The Kingdom of Jordan was high on my list of places to visit for one main reason: The Ancient City of Petra. It was made extremely famous by the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where the final sequence was shot. Unfortunately, I did not see Sean Connery and Harrison Ford riding out on Horseback. There were only tourists today!
The drive from Amman to Petra is supposed to be about four hours, but since I had a rookie driver who got lost many times, it took more than six hours! It is Jordan’s national treasure and I get the only guy in the entire country that had no clue how to get there. I did get to meet a very photogenic local that had a café located right on the side of the cliff.
Regardless, I made it to Petra. The entrance to the city carved from rock was through “As-Siq” which means “the shaft”. It is a dark, narrow gorge, only about three to four metres wide that is a natural geologic feature. It creates an impressive and dramatic build up as “the Treasury” reveals itself to you. The Treasury is that famous image that you think of when the name Petra is mentioned. It is also the Fictional location of the Holy Grail in the Indiana Jones movie. The actual interior of each of these impressive buildings are carved out of stone and are rather spacious, but obviously nowhere near what was depicted in the movie.
As you walk past the treasury, you get a sense of how extensive this city is. All along both sides of this valley are beautiful buildings carved out of solid rock. The precision was amazing and the deterioration was very minimal considering how old these carvings are.
The main modes of transportation in Petra are Donkey, Horse and Camel. For a few dollars, you can hire a “Petra Taxi” to take you through the sprawling stone city. I chose to walk until I heard that the final leg of the trip to the Monastery was to walk up over 800 steps! I then hired a donkey as they are the only animals built for the treacherous walk up the mountain. As my donkey and I started our ascent, I realized how much I must weigh after gorging on various delicacies over the last three and a half months. I was also wearing my camera pack. For almost the entire time, I felt sorry for the donkey as he was panting and struggling to carry me and my camera up to the top. At times, I felt like walking beside him to give him a break!
After the 20 minute Donkey Taxi up, I caught a glimpse of the most amazing structure of the entire city: Ad-Deir or “The Monastery”. It was a massive building carved out of the side of the mountain. The craftsmanship was incredible and the lines were still crisp even after centuries! I then sat down on some Arabic cushions and enjoyed a Turkish coffee in one of the rooms carved out hundreds of years ago. It was a great ending to a fantastic journey.
Petra is a place I had always wanted to visit, but I had no idea it was this beautiful. Of all of the days I have been travelling for, this ranks up in my top five experiences of the entire expedition.