Petra

I spent 3 days and 2 nights in Petra.  It was a great place.  The the magnitude of the buildings and the size of the site was a bit overwhelming.  I certainly got a fair amount of hiking in.

The first day I arrived at about noon after a 3.5 hour bus ride from Amman.  I walked down the Siq (the narrow canyon) in relative quiet (the following days in the morning there were more people, though certainly not crowded).  The arrival at the first building is wonderful.  The Siq is about 6 feet wide and winding, you can see parts of the huge Treasury as you approach, then you enter an opening and can see the huge building carved out of the rock.  Each time I saw it I just stopped and admired it for several minutes.  In reality it was a tomb as were many of the carved buildings in Petra.  So while they are huge elaborate facades, they actually are very small inside and rather bare.

The first day I walked on from the Treasury through the valley floor.  As I looked at the high cliffs I could see endless buildings carved into the cliffs, hundreds of them.  On the valley floor was a huge city that is now of course just ruins.

I was tired from a short night and a long bus ride so I checked out the valley then headed back out of the valley.  Probably about 6 miles round trip (this place is huge).  I returned to my hotel at around 5:00.  All buildings in Jordan look old and a bit run down.  They are made of white cinder blocks.  The hotel was no different.  It is run by a lady from New Zealand that is always looking a bit frazzled.  The great thing about this place is it is up on the hill looking down over the town (Wadi Musa – Valley of Moses) and desert.  The top floor is a big room decorated like a Bedouin tent with a balcony looking over the magnificent view. I enjoyed the sunset and went down to my room for a rest.  I signed up for the dinner meal (single option served upstairs).  At 7:30 I headed up, walked in to an empty room.  I was the only guest.  I had a great meal of three salads, lentil soup, Kofta (meat balls) and rice.  It was delicious.

After a great sleep I returned to Petra in the morning.  I walked back down the Siq, enjoyed the Treasury then headed out for a new hike.  This hike climbed up a side canyon back to the top to a high altar with amazing views.  Then the hike went down the other side through many more tombs.  Like so many places once off the main road there are no people. and I mean no people.  The hike came back to the valley floor at the end of the valley.  From here I took another hike up back up to the Monestary (another tomb) that is huge and beautiful.  This hike was a bit more crowded.  At the end was a little shop selling drinks.  I had a coke and sat watching the view.  I hiked back down, up the valley, up the Siq to catch the shuttle home.  a 15 mile day.  I had the dinner again (only person) and headed to bed.

On day 3, I checked out of my motel and left my bags.  I returned for another hike.  This one up a side canyon then scrambled across the desert to a point where I could look down on the Treasury.  There was a small tent setup on the side of the cliff.  A young bedouin boy offered me tea.  I sat and watched the people below.  Again I saw no one on the hike.  I gave the boy a couple of dinar and headed back.  After seeing a few other buildings I took the final walk out the park.  It was a beautiful place.  It was hard to imagine how such massive structures could have been carved out of solid rock over 2000 years ago.

Pictures of the Treasury

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Tombs and buildings as I walked through the valley.

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The amphitheater carved out of solid rock!!

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The locals offered a variety of transportation (they’d say Taxi?), donkeys, horses and camels.

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The lounge in the motel.

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Watching the sunset

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Dinner

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with a great view

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Day two, hiking up out of the valley

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Two obelisks, not built but carved.  The information said the entire chiseled away leaving just the obelisks.

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The alter with huge views.

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More tombs on the hike down

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The monestary

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My motel

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Day three

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Looking down on the amphitheater

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The tent on the edge above the Treasury

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Looking down on the Treasury

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Back down in front of the Treasury looking up at the tent.  Look closely you can see it perched on the edge.

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I’m not in Kansas anymore

Posted from Amman, Jordan.

I flew from  Zurich to London then to Amman.  I arrived in Amman at about 9:00pm.  The airport was quiet and after just a few problems getting through immigration I was in a nice taxi headed into town to my hotel.  It was dark but I could see desert sands and signs in Arabic including one that said exit here for Iraq.  The hotel was very nice but all bags had to go through an Xray machine and I had to go through a medal detector to get inside.  I checked in and headed to bed.  My bus to Petra was scheduled for 7:30.

I grabbed breakfast and a taxi to the bus station.  I felt pretty good until the taxi driver asked if I already had my ticket to Petra.  I said no I had a reservation.  He said “no ticket?”  and shook his head.  He indicated that he didn’t think I could get on the bus.  My anxiety level increased.  When we go to the bus office he said he’d wait so he could take me back to the hotel.  But no worries, my reservation was in order, I got my ticket and went and said good by to my panic inducing taxi driver.  I sat in the bus office with the few other tourists waiting for the bus.

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Just like a Swiss bus it loaded and left on time.  The seats were unbelievably short in the leg space but luckily no one sat next to me.  After about 2 hours we had a rest stop.

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We arrive in Petra at about 11:30.  I caught a rogue taxi to the motel, the driver spent the entire trip trying to get me to commit to a  tour.  I repeatedly said no.  He seemed disappointed.  I dropped my bags and returned in the taxi to the gates of Petra.

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There were very few people.  It was a partly cloudy day and a nice wind so it was very comfortable.  The entrance starts sloping downhill.  There were many offers by young Jordanians to transport me by horse like Indian Jones to the beginning.  I passed.

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The path became narrower and the walls became higher

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This area is called the Siq and is the famous narrow entrance to the city of Petra.  There were hardly any people in the Siq so I had a nice 1 mile walk down to Petra

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Along the sides of the canyon were groves that held pipes to transport water into the city 2000 years ago.

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The Siq got narrower and higher.

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Finally the first outlines of the Treasury (the first building at the end of the Siq) came into view.

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That will be my teaser for tonight.  I’m exhausted and headed to bed.  More to come.