Okay, so I had another blog planned…but I went to Petra yesterday!
It took us some time to get off the ship, due to a lack of communication about passports. But, by about 11:20 we were headed out! We caught the first shuttle that took us from the port to Aqaba, Jordan (about 10 minutes away). From there, Diana had arranged a taxi for us. We met him once we got off the bus and he drove us the, almost 2 hours, to Petra. The drive itself was beautiful. Landscapes we don’t have in America. Mountains of rock, fields of sand, and goats…lots of goats. Once in the Wadi Musa, the town outside Petra, the road made circles around the valley, descending in a spiral. It was odd, but worked very well with the geography of its surroundings.
Our taxi dropped us off right at the entrance to Petra. We exchanged some money, bought tickets and water and started our adventure! There are many ways you can do this walk…you can walk the whole thing, or break it up into sections of different methods of transportation. There are horses at the start, which we chose to ride to the Siq. After that we chose to walk the rest of the way, however, there are carriages, camels, and donkeys available to get you through. We walked through the Siq, which was created by a natural splitting of the mountain. It’s cavernous and beautiful! There are remnants of the ancient civilization of Petra all throughout, in the form of stone paved roads and cutouts in the rock face for the springs.
The Siq is about 1.2km (about 3/4 of a mile). At the end of it, it narrows to pretty much a one way street before opening up to the beginning of the actual ancient city of Petra. The first thing you see in the opening is the Treasury! Not only is it fantastic to see the set behind Indiana Jones, but to stand there and think about the people that carved this building into the sandstone, into the mountain, thinking about the people that lived here and the earthquake that took it all away…it’s breathtaking!
We moved on and found the Amphitheatre! Also carved into the rock, it is the only one in the world like it! It sat about 4000 people at its peak. I would’ve loved to have seen a performance in that time. Looking around it you can see the cutouts in the rock resembling what may have been shops or homes. And suddenly I could imagine the city, bustling with day-to-day life. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling.
We then passed the Royal Tombs and continued through the city. Then we got to the stairs…
There is a Monastery at the top of the mountain overlooking Petra. In order to get to it, you need to climb up 800 steps. And these are not sane-person steps. These are 4-5 regular steps, followed by a slope with some indents, followed by 10 wide and shallow steps…etc. It was fun to see the indents in the steps indicating where most people have walked over the past 1700 years. But, oh my! I was about 71 degrees out, so perfect! I hear a lot of people saying how hot it usually gets there, but we scored a day where there was a nice breeze and it was fairly cool…until we started climbing. Diana and Shae went on ahead; they seemed a bit more used to it. I made it about half way before I needed to sit and drink some water! About 3/4 of the way up and it got really tough. Jesse and I were both flagging a bit, but we pushed through! We made it to the top and it was 100% worth it! There is a large open space that greets you at the top, and a few steps down (hooray). When you turn the corner you see the Monastery. I’m pretty sure my exact reaction was “Wow…” It was truly a sight to behold!
Then we got to go back down all those steps! Much easier climb…though a bit slicker on some of the slopes. Moving aside for goats, donkeys, and dogs also gave us a bit of a challenge. We made it to the bottom, walked back through the city and saw a few things we missed on the way up. (There are holes carved out of the side of the mountain, these are tombs, and today people who don’t have a place to sleep tend to use them as shelter). We almost got run over by some carriages, the horses tend to do what they want so it’s good to stay as close to the wall as you can. Finally we got to the end and got back in our taxi. Another 2 hours and we were back on the bus, and shortly after back on board the ship.
We were back on by about 7pm so the rest of the night was fairly short and uneventful. Diana had to work at about 8, Shae and Jesse both had 2 shows to spot and perform, respectively, I did up the schedule for the next day and walked around the ship checking lounges (yay, more walking). Then sleep.
I am oh-so-very sore today! Not as sore as I thought I’d be, but my legs and hips are NOT happy. It was an amazing experience though, and had with amazing friends. I wouldn’t have changed that for the world!
More pics are on my Facebook page, but here are a few, including the map of the distance walked yesterday…keep in mind that from the bottom of the cliff by Qasr al-Bint to the Monastery is all uphill and stairs!
Love to all!