Holiday: Jordan – Day 3 (18th April)

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We’re in Jordan for 10 days with great mates, Ralph & Karen. It’s Day 3 and we’re off to the World Heritage site, Petra. There’s a lot to see here, so we’ve spread it across today and tomorrow. Whether you see Petra as a ‘holy city’, an ‘architectural wonder’ or ‘just an interesting place’, it’s a must-see if you visit Jordan! πŸ‘

Yes please! πŸ‘

Our Plans

What you may have missed…

Day 2 – Kerak Castle, heading for Petra
Day 1 – Chill-out day
Day 0 – Arrival

Early Risers!

5.20am: We were up early this morning – just before 5.30am. It’s going to be a hot one here, so we’re having an early breakfast, hoping to arrive at Petra for 7.30.

6.45am: Plenty of choice for breakfast… but sadly, hardly any guests! ☹️

Petra – Part 1

7.28am: I think we were first to arrive! (actually, they open at 6am!). Eddie told us that tourism is seriously down at the moment and has been for a while. With Petra being such a massive attraction, in earlier years it would not have been unusual to see 200 coaches in the car-park – today it was closer to just TWENTY! 😬

Pre-pandemic, in terms of visitor numbers, Petra was seeing a million visitors a year, but times are really tough at the moment for Jordan’s tourist industry!

On a more positive note, there’s a fair amount to see here in Petra, and that’s why we’re back again tomorrow! There’s a lot of walking involved so bring comfy shoes! πŸ‘ – I think we walked 6 miles today.

With our tickets sorted (don’t forget passports, as you’ll need those too to actually get the tickets!), we were all set.

Eddie in full flow!

As we continued our walk, Eddie began to give us a sense of the history of the area. If you’re familiar with the backstory of Petra then skip the next paragraph, but for us it was very much “every day’s a school day”. πŸ€”

A (very) Short History of Petra

Exactly when Petra was built is shrouded in a mystery, but the best guess seems to be around 1BC. It was the capital of the Nabatean Empire who grew rich on the spice trade. The Roman Empire moved in after a fierce battle and it wasn’t until a massive earthquake and a shift in trade routes around 4BC that Petra’s fortunes were reversed. The city was eventually abandoned except for a few enterprising Bedouin tribes from the area. In 1812, a Swiss explorer (Johannes Burckhardt) rediscovered Petra buried under tons of fallen rock – and re-established the city by attracting tourists. The Nabateans were skilled in ‘managing’ the sandstone mountains and developed techniques for building into (and living in) the side of the sandstone. Much of this is still visible today, and they even mastered how to make some of their standalone buildings earthquake-proof. Not bad, given the period in question. A few people were still living in these constructions in the 1980s!

Welcome back! Is it possible to say that rock formations are beautiful? Before today, I would have probably said “no”, but I think what came next completely changed my mind! I’ll just leave these here… πŸ‘πŸ˜²

The reddish colour variations (known as ‘rose red’) and differing textures made it feel like we were on a different planet, whilst the sheer size and shape of the formations had us saying ‘Wow!’ at every turn. Add to that an innovative irrigation system, much of which survives to this day, we were immediately (and continuously) in awe of this ancient group of people – the Nabateans.

9.01am: For us, this was probably the area of Petra we were most looking forward to – The Treasury (Al Khasna). If the background looks familiar, it’s probably because you have seen it before… somewhere! Cast your mind back to 1989 and Film: Indiana Jones and Last Crusade. The final scene where our heroes on horseback ride out of shot was filmed right here! πŸ‘πŸ€”

9.33am: Our early start was paying off! It was still cool with a very gentle breeze where our biggest challenge was that we were occasionally outnumbered by goats and donkeys, eager for our attention! Still not many humans around though!

If we hadn’t been impressed enough with the rock formations, then the dwellings (and even their tombs) etched into the side of the mountains were equally jaw-dropping.

Because of the Roman occupation of Petra, recent discoveries have unearthed numerous Roman buildings in surprisingly good repair. Eddie felt sure there was plenty more yet to find, but getting the balance right between ‘over restoration’ and ‘leaving things as they are’ is a difficult balance.

10.43am: It was decision time! The temperature was hotting-up and Eddie enquired as to how many of us were wanting to attempt the next part – a somewhat difficult stage – in the shape of the walk to the Ad-Deir Monastery. It was an hour each way across somewhat rugged terrain. Ralph was up for it, whilst the girls weren’t. Helpfully, I ‘grew some’ and volunteered to look after Ann and Karen. And with Ralph disappearing into the distance doing his best impression of a mountain goat, we three headed for the Restaurant/Bar. You’ve got to play to your strengths, haven’t you??? πŸ˜€

12.28pm: Ralph returned with tales of a tricky terrain and plenty of goats! We were slightly envious (but not that much!) 😁. Thoughts turned to Lunch and luckily, we were in the right place. The Basin Restaurant had laid on a great spread. It seemed a lot for just the five of us, but then the rest of the world arrived! It all turned into a bit of a rugby-scrum getting our food (especially Dessert) but it was all very tasty especially the local sweet treat Um Ali – a sort of souped-up Bread & Butter Pudding, only sweeter and yummier! πŸ˜‹

1.35pm: With Lunch over, we considered the best way to get back to the Visitor Centre. It was now the hottest part of the day – easily low-30s – and we decided rather than reverse our walk! πŸ₯΄πŸ˜³πŸ˜¬πŸ˜₯ (eek!) we’d grab the free shuttle bus instead. On our way to the bus, our final ‘run-the gauntlet’ session with the donkey owners followed, who made one last attempt to convince us it was ‘all better by donkey sir!”, but the stench of sweaty steed convinced us that the Bus was a wiser choice! If you take the shuttle as we did, be prepared for a short detour, though! We were told we were being dropped in ‘the village’. Actually, it was nothing of the sort, and we ended up in a newish development of (ahem!) ‘shopping opportunities’ where we were left to our own devices for 10 minutes. I’m not sure that the local economy benefitted much from us and the 50 others who’d also been ‘deposited’ there. πŸ˜€

2.06pm: We were soon back at the Visitor Centre congratulating ourselves on how wise we’d been to start the day early! It was now VERY hot – a bit too much for us two. We wandered back to the Hotel and said our goodbyes to Eddie until later. Time for a short siesta! 😴😴

7.00pm: Eddie, with our Driver, took us to a local Restaurant, a short drive away, for some small nibbles. It was all delicious and they treated us too! Ralph and Karen then headed back to Petra for their ‘candlelight event’ whilst we walked back to the room to write this.

Yummy!

Tomorrow, it’s Petra – Part Two! See you then! πŸ‘

9.45pm: Nighty night!!! πŸ’€πŸ˜΄πŸ’€πŸ˜΄

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