January 3, 2013 - We arrived in Petra around 5:30pm and were originally scheduled to be at a Jordanian cooking class at 6. Since it had already been a long, busy day and the class was a little pricey, we decided to forego the Petra Kitchen and enjoy the buffet at the hotel instead. But before dinner, the hotel was running a special for their Turkish bath that was attached to the building. For only about $18 we sat in a steam room and then each had separate massages on hot slabs of marble before being doused in hot water. It was a pretty relaxing end to the day. After dinner at the hotel we flipped on a movie in the room and were sleeping by around 10 or 11.
We woke up early again the next morning, grabbed a very quick breakfast and jumped on the free hotel shuttle to the entrance of Petra. The entrance fee for tourists was quite expensive, around $70 each. In comparison, the fee for Jordanian residents is just $1. However, it was worth every penny we spent.
Petra is an ancient Arabian city carved out of rock by the Nabataeans around 312
BC. It is now considered one of the seven wonders of the world. Located in the center of caravan trade routes, Petra became a thriving desert city. They built water conduits that helped the civilization flourish even during times of drought. The city rapidly declined under Roman rule, and major earthquakes left the city virtually abandoned until a Swiss explorer discovered it again in the early 1800s.
When we walked in, we were immediately approached by some locals offering us horse rides down the entrance of the narrow passage (the Siq) that leads to the city. The horse rides were included in our ticket prices, but we just had to tip $5 to the owners of the horse who walked us down. The Siq was an incredible gorge with many carvings in the rock. Along the sides of the walls was a channel that was carved in to the rock used to carry water down to the city.
As we came to the end of the Siq, we were greeted by the most famous of Petra's ruins, the Treasury. After 20 minutes of pictures and standing in a state of awe, we continued on exploring the rest of
Petra. We climbed up to the high point of sacrifice, where the Nabataeans would slaughter a goat each day, and then climbed down the backside of the peak to see the rest of the city. All throughout the day we were approached by local Bedouin children trying to sell us jewelry and souvenir items. It was interesting to notice how well they all spoke English. They were persistent, but also polite and left us alone once we said "no thank you".
Petra was truly one of the most incredible places I've ever been. The steep entrance fee and 5-6 miles of walking/hiking was definitely worth the amazing experience. I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the region.
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