Travel Journal

Petra

(Saturday 18 December 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 125-6 – 12/7-12/8/10 Petra
It’s about a 3 hour ride to Petra and I was hoping to see the site on a two day pass – half a day today and a full day tomorrow. Since we didn’t have accommodations lined up, we took an offer for a ride from the bus stop to see Valentine Inn which was listed in the guide book. Seemed okay although the answer to do you have hot water was “Yes, morning and afternoon” so we took the room when they said they could take us to Petra for the afternoon. We met an American called Steve who was traveling independently and had a rental car so we got a ride with him instead.
Petra has raised its prices three times this year and the last was November first bringing it to a whopping $77 for a two day pass. If you’re a day visitor and haven’t spent the night in Jordan, it’s even more for a one day pass. I suppose they can charge as much as people are willing to pay but what irked me is they force you to pay for a horse ride down to the site which is only a couple of kilometers away downhill, of course they will charge for the ride back uphill. We walked down rather than dealing with the demands for tips from the horsemen. A carriage ride up and down will cost over a hundred dollars and surprisingly there were a few people who choose that option.
The siq was formed not by water but movement of the earth so it is very narrow.
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You can see the ledges that carried water down in clay pipes on either side of the siq as you walked down. I was getting excited as I’ve seen photographs of the treasury as you approach it and was peeking around each curve hoping to catch a glimpse and when it finally came it did not disappoint.
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The sec leads into an open area which allows a complete view of the Al-Khazneh (treasury) monument. We spent quite a bit of time there to take it all in before moving on. I had only seen this building in travel journals and was not aware of the sprawling complex beyond it. While the cliff carvings are enormous the rooms dug into the mountains behind the facades are really surprisingly quite small.
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We veered off the main tourist path early on and climbed the steps to the High Place of Sacrificial which gave a great view of the valley below. We turned around there rather than continuing the hike to the next view point which was miles away. Since we had the whole next day, we didn’t try to see too much but we did walk past the amphitheatre,
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down the Street of Facades, and the colonnaded street.
While waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the hotel, we ran into Steve again who we saw several times in Petra and got a ride back to the hotel with him. The inn was definitely for the backpacking crowd with dorm rooms, cheap organized tours and buffet dinners with hardly any meat. We partook in the last and stuffed ourselves. There was no hot water by the time we had returned and the night got cold with no heater in the room. At night, in the common room, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was played for the umpteenth time from a worn down VHS tape so the crowd could cheer when the scenes from Petra came on.
The next day we finished off Petra taking a shuttle in the morning and returning on the 4PM shuttle to assure we would get a least a warm shower. We got a closer look at the royal tombs, visited the tiny museum which wasn’t worth the climb, and finally climbed to the “monastery” which was well worth the climb. I would guess this is about six miles from the entrance so I think it is really hard to do Petra on the one day pass. We spent a day and a half there and had to skip some areas.
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We had reserved tickets on a bus to Acaba the next morning to catch the ferry to Egypt. We thought long and hard about traveling overland through Israel but it’s really not much cheaper and certain Arabic nations would not let us in if there was any evidence of us entering Israel. While none of those countries are on our current itinerary, my passport is good for eight more years and a visit might be in there for the future.

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