Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Jordan’s PETRA ~ The Rose-red city half as old as time


Created sometime before the birth of Christ. . .
106 A.D. annexed by the Romans . . .
1812 discovered by a Swiss explorer. . .
1985 named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. . .
2007 named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. . .
One of 28 places that Smithsonian Magazine recommends you see before you die.

Gulf of Aqaba to right of Sinai Peninsula
We’d been on Oceania’s Nautica for nearly a month when when reached the Gulf of Aqaba. We would spend two nights docked at the port city of the same name. . .we’d arrived at the Kingdom of Jordan

By that point in our cruise – 27 days after departing Bangkok, Thailand for Istanbul,Turkey  - there was no doubt in my mind that we were living our own version of Scheherazade’s Arabian Nights.

We’d reached the land of Bedouins and camels made famous by Thomas Edward Lawrence, British military officer whose work in the area was immortalized in the movie, Lawrence of Arabia. Later fictional hero Indiana Jones searched for the Holy Grail here in his Last Crusade movie. 

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A Bedouin camp between Aqaba and Petra
We must have been inspired by both those intrepid explorers as we  decided to skip the ship’s tours – this time we were setting off on our own* to explore Petra and the Wadi Rum!

 Petra, the rose-red* city 

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The Sig - Petra, Jordan
The route to Petra, traversed by foot, horse-back or carriage is through The Sig, a narrow slot canyon with rock formations as dazzling as the city itself. We opted to walk with our guide through the Sig. He kept our pace brisk, noting there was much to see in the few hours we had allotted to this stop.

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An amazing route through The Sig - Petra, Jordan
Petra is the ancient city of the Nabataeans, a trade center on a major caravan route that linked Arabia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean. It was a vibrant place some 2,000 years ago with 20,000 residents. Then in 106 A.D. it was annexed by Rome and in later centuries was hit by earthquakes and abandoned.  In 1812 it was discovered by a Swiss explorer.

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"The Scout" and our Petra guide
In recent decades its stone structured has been inhabited by the Bedouins, those once-nomadic people of the desert.  Our guide, as a young Bedouin boy, lived in Petra with his family. He began selling postcards to tourists when he was five.  He spoke English well and said it was self-taught as he recognized the need to speak the language if he was going to succeed as a tour guide.

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The Treasury - Petra, Jordan

Perhaps the most recognizable of all the carved-in-stone tombs and temples in Petra is the Treasury, or in Arabic, Khozneh. It was so named because it was believed to hold treasures but in fact was an amazing entry to a tomb.

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Petra, Jordan
Petra’s main road seems to stretch endlessly past facades and entryways carved into rose and tan colored sandstone cliffs. Yet, some reports say only 15% of the city has been uncovered.
In Jordan, like Egypt, tourism has tanked as result of security concerns. As a result, it wasn’t over-run with tourists which made business slow for those offering camel rides and selling sand creations. The good news was we could watch this artist at work and get as close as we wanted.

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Scenes in Sand Artistry - Petra, Jordan
Those creations we watched being made of sand coupled with the remains of those sandstone creations from centuries ago  - like the one in the photo below - will long make up the memories we have of this remarkable destination.
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Camels feet and that of a human are all that remain - Petra, Jordan
We could have spent the day exploring here – especially since this shutterbug found the camels to be totally charming – but by high noon the heat had intensified. We’d seen the area where Indiana Jones had been, it was time to move to the Wadi Rum and walk in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia. . .

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Camels are incredible creatures - Petra, Jordan
*Petra Footnotes:

P1010320* Touring ‘on our own’ as stated above, means we hired a private guide through, Memphis Tours, a company recommended by travelers on both TripAdvisor and Cruise Critic.

A large number of cruise passengers these days arrange their own tours in advance of sailing. We had numerous small groups setting off on their own at each of our ports of call, so for those thinking of how daring we must have been: we weren’t!


Our driver, who met us at and returned us to the ship in a spotlessly clean, modern vehicle, transported us to Petra and Wadi Rum and then turned us over to local guides.

[Our tour vs. the ship tour:  The cost of our tour may sound pricey at first at $670, for both of us, lunch included. However, a similar tour offered by the ship, also including lunch, would have cost $1,110. We had the flexibility to stop along the way when we wanted and we got to Petra before large numbers of tourists arrived. But in addition to cost and flexibility considerations, it is important to determine your own comfort level when choosing to go it alone or with a group tour.]

Petra is often referred to as the ‘rose-red’ city because of a stanza in the poem written by Englishman John William Burgon:

Petra

It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.

This poem won Burgon Oxford University's prestigious Newdigate Prize for Poetry in 1845. The last couplet has become one of the more famous in poetry. Burgon had never seen Petra. 


That’s it for this week – we’ll head next to the Wadi Rum. Safe travels to you and yours and hope to see you back here again~

Linking this week to:
Mosaic Monday – 
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

59 comments:

  1. Wow, beautiful pictures and good information. Good on ya for doing Petra like that.
    For me it is so near, yet so far. Still, I live in hope of going one day.

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    1. Dina, isn't it so true about being so near and yet so far? Thanks for stopping by today and I do hope you get to Petra one day - with your photo skills and insights you'd create some fabulous blog posts!

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  2. Great photos and information! So nice to have found you!!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes! I've added you to the blogs I am following. So happy we've happened upon each other!

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  3. I am just amazed at your ability to do this type travel...my goodness.
    Beautiful photos and I love that one of the camel...it would look so amazing, blown up and hanging on your wall in Greece...

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    1. Oh BJ, we are racing against time when we travel - knowing that there is such a finite amount of time to get as much done as we can before we become physically or mentally unable. And now that I have discovered the charms of Middle Eastern camels, I am ready to return in a moment's notice. Thanks for the visit - hugs, J.

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  4. Absolutely amazing! I just read the the book Lawrence In Arabia by Scott Anderson. Seeing these pictures only adds to the book. I can't wait to see you Wadi Rum pictures too. What a great trip this must have been!

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    1. We watched the movie - which was shown several times on one of the ship's channels and then read the book. It is so ab-so-lute-ly incredible to see Jordan in person, that I have put it on our list for a must return to visit! Thanks for taking the time to comment - do hope you'll be a regular!

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  5. Jordon is definitely on my list.

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    1. Gaelyn, We drove from Vegas to Scottsdale yesterday and kept remarking on how much the scenery reminded us of Jordan (now that we've been there) and I think you would absolutely LOVE it. It was my favorite stop.

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  6. Hi Jackie! I always look in awe at photos of Petra. People always look so small next to those beautiful buildings. One of these days I'll get there. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPthursday

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    1. The size, the colors, the overwhelming beauty and history - I was spellbound, simply unable to speak (and you know me - that is a most unusual state to be in). As always thanks for hosting #TPThursday.

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  7. I enjoyed your narrative and gorgeous photos of the rose red city. I was quite surprised at the cost of the tour, but when compared to the ship's version it is quite economical. It seems the cost of land excursions when cruising would really impact on the budget.

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    1. Thanks and glad you liked the post, Jan. Yes, we've been 'taken back' a bit by the cost of tours, both those arranged on our own and those with the cruise line. Visas and tours can almost double the cost of a cruise depending on the routing, countries and number of tours you take.

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  8. Such a great adventure! The camels seem to be posing in front of The Treasury. A friend of mine was in Petra (and other parts of the area) this weeks. I have been seeing all his pictures in Facebook. I don't mind seeing pictures of such a beautiful place every day.

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    1. It was good getting there as early as we did as we had nothing but camels and the Treasury - by the time we walked around a bit and other tour groups had begun arriving, it was impossible to take a photo without human beings milling around in it. Thanks for the visit Ruth.

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  9. Seeing the Treasury in Petra is one of my dreams destinations, so I'm glad to see it and the slot canyon through your lens. I think you are wise to book your own personal guide as the flexibility of being able to do as you like and not having to share the space with a large tour group are great benefits.

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    1. I so hope you get there Michele as it was simply amazing - it is difficult to find the words to describe how amazing without sounding trite about it. But do keep it high on your list!

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  10. I loved Petra too, though I wasn't so charmed by the camels. I'd recommend spending two days there since there's so much to see and a couple of the best tombs take some climbing to get to.

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    1. I hear you Rachel and agree, two days at minimum for the explorations there and I'd also expand my time in Wada Rum as well. Glad to see that you also loved Petra. Happy travels~

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  11. It just boggles my mind how you can live and work in such a dry environment. What a stubborn picture of that camel!

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  12. Such an iconic place! Going in a small group with a driver sounds like the best option. I'd see it any way I could!

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    1. Yes, whatever it took to get there - this place shouldn't be missed!

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  13. If you say Aqaba, the first thing I think of is Lawrence of Arabia. This looks like quite a unique and wonderful experience. thanks for joining #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. Eileen you are so in tune with my thoughts and our next post is from the Wadi Rum - Lawrence's 'stomping ground' please come back for more! #Wkendtravelinspiration

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  14. Petra's been on my bucket list for years, ever since I first read about it. There's something about this two-thousand year old "lost" city that's always sparked my imagination - as well as a fantasy about arriving by camel! I can totally identify with the poet who dreamed of the rose-red city.

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    1. Well, you might not arrive by camel but you certainly could ride around once there, on a camel. Make sure you get there by whatever means - it is simply extraordinary!

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  15. Jackie and Joel, Didn't you just love Petra? We went for two days and hiked and hiked and photographed and photographed. I could do it again. I love it.

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    1. Oh Corinne, I could go back and yes, spend days there simply hiking and looking and then doing it all over again! Thanks much for stopping by - glad you, too, loved Petra.

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  16. What a beautiful city Jackie. I remember seeing this recently on the news and was upset because some of it was bombed. I'm so happy to see that parts of it are still there. It is heartbreaking to me to hear that there are monuments so old that are being destroyed. I'm happy to see you had a wonderful time and the sand artistry looks very interesting.

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    1. Mary, I think you are thinking of that other fantastic place (the name escapes me) in Syria that was recently struck by those claiming to be terrorists.

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  17. Oooooh, I would love to visit Petra. Nice photos of this amazing place.

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    1. Thanks Charles for the nice comment on the photos. Put this high on your bucket list - you won't be disappointed!

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  18. That's a wonderful adventure you are having! I loved Petra when I visited Jordan 16 yrs ago and do plan to go back again. I remember vividly the moment I spotted The Treasury while walking through The Siq - incredible!

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    1. It is one of 'those' moments, isn't it when you first catch sight of it? I can get goose pimples just thinking about it. Thanks much for the vista today and like you I do plan to get back there one day!

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  19. Petra looks really impressive. If only 15% has been uncovered, imagine what it must have once been! What a great experience to see this.

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    1. It does make you wonder how long, if ever, they will discover and unearth it all. . . thanks for the visit, Donna!

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  20. Very lucky to have this blog. The post is informative and photographs are amazing!

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  21. I'm envious of your being away for so long. I've always wanted to see Petra and what a great experience you had. The Treasury looks incredible-just trying to imagine how it was built in ancient times is mind boggling.

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    1. It was a treat to be on a cruise ship for a month! And yes, Petra is such an amazing - totally mind-boggling - place. We'd love to go back. Thanks for the visit Alison

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  22. Petra is such an amazing site. Love your camel image. One of my fondest memory there is of riding out in a chariot, racing like the wind, with a friend (now deceased) who convinced me I shouldn't walk back out (as we did in) but instead should accompany him in his chariot. It was quite a ride!

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    1. I can see you in that chariot, racing like the wind! That would have been a blast, Carole. Thanks for sharing that memory!

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  23. Gorgeous photos of a site on many a Bucket List, including mine! The slot canyon lends an even greater air of mystery to the location. The residual energy in Petra has to be amazing. Good info re: the private tour.

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    1. Betsy make sure you get here - move it up on the Bucket List as it is absolutely amazing!! Thanks much for the visit and comment ~

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  24. Petra is one of the biggest sites left on our list. Seeing your great photos and descriptions just made us even more anxious to see it. Thanks for all of the info.

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    1. We'll send you the information on the tour company we used if you find yourselves heading to Jordan soon. Thanks for the visit!

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  25. A great read. Thank you so much for sharing with "Through My Lens"

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. And as always thanks Mersad for hosting such a great linkup!

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  26. What an amazing landscapes carved out of tanned cliffs. Must have been quite an experience to watch those sand artist at work. Beautiful creations.

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    1. I could have spent half the day just watching them turned colored sand into those beautiful creations. Thanks much for the visit- hope you'll be a regular at TravelnWrite.

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    2. Certainly, I love your style of writing...and your travels even more interesting :)

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  27. I'm still getting ver the fact that you spent 27 ays on a cruise...amazing! Petra is one of the wonders of the world! It's a shame you missed some of the other sites and Petra by candlelight but it gives you a reason to go back!

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  28. A month-long cruise sounds like a dream! What a bucket list of memories~

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  29. I really need to get Petra off my "must see" list and move it to my "saw it" list! Thanks for the tip and info re the guide. I think private guides are often the very best way to go and it sounds as if this was well worth the investment.

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  30. Petra has got to be one of the most incredible places I have ever seen. I had to convince my hubby to add it on to our Israel trip, but we were so glad we got to see this treasure. Seeing your photos brought back great memories of that amazing day!

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  31. Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts
    jordan tourism

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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