Petra, for those of you who don’t know is Jordan’s most famous landmark, one of the new 7 wonders of the world and features in the 3rd Indiana Jones movie -possibly the greatest film of all time. So it was definitely on my must see list when coming to this part of the world. The famous sight, the treasury, is actually just one part of the whole ancient city of Petra, there’s also the ruins of temples, monasteries, old roads, tombs and lots of other stuff. Its very, very old being the capital of an important area way back in the 6th century BC, so lots of things have been reduced to rubble but you can still make out the old streets and some things are remarkably still well preserved. It was discovered in 1812 by a Wwiss guy which must have been a pretty sweet find.
While you can spend up to 3 days there we just opted for one which turned out to be a good move, it all is pretty amazing but to be honest, after awhile all ruins look the same, especially in the Middle Eastern sun.
We got dropped off at the site and paid our expensive $40 entrance fee (Jordan seems to have abolished student prices since the Lonely Planet was written). To get into the city you walk for about 20minutes through this huge rock crevice where you can see all the rock patterns along the way, its very cool, and nice and cool. The rock face on either side of you goes up way high and its peaceful apart from the horse and carriages which you hire.
Eventually after what seems like ages you reach the end and see the treasury from between the rock walls, its really cool to see, and in the morning the sun is shining just on the front of it. Unlike Indiana Jones there’s nothing inside it, just a room used to store things in. By the time we arrived the crowds were building up so we took some photos and headed out into the sun to explore the rest of the site. You have to fight off camel and horse owners trying to get you to pay for a ride, of course being the stubborn travellers that we are, it didn’t matter if we are dying from heat exhaustion there is no way would pay for that!
We got to see most of the site in our one day, not everything but it was enough, there is ruins of the old theatre and this column-lined streets with steps going up to the old main temple. There are still wells and water channels in place, its really interesting and would have been amazing back in the day. We walked right up into the hills, to see the monastery, equally as impressive as the treasury, but probably less famous because its a damn hard walk in the hot sun up these steps. We finally made it and got amazing views of the surrounding area and the monastery, which is just like the treasury, a big façade carved into the rock with nothing inside.
We took some photos and headed back down for the long walk to the entrance. By this time it was around 3pm and we had been there for 6 hours, and it was hot and we were so tired we were actually forced to stop and buy coke, which I am usually morally opposed to. But coke has never really tasted so good! It was really hard walking all the way back to the entrance, I think if it had taken any longer I would have died, or been forced to take a camel.
Finally after leaving we collapsed on some steps and rehydrated with juice and water and waited for the American guys who we were sharing a taxi with. Getting back to the hotel and having a shower was awesome, me and mum both got some sort of heat rash on our legs and were pretty exhausted after a full 7 hours waking in the sun. But it was amazing and I was thankful we had a tv in our room with 300 channels and at least 4 of them in english- I watched Oprah and it was awesome. We had a really nice tea at a little place on the side on the road, yummy hummus, bread, salad and falafel. It was cool in the evening and the mosques were playing in the background, a good end to a good, but tiring day!
We had tried to find information about the bus leaving for Amman, the capital the next day, but all we could find out is that the bus leaved in the morning, when full, sometimes, maybe….hmmm, and the internet was down over the whole country so not easy to get information about what we were doing the next day but just hoped something would turn up, inshallah as they say.