Petra - City of Stone

Trip Start Mar 23, 2010
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Trip End Feb 15, 2011


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Where I stayed
Le Vendome Hotel, Amman

Flag of Jordan  ,
Friday, November 19, 2010

Sam: We arrived in Amman, Jordan at about 8:30pm on Thursday and, after a rather hairy taxi ride, one hour later, we made it to the hotel. Given that we only had 1 days here, our first priority was to book a day trip to Petra for the next day. “This won’t be an issue,” we thought. Over 5,000 people visit this place every day. We’ll just let the people in our hotel know what we want to do and then we’ll choose from one of the many tour packages on offer. Wrong! Instead, the guy at reception offers for his “friend” to drive us there, for around $150 AUD. Mmm, I don’t think so. After about an hour on the net, we found what looked like a much more viable option. So, we set the alarm for 5:30am, got a few hours sleep, caught a taxi to the local bus station and began the three and a half hour journey to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The drive out through the desert was pretty cool, and when we finally arrived, we weren’t disappointed. Petra is a vast city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, the industrious Arab people who settled here more than 2,000 years ago and turned it into an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. Even though it originates BC, the western world only discovered it for the first time in the 1800s! Hidden all that time...

Most of the guides for this area say you need up to 4 or 5 days to fully explore Petra, but we decided to do as much as possible in the 6 hours we had available. We walked and walked and walked. (Lee: In the last blog I said that cities don't hold much magic for me. But this was a city carved entirely out of the cliffs. It was truly awe-inspiring. My head was spinning like a top. I kept thinking "How did they do that over 2,000 years ago when I doubt we could recreate it today with all our technology?") 

Then, upon discovering that the Monastery (a site we really wanted to see) was over 1,200 steps up and over a mountain, Lee decided it was time to invest in some transport. After some haggling (Lee: I got ripped - worst haggler ever!), he walked away with two donkeys! My donkey’s name was Monica, looked more like a horse than a donkey and was still being broken in. Lee’s donkey was hilarious, it was more like the size of a large dog than a donkey – he looked so out of proportion! (Lee: I still want to know why I got the smaller donkey.) Anyway, I’m happy to say the donkeys got us up to the Monastery safe and sound (even though it was a little sketchy in some places on the narrow, winding stone steps). It was so much fun, I don’t think I stopped smiling for the entire ride.

After a late drive back to our hotel, we decided our legs could only carry us about 50 metres more before they would entirely collapse. Given that we didn’t have our donkeys with us anymore, this left us with Pizza Hut as the only option for dinner. BIG MISTAKE. Let’s just say we have developed a really close relationship with the bathroom over the last 24 hours, and today, rather than seeing the rest of the city, we have seen our hotel! In a few hours, at 1:00am tonight, we board a Royal Jordanian flight to Hong Kong for a very brief stopover before travelling to Vietnam. Given our condition, it should be an interesting 12 hour flight! 

(Lee: A few hours ago I was thinking that nothing could be worth the pain of seven hours on a bus and then food poisoning, but now that I'm getting a bit better I can say that Petra was worth it. Totally. Double thumbs up! Check the pics!)
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Comments

Dad on

Thank goodness for the Dash hound donkey that you ate at Pizza Hut after the ride and not before. Still I suppose the donkey was brown to start off with anyway.
Petra looks fantastic. Must add it to my bucket list.
Enjoy Vietnam
Love Dad and Rob

Mum and Steve on

This truly looks like somewhere we would love to experience - perhaps its time to start another list of things to do before I die!

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