a Monastery.
A view from the side. It so quickly disappears as you walk away from it. It’s quite incredible to think you could, theoretically, be so close to it and never know it was there.
“WELCOME In End Of The World”
The view at “The End of the World”
The amphitheater in Amman
Next up, stories from Jerusalem!