We recently had two long weekends here in Jerusalem (got to love that we get all major American, Jewish, and Muslim holidays off) and Mr. Jerusal-Em and I took advantage with a few weekend trips in the region.
First, we finally crossed the border into Jordan, a process made easy by virtue of having Diplomatic license plates (otherwise you’d need to go with an organized tour or walk across the border). Crossing was a rather time-consuming experience, and, as is often the case, we weren’t properly prepared. We were short on the cash we’d need to pay for Jordanian car insurance for our two-day trip, and were faced with the option of walking back to the Israeli side to use the ATM, which would have been a much longer process than you’d expect. Lucky for us, an American by the name of Mr. Anderson came to our rescue and loaned us $20.
Our first stop was Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal town, situated on the Red Sea. I’d been to the Red Sea once before, but in the Israeli town of Eilat. (You can see Aqaba from Eilat and vice versa, in fact they’re so close it looks as if you could swim between them). After some average food, a belly dancing show, a swim in the hotel’s awesome pools, and some snorkeling in the delightful Red Sea, we drove a scenic route through Jordan’s countryside and mountains to reach Petra.
We checked in to a hotel right at the entrance to Petra (which is a national park and UNESCO site) and started our hike the next morning. (If you’re there on the right nights, you can see some of the park’s major sites at night by candlelight, but our timing was off). I had expected to like Petra (I mean, it’s a Wonder of the World) but I wasn’t expecting to be quite so bowled over by it. It’s an awe-inspiring combination of natural beauty and archeology and history, evident in the ancient manmade structures carved out of the rose-colored stone. The ancient site dates back to 300 years before Christ, but was re-discovered by a Swiss explorer 200 years ago.
I enjoyed every minute of our day in Petra: From seeing the major sights, like the Treasury and the Monastery, the panoramic views, the donkeys, the bedouins, and the great workout. I’d highly, highly recommend a visit to Petra for any hiker, history-lover, archeology buff, Indiana Jones fan.
To Petra (and to Mr. Anderson, for taking a chance on an unknown fellow traveler)
Em in Jerusalem