Petra – ‘A Red Rose City Half As Old As Time.’

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Petra is like something out of a movie! Oh wait…. it is in the movies! That’s because it’s..well..AMAZING! It’s somewhere I had always dreamed of going but never imagined I would actually make it there. I finally got to see Petra while in Jordan October 2014 and while I’m no Indiana Jones, It was still quite an adventure!

How to get to Petra..

Petra is about a 2 hour 43 minute drive from Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. You can take a bus tour from Amman which leaves at about 6am but we chose to drive so we could be free with our time. If you choose to go by bus, you can visit and its about 10 JDR ( Jordan Dinar ) per person per way from Amman to Petra and back, which isn’t bad and their buses look pretty top-notch! There is not a ton to see on the way as it’s mostly open rocky land. We got a bit lost at one point, which is a bit scary because there is NOTHING around for miles and miles. We did, however, find a goat herder to point us in the right direction. But please make sure you study your route and directions before you leave home base! Petra is in the middle of nowhere. Once you get closer to the town of Petra its more mountainous and the views are really nice! We happened to go to Petra coincidentally on the same day as the King, so there were soldiers with guns standing on rocks on the hills along the highway everywhere and there was quite a bit of security in Petra.

Once you’re in Petra…

Once we arrived, I was so excited to just get inside and start exploring and riding horses and camels! If you are not a Jordanian resident, the cost of admission is 50 Dinar ( about $70.59 ) which is quite a bit higher than what Jordanian residents pay at only 1 Dinar! I got lucky because my better half is Jordanian but it’s totally worth it either way! You can also save if you buy multiple days. 2 Days for 55 Dinar or 3 days for 60 Dinar. So if you are around for a while, its worth it to do more than one day because once you go inside, there is a lot to see and you can definitely spend more than one day exploring as there’s more than 800 monuments spread throughout all of Petra!

You can do Petra by day or by night! So far, I’ve only done by day but by night looks amazing as it appears they fill the area around the Treasury with candles and it looks very romantic and just plain cool!!!

When we first went through the gates, we walked down a little hill to the first “horse station”. We all grabbed a horse and were led by someone down past the Bab al-Siq Triclinium to the first part to the entrance of the Siq ( About a 1200 meter long gorge carved out by the Nabateans in the 1st Century B.C. ).

Bab al-Siq Triclinium
Bab al-Siq Triclinium

From there we walked and eventually I could start to see the Treasury (Khazne) just barely through the winding rocks. Then we emerged and there it was!! A sight to be seen! You can’t help but gasp when you walk out and look up at this wonder of the world! Such history, such beauty. Especially for someone who loves archaeology like I do! As quickly as you lose your breath, that moment will, however, be quickly stolen by merchants trying to get your money! Beware, they are very aggressive and you have to say no multiple times and BE STERN! They do not care about you, your needs or your wants. They only want your money. If only I had understood arabic, I would not have smiled and nodded at the man calling me a “tourist like the dirt on his shoes!”. I bet he got a kick out of that one! No pun intended, don’t worry I came out footprint clear!

One thing great about merchants in Jordan, is you can always negotiate…to an extent. This worked out well for the camel ride! You can’t not ride a camel in Petra! If I remember correctly, they started at an insane 70 Dinar for a half hour but we compromised at 10 Dinar for a quick one way ride to the next area, which was about 10 minutes. Still a bit pricy, but again SO worth it!! Getting on and off the camel is quite a task in itself. They warned me to hold on tight when it stood up, but I wasn’t expecting him to stand the EXACT SECOND I sat on its back! Luckily I didn’t roll down his neck and faceplant in the sand! Although it was a close call! So HOLD ON TIGHT! Then, sit back and enjoy!! Once we got through the other side, I attempted yet again to unmount the camel without falling. I wouldn’t say I looked graceful by any means but I came out of my first camel riding experience unbroken!

This area seemed to be where the old center of town was. There were many houses carved into the stone mountains with a  theatre on the opposite side. We explored the inside of the structures then made our way down to the end. We then walked up 800 or so steps to the Royal Tombs.

There were also several tombs throughout Petra. Every piece of this place has so much beauty. The colors blow through the sandstone like wind and waves of orange, red and gray. There were several merchants throughout. Some seemed to stay for long periods with cots behind their makeshift tent shops to find rest when they could. I got a beautiful scarf from a woman who gave me a great deal! Then it was time to head back and end our day.

Petra Sandstone
Beautiful Sandstone

We walked back through the Siq to where the horses end and grabbed another horse for the last leg back. I told them I was experienced and they let me take the reins for myself without leading me and told me to go as fast as I wanted. What a treat!!! So with a little nudge of the heel, I was off!! Cantering through the sand alongside ancient history with the wind blowing in my hair, I guess I did have my Indiana Jones moment after all! I couldn’t have had a happier ending to the day!! This is a day with my better half and his father that will remain a memory forever! I would jump on an opportunity go again. There is still so much to explore. I hope this might motivate you to visit as well! You won’t regret it !