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Jordan and the Amazing Petra…

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We left behind the beaches of Egypt and travelled to Jordan via a small sliver of Israel. We headed directly to Wadi Musa, the town outside of Petra. Petra has been on our short list of places to see for some time- maybe it was Indiana Jones or maybe it was Petra’s designation as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, but, for whatever reason, we had high expectations.

Fortunately, unlike some things in life, Petra lived up to the hype. For starters, walking into the ancient city via what is called the Siq was one of the coolest walks I’ve ever done. For about a mile, you walk through a gorge split almost perfectly by a shift in tectonic plates. At the end of the Siq you reach the infamous and beautiful Treasury building. It just comes out of nowhere and you wonder how in the world anyone rediscovered it all. I had imagined that Petra consisted of the Treasury building and a few other tombs/ruins, but the ancient city is actually huge - ¼ the size of London. Dozens of tombs and ruins are spread out over several miles. What’s most impressive about the tombs is the detailed and well preserved carving on their outsides. In contrast, the insides are just simple rooms with empty, dugout graves. We walked all around the main sites on our first day and ended the day with a walk up the mountain (800 steps) to the Monastery building which was almost as dramatic as the Treasury. We bought a two day pass, so we spent our second day in Petra doing a few of the recommended hikes in the surrounding hillsides. We even climbed up one of the rock formations and along a ridge to get a look at the Treasury from above. We left completely soaked in sweat and exhausted, but Petra was spectacular - seriously, put it on your list.
If you have any interest in taking a "walk" through the final portion of the siq to the Treasury click here
IMG_8770.jpgWalking Through the Siq
IMG_8781.jpg The famous Treasury building
IMG_8823.jpg The exterior of multiple funerary buildings
IMG_8903.jpg The Monestary building- that's actually me standing in the doorway to give some scale (it was pretty hilarious watching me try and climb up there)
IMG_9021.jpgInside one of the buildilngs- just to show you what was in there
IMG_9047.jpg A view from our climb up to see the Treasury building from above
After Petra, we visited the impressive, desert landscapes of Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum is famous because it is where TE Lawrence, a British officer, spent time living as a Bedouin while supporting the Arab Revolt during World War I. His story is the basis for the movie Lawrence of Arabia (one of Jeff’s favorite movies), which was shot in part in Wadi Rum. We took a jeep tour for several hours taking in the canyons, siqs, and sand dunes, and completed several short hikes. We spent the night at a Bedouin camp enjoying the sunset, eating a traditional meal, and doing some particularly great star gazing. The experience makes me wonder how Bedouin actually live in such a harsh environment, scorching and dry in the daytime and then freezing at night.
IMG_8705.jpg A view of Wadi Rum Desert
IMG_9058.jpgOur Bedouin host and his cute daughters
IMG_9077.jpgA view from Lawrence's spring
IMG_9096.jpg Our desert crew for the day
IMG_9115.jpg Jeff standing on the "bridge"
IMG_9138.jpg Sunset in the desert
After our desert experience, we had to camp out at our hostel outside of Petra for a few days because I had my first major illness of the trip. I had to burn off a fever and let my upset stomach work itself out while Jeff played Nurse Nancy. He even walked 40-minutes to buy me Gatorade, a luxury in this part of the world - he’s the best :)

After three days, finally healthy and fit, we returned to our travels and set off for Amman, Jordan’s capital, via the King’s Highway. The King’s Highway is very picturesque and has several worthwhile stops along the way to break up the drive. For starters, we stopped at two Crusader castles, Shobak and Karak. Shobak had an 800 step escape tunnel which you can walk in its entirety to the other side at the bottom of the mountain. Man, so again, I found myself walking down a pitch black tunnel under a mountain for enjoyment. Jeff took a slight tumble in the tunnel, like 12 steps, leaving him with a healthy rug burn on his leg – that’s going to sting in the Dead Sea. We also passed through Wadi Mujib (Jordan’s Grand Canyon) and visited Mt. Nebo. Mt. Nebo is the site where Moses led his people (after Mt. Sinai and the Ten Commandments in Egypt) and from which he pointed out the Promised Land. He then promptly died at the ripe old age of 120. There is so much history in the Middle East, it’s amazing. Our last stop before arriving in Amman was Madaba, a town known for its collection of Byzantine- era mosaics. The most famous mosaic, a map of Palestine from around 560 AD, was discovered during the rebuilding of St. George’s church in 1884. After an enjoyable but long day on the King’s Highway, we arrived at our hostel in Amman. We will write more again soon!
IMG_9175.jpg Midway down the escape tunnel
IMG_9185.jpg Shobak Castle
IMG_9232.jpg A scenic view of the King's Highway
IMG_9251.jpgThe mosiac map of Palestine in Madaba

Posted by geldere 21:58 Archived in Jordan

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