Thursday, March 1, 2018

Travel Talk Essential Jordan Tour, Part 4: Petra!

So far I've talked about my Travel Talk Essential Jordan tour in Amman, Jerash, and Wadi Rum desert. On day 4, we left Wadi Rum and made our way for what is (to me) the highlight of the trip: Petra! Petra is the ancient Nabatean city built into the sandstone rocks and cliffs.

So, all I knew about Petra before was The Treasury, which you and I have seen on many Instagrams and of course, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I didn't realize how big Petra really was! It is 264 sq km (102 sq miles). So what I'm basically saying is, be prepared for a hike or at least a long walk.

The main trail goes from the Visitor's Center to the start of the steps to the Monastery, and it is 4km long (2.5 miles) - that does not include the steps though.

From the visitor's center you will walk through The Siq. It's a 1km crack in the mountain so you are walking in a narrow corridor surrounded by tall sandstone cliffs. There are a few things to see in the Siq, a taste of what's to come. At the end is a view you might have seen on Instagram as well. The narrow corridor opening up to the impressive Treasury!
And there it is, in full view. I wonder how long it took the Nabateans to carve this into the cliffs.
Now, if you really want to see the monastery but don't think you can cut it hiking up the steps, they do offer donkey rides (I'm not sure how much, depends on how good you are at negotiating, but one of the people on our tour group got one for 10JD). She did say riding the donkey down the stairs was a bit scary! Anyway, I decided to be healthy and hiked it.
As usual, I'm slow, but finally I reached the top! The carvings on the Monastery are less elaborate than the Treasury, but it's bigger. I also decided I deserved a treat and got myself a glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice (3JD).
I was whining to the juice man about how tough the hike was. He says he does that every day, no biggie! Welp. The pomegranate juice tasted so good after that trek. After taking many many photos, it was time to hike back down. Petra closes at 5 PM so we had to make it out of the gates around then (although they don't really lock the gates at 5, they expect a lot of stragglers. I made it out almost at 6PM).

During our Petra run, we stayed at La Maison Hotel in Wadi Musa, which was just a 5 minute walk to the visitor center. It was kind of too bad we were at La Maison for only one night, since it was the nicest hotel on the whole trip! They had the best breakfast options out of the hotels, too, so be sure not to skip breakfast.
The shower was small but nice, great water pressure. Or perhaps any shower would've felt just as good after sweating all day in Petra.

For dinner we went to My Mom's Recipe Restaurant. The restaurant was literally just down the street from our hotel, which was perfect because my legs were so tired from the hike. Also, the restaurant had great reviews on TripAdvisor, so it sounded promising.

Three of us from the tour group went and ordered different things. My favorite, and most interesting dish, was the Chicken Musakhan.
Wadi Musa
This is a dish of chicken with sumac spices, onion, saffron, and pine nuts, then wrapped and baked in a thin layer of bread.
Wadi Musa
After dinner, we went for drinks at a place called Cave Bar. Cave Bar is located at a hotel (Petra Guest House) right next to Petra's visitor center and it is kind of the oldest bar in the world. Not the bar itself, but the location. Cave Bar is actually in a 2000-year old Nabatean tomb (from 1st century BC!).
Cave Bar
The drink menu is pretty standard, but remember alcohol is rare in Jordan so I welcomed even this and got a decent mojito.

Cave Bar
Drinking mojito in a tomb
Plus I'm drinking in a tomb. I also had to order a dessert. I got Umm Ali, which is an Egyptian milky bread pudding.
Cave Bar
The next morning we all woke up early and went to breakfast as soon as it started so we can rush out back into Petra! After all, we had to make it up to the Treasury Outlook and be back to catch our bus at noon.
Petra opens at 7 AM, so luckily we had just enough time to go to the Outlook and back without rushing it too much.

The trek to the Treasury outlook spot is a shorter trek than the Monastery (phew!). Again, donkey rides are available, but the walk up gives you nice sweeping views of Petra. If you have time to take it easy and enjoy the views, take photos, then I recommend walking up. A couple people from our tour took the donkey since we had limited time.

A view of just a part of Petra on the way up:

On the way up to the Outlook you would pass by the Royal Tomb, which you can actually go into and look around inside, so I recommend stopping here if you have the time.
Royal Tomb
I'm not sure if I had mentioned it before, but the majority of the people who went on this Travel Talk tour were young(ish) solo female travelers. Most of them wanted a mini photo shoot at the outlook, of course. Hey, after all the hiking I did, I deserved a photo shoot, so I joined in.
If you keep going to the other outlook - a hut just down the trail from this spot, you can take a photo with Shakira, the hut owner's cat. I was told she was an insta-celebrity because so many people took her photo here.

Some takeaways: Petra has been on my bucket list forever and it is worth seeing and exploring! The place is much bigger than I had expected and it is crowded with tourists, small souvenir stalls, and they won't stop bothering you offering donkey or camel rides all day. The last part does detract a bit from the beautiful place, but don't let it deter you! Despite that, Petra itself is worth it.

Next .. we leave Wadi Musa to float in the Dead Sea.


Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital