Exploration in Petra

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October 19th 2016
Published: December 2nd 2017
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It was an early breakfast this morning as the plan was to head out with Kevin and Patrick to hike into Petra via a much longer and less traveled route. However, at breakfast I just wasn't ready to head out at such an early hour so I took my time eating breakfast and let Kevin and Patrick head out with Brent, Jocelyn, and Ronan. It was quite the sight to see Brent and Jocelyn dressed up as the characters from Indiana Jones as they set out for today's hike. I would find out later that there was a reason to this. I wasn't dissapointed in not joining them as it would be nice to just go at my own pace and have a little alone time to enjoy Petra all by myself. I eventually headed out on my own retracing yesterdays steps through the Siq into Petra. The trail through the Siq was quite empty and at many spots I found myself all by myself. I began thinking that this was a great idea to head out early to explore as I would avoid the mass of visitors. Like yesterday, it was amazing to stand in front of the Treasury to admire it in all it's glory but what made this even better was the lack of people here. For some visitors, this is the extent of their visit into Petra. However, there is just so much more than just the famous Treasury to see here. Continuing on the trail, I quickly bypassed the Street of Facades, Royal Tombs and the Theater which I had already seen yesterday and made my way to the Petra City Center area. Downhill from the Theater is the Colonnaded Street section of Petra which marks the entrance to the City Center. This main area of the ancient city of Petra is highlighted with the remains of the Great Temple. Damaged by a major earthquake, not much remains of the Great Temple except for some freestanding columns and some back rooms which I explored without finding anything noteworthy. The Colonnaded Street section ends at the Temenos Gateway which marked the entrance to the sacred courtyard. From here I checked out the Temple of Dushares before making my way up the trail to the second most famous monument of Petra, The Monastery.

Hidden high the in the hills above Petra, the hike to The Monastery was a long and strenuous uphill walk into the surrounding rocky hills. Combine this with the heat and the sandy trail at some points, the hike was definitely a good workout. This hike probably isn't recommended for anyone not in somewhat decent shape as the more than 800 steps carved into the rock are rather steep and slippery at some points. In fact, I constantly had to stop and let donkeys pass which were transporting those not able to or not interested in doing the hike. Along the way, local Bedouins had set up small makeshift shops selling water, tea, snacks, or souvenir trinkets to the hikers coming through. Just before reaching the Monastery, I approached an area with more established shops. I rested here for a good 30 minutes where I bought a soda and some pringles and in customary Jordanian fashion, the shop owner offered me some delicious warm mint tea. From these shops, it was a short hike up to the Monastery. Similar in design to the Treasury, the Monastery was much bigger and thankfully with much less people. I took a seat at the cave teahouse for a good vantage point to just sit there and soak everything in. Unfortunately like the Treasury, it was forbidden from entering inside and I had to just be conent with admiring it from the outside. Behind the teahouse, was a short walk to another makeshift teahouse hosted by yet another Jack Sparrow look alike. I was attracted to the sounds of his flute playing and I knew that from his teahouse, there would be great views of the surrounding area. I took a seat inside this teahouse where I was served more mint tea and just enjoyed the fantastic but windy views over Wadi Araba and Israel. After finishing my mint tea, I hiked back down to the Monastery to savor the view one last time before beginning my descent back down into Petra.

As I started my hike back down, I realized that Kevin and Patrick should probably be making their way up here by now. So I took my time in hiking back down and sure enough, I ran into them on their way up. They seemed surprised to see me up here and even more surprised that I made it this far up. I decided to hike back up with them and then wait at the shops while they checked out the Monastery. The 3 of us hiked back down together, retracing my steps back down through the Petra City Center, the Treasury, through the Siq and back towards the hotel. On the hike back, they informed me that they had witnessed Brent propose to Jocelyn during their morning hike. As they were both huge Indiana Jones fans, this explained their motive to dress up as the characters from the movie this morning at breakfast. Before heading back, we needed to find some much deserved lunch. After checking out some of the restaurants near the Visitor's Center, we made the decision to hail a taxi back up to Wadi Musa to find the same schawarma shop from yesterday. Thankfully, I had taken a photo of the restaurant while we were there. We found a taxi who funny enough had just come back from taking someone back up to the same restaurant that we were going to. It must have been someone else from our tour. We would later learn that it was Mark who had the same craving for the delicious schawarma as we did. After getting our schawarmas, we returned to the hotel to eat our lunch, wash up, and take a much deserved rest.

With the rest of the afternoon to kill, Kevin and I ventured back up to the rooftop terrace to enjoy a few beers. We found out that Patrick got a room at the fancier Movenpick Hotel nearby for the sole purpose of using it's swimming pool. He had invited us to come down and enjoy the pool with him. We initially had good intentions of meeting up with him but Kevin and I just hung out at the rooftop terrace drinking more beers then eventually making our way back to the Visitor's Center to hunt for a few souvenirs. The entire group had a subpar dinner that night at a nearby restaurant and immediately thereafter, headed back over to the Treasury for the very popular Petra by Night tour. Having walked this pathway through the Siq now for the fifth time in just over 24 hours, I was getting a little tired of it. However, it was an interesting perspective walking through the Siq in the dark as it was lined with candles and lanterns. Once we got to the Treasury, it was absolutely gorgeous as it was lit up by floodlights and with hundreds of candles adding to the ambience. We were all gathered together and cramped in as tightly as we could. I found a spot in the back against a rock and enjoyed listening to the storytelling and the traditional Bedouin music that was being played. Of course, it wouldn't be Jordan without the mint tea that they were serving. In all honesty, it was a bit boring and I caught myself falling asleep a few times but it was all worth it if nothing more than seeing the Treasury all lit up. After the show, I made a bee-line out of there as I wasn't feeling well and just wanted to head back to the hotel to call it a night.

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