The Lost City of Petra:
Of all the places I have been, I rank Petra as ‘The Coolest.’ Those of you who know me, know my main curiosity lies in learning the details of archeologically significant ruins and ancient historical sites. I like to turn everything into a learning experience. Petra was stunningly beautiful and radiant with heritage and culture.
I went to Petra in July of 2017. The weather was quite hot but not unbearable. I traveled with Stanford and his 15-year-old daughter Bee. While in the confines of Petra, we felt safe and we were comfortable in casual attire. We brought scarfs just in case we needed to cover up (out of respect for religious sites) but found them unnecessary. We did need the scarfs along the crossing of the border into Jordan (I explain in detail in the Getting There section of this blog).
Petra is an ancient city carved from the beautiful, reddish tinted cliffs in the country of Jordan. UNESCO called Petra “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.” When you are within the walls of the carved cliffside, you feel like you are somewhere special. Petra came to form around the 4th century BCE, and it was a thriving region until around 363 when earthquakes caused an exodus of this culturally advanced city. Most people forgot it existed except for the Bedouins who inhabited the carved-out caves until 1812 when the explorer JL Burckhardt exposed this secret city.
Most surprising about Petra is its size. The conventional picture of the treasury leads one to believe you will go to Petra, see a few facades and leave. This is inaccurate.Bring your walking shoes because the main trail is an easy 2 miles, whereas some of the side hikes can be about 7-8 hours and more strenuous. There is a lot to see in Petra. The guide noted that one of the comments he most received was, “I didn’t realize it was so big” and “ I didn’t realize there was so much to see.” Every corner has new facades, and each façade has a story. Petra can be seen in a day but prepare yourself for lots of steps. We didn’t do the more intense hikes, but we did hike up to the Royal Tombs. From there you will be rewarded with stunning views and the experience of going inside the tombs. At the end of the hike, there was a traditional buffet that was included in the price of our tour. The food was homemade and very good.
After the lunch you have a few options to get back, one is to walk back the same way you came; another is to take a donkey ride uphill and circle back. I wanted to do the walk uphill but was quickly shot down by Stanford and Bee. The donkey ride is pretty inexpensive, but you will want to have cash on hand if you choose this option.
At the time of the trip, Stanford and I were ‘just friends.’ The man who was leading the donkey rides was a Bedouin from the area. He politely helped me on the donkey and smiled at me. During the uphill trip, he smiled at me again and pointed to Stanford and asked, “Is that your husband?”
I shook my head no.
He then asked, “Is that your boyfriend?”
I responded with a simple, “No.”
He then smiled at me again and said slyly, “ I have five wives. I am a lucky man.”
I laughed, and Stanford quickly yelled back, “If you pick him over me, I have some life choices to evaluate.”
Thus ended my thoughtful consideration of being a 6th wife.
We took the donkeys to the van and departed back to Israel. Petra is a city of breathtaking sites. I suggest it for anyone as a day trip from Israel.
For more information check out part 2, Jordan: Getting to Petra
and part 3, Jordan: Talk with a Local