Our day in Jordan started like any other – With a scam. I had decided we would head to the Citadel and mooch up there for the morning. It was about 8.30am and finding the bus was a nightmare, everyone was trying to scam us left, right and centre. I almost gave up but a guy came over and asked if we needed help. I told him how pissed off we were with Jordan and how I had just had enough of it. He was saying how not everyone is like that, he apologised and shook my hand apologetically asking me not to lose faith. I told him he was the first Jordanian that hadn’t tried to rip us off in some way. He introduced himself as Ahmed, which translated to English means ‘I am a dodgy bastard and am going to cream you for every penny I can’ But first impressions were sound.
When the bus finally came I watched everyone (including Ahmed) pay 1JD. When the guy came to get our money I couldn’t understand him so I asked Ahmed how much he paid, he said he didn’t know. How can you not know I asked, the conductor said something to him and Ahmed said “5JD per person” I told him what a bastard he was and that he was no different from anyone else in Jordan and that is why I despise the country so much. He just looked sheepish and was doing that snigger we have come so used to in Jordan. I told the driver to stop and we got off the bus. I was going mad at the people on the bus and had finally had enough. Jordan had finally broken me.
I decided we would just go back to the hotel and spend the day watching movies. At the hotel I was talking to the owner (John, a guy from New Zealand but now a Jordanian citizen) I was telling him how we felt about the country and he said that he doesn’t know many people who leave Jordan having enjoyed it. He said my story is a common one. He was leaving for Aqaba which is at the far South of Jordan and asked if we wanted to go with him. I said thanks but there was nothing for us down there. He reminded us that Petra was en route and if we wanted he would drop us there. I moaned about the ticket price and that I refused to pay almost fifty quid to get in. He said he would get a ticket for us and we could use that. If it worked then great, if not then we could just stay in Wadi Musa for the night and then head to Israel the next day using the Aqaba border crossing to Eilat in Southern Israel. With nothing to lose and a sure fire way out of Amman we hopped into his Porsche Cayenne and before long Amman was a distant memory as we headed South down the Desert Highway.
The distance is about 230km and the desert highway is just that – A highway through the desert – Desolate, boring and nothing to see.
A couple of hours later we pulled into the sleepy desert town of Wadi Musa which is where people going to Petra stay. John had recommended a hotel and got us a room there for 25JD, we ditched our bags and headed to Petra. By now he was in a bit of a rush and so left us with a ticket that cost 1JD (as oppose to 50JD) We said our goodbyes and he refused to take petrol money from us, all he asked was that we recommend his hotel ‘Palace Hotel – Amman’
Petra is a city over two thousand years old carved into the rocks and spanning an area that takes days, if not weeks to fully explore. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and also listed as one of the ‘places to see before you die’ by the BBC, National Geographic channel and Discovery. In any sense of the word it is widely recognised as being one of the most amazing places on earth.
As we got waved past the entrance I was stunned and ecstatic that we had got in. I was overwhelmed and we quickly began our descent down the sandy path toward the entrance of the Siq. The Siq is a narrow gorge that goes for about a Kilometre before opening up to the Treasury and not only the symbol of Jordan but one of the most recognisable and widely acclaimed buildings from the ancient world.
Now, many people have tried to document the beauty of Petra, many words have been written since its discovery in 1812 and it is widely accepted that none have done Petra justice. No author has captured the sheer enigmatic beauty of this amazing place and for that very reason I am not even going to bother. I simply do not have the vocabulary required to convey just how amazing Petra is to the reader. Anything I write would do it a huge injustice and sell it far shorter than I intended. In short, what I am trying to say is that Petra is so amazing I just cannot put it into words and so I’m not even going to embarrass myself trying.
The kids absolutely loved exploring the many places along the walk to the Monastery which is up about 800 steps. Charlie was excited that Indiana Jones was filmed here and considered himself to be the new Indy.
We met Bedouin people and drank tea over camp fires and stunning scenery. We felt a real part of the world we were in which Abi said was “like a dream” It really was surreal. Like nothing we have ever known – Unforgettable.
There is a lot of walking involved and we were in the site around eight hours, we walked around ten miles and loved every minute of it. I have been fortunate enough to see some of the best things the world offers, I have flown over the Grand Canyon in a tin pot airplane, seen the Pyramids, Climbed the Great wall of China, been to Rome many times, seen the Hagias Sofia, Taj Mahal, all of the world’s great buildings in the US, Chitchen Itza, seen the Northern Lights and stood in awe at some of the tallest mountains in the world, Halong Bay, the Giants Causeway and that is just what I can think off the top of my head.
Petra blows every single one of those away. I am being completely genuine Petra completely blew us away and left us dumbstruck. It is undoubtedly one the best places we have ever been on earth and in turn it gave us one of the best days we have ever had whilst travelling.
I tried to find some words written by someone that perfectly portrayed Petra and I couldn’t find anything that I felt described it as it should have been. I did however find a quite touching poem written by J.W Burgon in 1845 called ‘Petra’ Though he had never seen the place he envisaged it perfectly from what he had been told about it. Using his imagination he could never have known just how right he had got it. Just how perfectly he described Petra.
It seems no work of Man’s creative hand, By labor wrought as wavering fancy planned; But from the rock as if by magic grown, Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone! Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine, Where erst Athena held her rites divine; Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane, That crowns the hill and consecrates the plain; But rose-red as if the blush of dawn, That first beheld them were not yet withdrawn; The hues of youth upon a brow of woe, Which Man deemed old two thousand years ago. Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime, A rose-red city half as old as time.