North of Wadi Rum is Petra, the most magnificent place I have ever been. We stayed the night in Wadi Musa (near Petra) in order to have a full day to explore the ancient city. I was brimming with anticipation as I looked outside the window of our hotel room.
The ancient city was built by the Nabateans thousands of years ago, and today is deservedly named one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The carved rock facades is what attracts tourists, myself included. Before we started the day S decided to purchase a Bedouin head scarf to combat the sun, and thankfully the salesman wrapped it for him. Between the facial scruff and new accessory he was really starting to blend in.
To enter Petra we had to first walk through the Siq. The Siq is a winding path flanked by tall rocks and it serves as the entrance. It was surreal to make our way through the canyon-like place, spotting caves and small rock carvings along the way.
As we neared the end of the Siq a portion of the Treasury became exposed. The initial glimpse was enough to shock me, and I was completely struck by its magnitude. The Treasury is not your average tourist sight, and standing face-to-face with it made me feel like I was majorly peaking.
The Treasury in all its glory…
Perhaps you recognize the Treasury from Indiana Jones? I fell asleep before I had the chance to see it appear at the end of the movie! I can’t seem to make it to the end of any movie without falling asleep.
I asked a young girl to take our photo posted below, and she was the best! She took about 50 shots and even directed us on how to be positioned. I have learned to ask teenage girls who look like aspiring Instagram models to take our photo because they seem to know what they’re doing. I never, EVER ask men who look like husbands because they often appear burnt out and generally lack enthusiasm. I might be projecting here since my husband often snaps two photos maximum at a time, both of which will showcase my worst angles.
Camels and donkeys are all over Petra, and if you are tired of walking they are an alternative mode of transportation.
I typically don’t buy souvenirs of any sort, especially on this trip (we don’t have room in our luggage). Photos and now this blog are my favorite souvenirs, and they don’t take up any space! That being said, something about the sign for a book titled Married to a Bedouin captured my attention and before I knew it I was paying $23 for a book that sells for $11 on Amazon. The woman pictured below, Marguerite, traveled from New Zealand to Petra in the 70s and met a Bedouin who was selling souvenirs near the Treasury (if you remember from my previous post Bedouins are nomadic people who live in the desert). He was a local living in a nearby cave and she ended up marrying him. *It’s important to note the Bedouin were living in the caves of Petra up until the city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 80s, so not very long ago!* Marguerite moved into the cave with her new husband which did not have electricity or running water, and overall they had very limited resources. The only part of her experience I envy is when she describes falling asleep on the ledge of her cave underneath the stars. She has a fascinating and compelling story but she isn’t the best writer, which made her book a letdown for me. I so badly wanted to know more about how she and her husband fell in love, to better grasp why a Western woman would be willing to change everything about her life and move into a place like Petra. The book glosses over the details of their marriage and is more a factual account of events. Marguerite and her family (they had three children together) continued living in their cave until they were relocated along with the rest of the Bedouin community in the 80s. I would have comfortably lasted about 24 hours or less living in a cave so she really is incredible.
Petra is full of caves but none stood out as being particularly homey.
The city is bursting with ruins, the Monastery being the most grueling to reach. You have to climb up hundreds of steep rock steps directly exposed to the desert sun but it is entirely worth the challenge.
The Monastery is larger than the Treasury but the facade is unfortunately in worse shape. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the talent and skill of the Nabateans who chiseled this magical city.
We had some energy left in us after we reached the Monastery so we climbed onto another cliff ledge to get a panoramic view of the desert.
Petra is really not a see it once and be done kind of place. I liked seeing the Acropolis in Greece, the Vatican in Rome, etc. but have never felt like I needed to repeat any of them. If given the opportunity I would visit Petra again in a heartbeat. Exploring the ancient city gave me the sense of traveling back in time and it is truly WONDROUS.
The Dead Sea
The last stop on our Jordan itinerary was a dip in the Dead Sea. Nestled in between Jordan and Israel, you can access it from either country. As we drove along the Dead Sea to our hotel we witnessed the most beautifully intense sunset. The white crystals lining the shore are of course salt.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the planet. I read an article which mentioned you don’t swim in the Dead Sea, you float. This did not mean much to me until I got in and realized all I could really do was bob around.
Our hotel had a small area roped off for floating with an extremely active lifeguard. A long list of rules were posted, and the lifeguard’s behavior led me to believe he was at one point sworn into oath to protect them. He blew his whistle what seemed like every few seconds, to the point where I felt like everything us floaters were doing was against the law of the Dead Sea. For example, you are not allowed to float on your stomach because the buoyancy will naturally push your head straight down into the water. Due to the high salt content it’s not the kind of water you want in your eyes. The second I sort of looked like I was going to turn onto my stomach the lifeguard immediately blew his whistle at me. I was not annoyed but rather grateful for his steadfast reminders. I saw one girl face plant into the water and she was hurting.
To summarize my time in the water I would say I kind of loved it, kind of didn’t love it.
You can see S demonstrating his buoyancy. Shoes or flip flops are required because the sea floor is sharp.
The mud from the sea was pre-collected for us by the hotel and we both lathered ourselves from head-to-toe. Companies sell Dead Sea skincare products but I can’t say I noticed any differences after our morning at the world’s most natural spa.
We only had a couple of hours to spend at the Dead Sea before we had to leave and catch a flight out of Amman.
In total we spent three full days in Jordan and while it was enough to do Wadi Rum, Petra, and the Dead Sea, we wish we had planned to be there longer. Neither of us expected to enjoy it as much as we did, and I am still swooning over all the exciting things we experienced while in Jordan. I might be biased but I think it should be at the top of your list of future adventures!