Feeling like Indiana Jones in Petra
If anyone has ever seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he is on a quest to find the Holy Grail and rides his horse through a narrow red rock valley and ends up in front of a huge temple cut out of rock. Well guess what – that scene takes place in Petra, Jordan.
Scott and I didn’t visit Petra for that reason. Petra is considered a must see in Jordan because it is a city that was literally carved out of rock. This full-fledged city had a water aqueduct system, theatre, monastery, streets and royal tombs. Oh yes, and it was built sometime as early as around 300BC. So it really is a testament of one the most intellectual ancient Arab tribes that ever existed, the Nabataeans.
But that didn’t prevent me from singing the Indiana Jones theme song all day long! Poor Scott.
Petra is a 3 hour drive from Amman. So, most tourists will take an exhausting 12 hour day roundtrip tour instead of staying overnight in the nearby city, Wadi Musa. We chose to stay in Wadi Musa so that we could enjoy Petra in the early morning – before the unbearable heat and tourist groups arrived.
Instead of shooting down the main expressway, we also chose an alternative route – a 6 hour scenic ride down the Old Kings Highway. This highway was actually the most important spice trade route in the middle east, spanning from Egypt (through Jordan) to Syria. The route is 5000 years old but now is nicely paved. Scott and I are proud to say that we travelled down the oldest road in history =)
I took this picture from Kerak castle, one of the largest crusader castles in Jordan. The castle was built in the 1100’s and was pretty fun to explore. We had a great tour guide, he drew maps in the sand and made us take corny photos
We also stopped in the city of Madaba, containing the largest Christian population in Jordan. There was a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church that contained the most beautiful floor mosaic. The floor mosaic is the oldest living map of the holy land.
We shared a van with two couples, one from Australia and one from Great Britain. It turns out that both couples were doing the same thing as us! They planned on traveling for almost one year around the world. They were a lot of fun to travel with and here is a photo of us all eatiıng lunch at a local falafel shop. Apparently the building used to be an old school or something. The owner took this fuzzy photo of all of us.
The next morning we were ready for Petra and met our new friends at the entrance around 7:30am and we immediately started a tour. Our tour guide actually was a former archeologist turned tour guide. Even though he was of Nabataean descent and highly educated, they only excavate in Petra two months out of the year so he saw a larger financial benefit in being a tour guide. That is the case for most archeologists in Petra which is quite sad to hear. But good for us because we had so many questions. This place just seem out of this world…
We first walked through a long and windy rose valley that winded down for 1km. It was a very cool walk.
Now this thing is called the Treasury, but wasn’t actually used as a bank. In fact it was empty most of the time inside. It was really just created to give visitors an impactful first impression of the city and the Nabataean people. I would say they accomplished that goal.
Can you believe the symmetry of this considering it was all carved out of a large rock wall? Oh yeah, and there has been only a tiny bit of restoration work done to this because the Nabataeans carved it in a location and way that sandstorms and rainstorms do not damage the treasury. So this really is still well preserved after 2200 years. Amazing
Just kidding! Obama visited about two weeks before us. Imagine the Secret Service all over this place!
We only saw one guy on the trail the entire time all the way at the top and he was nice enough to take a photo of us.
Scott then stole a photo of him
He also wished his dad and stepmom happy birthdays which were a day apart from one another.
Scott made a friend
We came across this very cool temple.
While I read the sign about it, I looked up and…Where’s Scott?
Oh. Yup. Just look closer. There he is.
Lastly, we hiked up to a monastery. By this time we had been hiking/walking for over 7 hours in the heat and I was exhausted. I stopped halfway through the steep trail while Scott continued on.
From the top.
Meanwhile, I did some people/donkey watching. I caught this little treasure that I now watch anytime I want to have a good laugh. Make sure your volume is up:
good laugh in Petra
It was an exhausting 10+ hours but exploring Petra was one of our most memorable days so far. The only issue we had was the cost of the entry fee. It will cost you about 75 US Dollars to visit Petra for one day. Angkor Wat was 40 US Dollars for 3 days, but you saw the money going towards preservation and restoration of the temples. Here, we are not sure where the money is goıng because the city does not need to be preserved (at least not Luke Angkor What) and excavations only occur two months out of the year. They offer free horse rides, but you have to tip the workers about 10-20 US dollars per horse so we are not sure they even get a cut of the admission fee. Well, we just hope the money is going towards something good for this amazing country.