Monday, April 26, 2010

Petra - The Lost City of Stone

Monday April 5th
Okay, so I have to admit, before we started planning our trip to Egypt in December I had never even heard of Petra.  I have to thank our friend, Diana, for telling us about this "New Seven Wonder of the World" and for making us go!  You may have seen it in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Transformers, or Mortal Combat - no?  Well maybe these pictures will jog your memory - and if you are ever in this neck of the woods - we HIGHLY recommend going to Petra - it was unbelievable what the Nabataeans built all the way back in the 6th century B.C.

But let's back up - I have to mention our second trip across the desert from Sharm to Taba -  Egypt's border with Israel that we had to cross to get to Jordan.  The ride had basically the same scenery as our last car ride, but I did get to learn some Arabic - thanks to our tour guide, Diaa!  I can now write my name - well kinda:)

After arriving at Taba, our original directions were to "walk through Israel to Jordan" where we we would have a car waiting for us.  We were all very confused about this because when you look at a map it seems a lot further than walking distance - which it was.  Thank goodness we received better information from Diaa once we got there - we just needed to walk a short distance then hop in a cab to the Jordan border - much better!  However, we were told it would take about 25 minutes - not so much - but it wasn't that bad either -  it took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes to cross Israel and both border controls.

Welcome to Israel

They let us in - Yes!   Now hopefully they will let us out:)
Group shot on the Israel side of the Taba Border which is right on the Red Sea.

Phew - that "walk across the desert" was hard work, but we made it!
Once we started driving in Jordan, I was thrown off by the landscape.  I was expecting the same terrain as Egypt - desert - but it was actually pretty green.  Our driver told us that was because there were natural springs running under the land and that it actually snowed in that part of Jordan sometimes - huh - I never would have guessed that!

View of the Jordanian landscape from the car -okay so it's not rolling green grass and oak trees or anything but more g reen than I thought - way more than Egypt where we saw no green!

It took us about 2 hours to get from the border to Petra where we met our tour guide, Aly.  Aly was THE MAN!  I swear he was the Mayor of Petra because everybody knew him - even the little bedouin children called him by name when we walked past them!  If you use Memphis Tours definitely request Aly!

We started the tour by riding horses to the beginning of the Siq "the shaft" - the narrow passage that leads to Petra.  I thought the Siq was beautiful in and of itself, but Aly kept saying "wait, this is nothing" and boy was he right.  When we reached the end of the Siq the very first thing you see is the Al Khazneh "The Treasury" - unbelievable - carved right into the side of the sandstone cliffs!  I thought I took pretty good pictures, but once I got home I realized they just don't do it justice, so - if you have the chance - GO SEE IT - it's amazing what they accomplished so long ago!:)

Horse ride down to the Siq - ha ha suckers to all the people walking!:)

The beginning of our walk through the Siq

Aly showing us some of the Pagan God carvings by the Nabataeans.

End of the Siq right before it opens up into the City - this was the first glimpse of the awesomeness we were about to see:)!

Al Khazneh "The Treasury" - if you look closely you can see the two "dots" on both sides of the structure- those are the ends of the ladder that they used to build it - we were told they started at the top and worked their way down - hence all the "dots" - amazing!

The caves where were the people lived - a lot of the time amongst the dead - whom they cremated and then kept in the middle of their "house"

The Urn Tomb is behind us to the right - the first of the Royal Tombs

After Petra, we headed about 3 hours north to the Dead Sea for a couple relaxing days at the Marriott - now that's the kind of hotel I'm talking about!

p.s. - Here's a link to the rest of our pictures of Petra if you want to see them.

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