South of Jordan Trip- Part 2 (belated, sorry)
Trip Start Jun 28, 2008
12Trip End Aug 15, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
After we got on the bus in Wadi Rum, we drove through the hot desert to Petra, a few hours away through the desert hills. Around mid-day, we made it to our hotel, which was the five-star Taybet Zaman, which is one of the most unique and classiest hotels in the country. It's located in an ancient Ummayad village, where all of the rooms are little villas located along beautiful stone lanes. There was a little souk, or market, and a fabulous pool and views of the surrounding areas. My roommates were Stephanie and Alissa, and we had a gorgeous room and comfy beds. After cleaning up, we all went out and drove to a place called "Little Petra"
After leaving the ancient valley, we stopped for falafel sandwiches and took our picnic dinner up to a tall mountain summit, where we watched the sunset over the hills around Petra. It was incredible, and we all had fun dancing on the mountain top as the sunset behind the rocks. That night, we went back to the hotel, and went swimming under the stars in the hotel's classy pool. Just when I thought we wouldn't see more shooting stars, we did again at the hotel. It was amazing to be swimming in the cool water under the bright night sky, with the calls to prayer from the various mosques in the area bouncing off the nearby hills. We played our own version of Marco Polo in the pool (named "Abu Ali), and had fun swimming around in the dark
We had to wake up very early the next morning, around 6 am, so that we could go to the real Petra when it was a little cooler. We ate the most amazing continental breakfast I've ever had in the hotel's incredible ancient restaurant, where we pigged-out on olives, bread, hummus, jam, cheese, and fruit salad. It was wooooonderful haha. Around 7:15 am, we left for Petra, and even that early, it was already really busy. It was funny to see the cheesy gift shops selling "Indiana Jones" paraphernalia (the Last Crusade movie takes place in Petra at the end, when he finds the Holy Grail). J The walk through Petra was very long, so we were thankful we were there early and the sun wasn't too bad. After waking along a long road, we made it the Siq, or the ancient entryway to Petra. It's a narrow gorge carved by flash floods, and it was how the ancient Nabateans entered their stone city. The colors and rock formations in the Siq were incredible; I've never seen anything like it in my life! It was so beautiful and cool, so we walked slowly to take everything in. Then, after around 1 km of walking, around a bend in the gorge, we suddenly came upon the famous Treasury. It was magnificent, and was certainly awe-inspiring on first glance. When we made it out of the Siq, we were able to explore the Treasury's inside (nothing like Indiana Jones haha), and suddenly we came upon even more of the city. Over the course of a few hours, we saw countless carvings in the stone, all of which, except for one, weren't free standing, but nestled in the sandstone hills. They were so well preserved! We walked around, looking at the beautiful colors and carvings, and chatted in Arabic with the local Bedouins selling crafts to tourists
On we hiked to the Monastery, which turned out to be about a 1 km hike up more than 850 stone steps. It was exhausting, and because we didn't have much time, we had to do it very quickly in the hot sun. As we climbed higher and higher the views got more spectacular, and while some tourists took donkeys to the top, we were determined to walk it all. After a little over an hour (very good time, apparently), we reached the top and saw the massive Monastery, which was completely worth the hike. The carved fašade was incredible, and we climbed into it to look around. We only got about 15 minutes to enjoy the view before we had to turn around, because our bus was leaving in an hour, and normally it takes almost two to get back to the entrance from where we were. Eeeek! So, in different groups, all of us basically sprinted down the mountain. Alissa, who is a cross country runner, and I , went down together, and I'm glad I had her with me because she pushed me along when I felt too tired to keep going. We power walked past all of the sites we had passed before, and when we were offered donkeys from the men renting them out (since we must've looked like we were dying), we said no, we had just walked from the Monastery, or "al Deyr" in Arabic. Every one of the natives was very impressed, and we felt really proud of ourselves
In the morning, after a light, traditional breakfast, we has a class in the "bayet shar", and talked in Arabic about our trip. Soon after, though, we headed back up the mountain (via cattle car), and continued our journey. It was sad to leave such a peaceful place, but it was getting hot, so it was nice to be in the air conditioned bus
We were supposed to head right back to Amman, but the students talked about it, and we were close to a famous castle called Karak (which is in the movie Kingdom of Heaven), and we asked the teachers if we could stop there for an hour to explore and eat lunch. Surprisingly, they agreed to it! So we got to see this amazingly preserved Crusader castle, and we got lost in its many dark passageways and rooms. It was so neat! We saw an ancient kitchen with ancient sinks, and saw some very old churches nestled within the castles walls. It was incredible! We could really sense what life was like for a Crusader living in the castle.
Yet again, though, we had to leave, and this time back to Amman. We all fell asleep on the bus, and then again when we made it back to our houses. It was one of the most incredible trips of my life, and I had some of the greatest adventures ever. I really hope that someday I can bring all of you to Jordan, because seeing such beauty made me really fall in love with this country.
I hope you're all doing well. I know I'm about a week behind on my blogs, but maybe tomorrow I can post an update about what happened in the last week. Right now, though, I have to go study some Arabic grammar. Please be well! I can't wait to see you all soon when I'm back in the states! (In less than a week!)
With lots of love from Amman,