0 In Jordan

Petra

Little Petra

After a few days in the desert, we caught a cheap bus to Wadi Musa (Petra) from Wadi Rum. The bus travels down the picturesque King’s Highway. Once in Wadi Musa we went for a coffee where we found someone to drive us out to Little Petra and then to Banda. Little Petra was deserted and there wasn’t an entry fee so we wandered around and then had the usual, tea.

The more interesting part was driving through Banda, which is the southern point of the Fertile Crescent—where it all began. We bumped along past some Bedouin camps on a seldom-used road from Little Petra to Wadi Araba. What looked like rock mounds, were in fact small buildings from the beginning of civilization. They are the remnants of early communities that, despite their importance, draw little attention in the shadow of nearby Petra. Further along the road we stopped and hiked up a sandstone edifice. We sat with our driver and looked out across the valley, where he told us in a few months the fields of barley would all be green.

Petra by Night

I once saw a photograph from Petra at night and was so mesmerized by how beautiful the candles looked against the red sandstone of the Treasury. The event takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week. We arrived on a Thursday so it would have to be the way we first saw the Treasury if we wanted to experience Petra at night.

The siq was lined with candles. We hadn’t yet seen Petra during the day so the sandstone walls were a mystery hovering over us as we navigated the dark pathway. We went late and stayed to the back of the crowds that flock to the event with their overly bright flashlights. Rounding the final corner we could see the Treasury peering through, warm from candlelight. As we were one of the last people to come in, a Bedouin man was already seated in the middle of the candles playing the oud. I was shocked to see that the massive crowd seated around him was actually silent during the entire presentation.

The siq was lined with candles. We hadn’t yet seen Petra during the day so the sandstone walls were a mystery hovering over us as we navigated the dark pathway. We went late and stayed to the back of the crowds that flock to the event with their overly bright flashlights. Rounding the final corner we could see the Treasury peering through, warm from candlelight. As we were one of the last people to come in, a Bedouin man was already seated in the middle of the candles playing the oud. I was shocked to see that the massive crowd seated around him was actually silent during the entire presentation.

I was slightly disappointed with the whole thing. I don’t know if maybe I set my expectations too high, or maybe it’s something I should have done after having already seen Petra during the day. I later realized that one of the most magical parts about Petra is the experience you have when you round the corner of the Siq and see the Treasury peaking out behind the sandstone walls. I think Petra by night should be done after having had that experience. Though I was glad I had taken someone’s advice to stay back behind all the loud obnoxiousness of the crowds so that we could experience the quietness of the Siq at night.

Petra by Day

We woke up early to get to Petra, “Rose City”, to avoid the crowds and tour buses there only to jump out and get a quick picture of the Treasury before corralling out. You know those people. The worst. Sometimes, ok a lot of times, I purposely try to get in their photographs just to make them mad.

Seeing the Siq, “The Shaft”, by day was an entirely different experience. I think I skipped the whole way down in total awe of the brilliant shades of red, pink, and orange. It’s just wild to me that Petra was established around 300 BCE but was “lost” to the western world until the 1800s.

Al Khazneh is an incredible well-preserved facade that once had a royal tomb. On the top you can see bullet holes. Some of the Bedouin men living in Petra said that it was caused by people trying to break the urn on top because they thought it was filled with treasure.


Seeing the Siq, “The Shaft”, by day was an entirely different experience. I think I skipped the whole way down in total awe of the brilliant shades of red, pink, and orange. It’s just wild to me that Petra was established around 300 BCE but was “lost” to the western world until the 1800s.

Al Khazneh is an incredible well-preserved facade that once had a royal tomb. On the top you can see bullet holes. Some of the Bedouin men living in Petra said that it was caused by people trying to break the urn on top because they thought it was filled with treasure.

Walking past the tombs we found a spot to eat lunch before starting up the 800+ stairs to the Monastery. You can pay to go up by donkey but I wanted to get the full experience and walk. Plus, tourists look ridiculous on the donkeys and I wanted to keep a bit of my dignity. 800 sweaty steps later we were at the top. The Monastery is just as big and beautiful as the Treasury. The towering building likely began as a temple. We ended the day sitting on a bench with tea, looking out at the Monastery.

Side Note: If you ever visit Wadi Musa, avoid all the tourist trap restaurants and eat at Cleopatra’s. It may look run down and you might confuse the lighting for the type of establishment that one get’s murder in BUT the owner is the nicest man of all time. You will get so much yummy yummy food for like $5.

 

Love Love.

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