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Petra!

We actually got into Petra on the evening of Day 2, but then Day 2 was technically Day 3 since Day 1 was the day of arrival. And since Day 1 was where we merely got picked up and taken to the hotel I don’t really feel like I should count it in the descriptions of each day’s adventure(s). Confused? Good.

We arrived at the Petra Moon Hotel in time for supper and we opted for the roof-top restaurant for Kebab. Having had a full day of stops and touring we felt like all we wanted was a shower, clean non-sweaty clothes, and to go nowhere! It was lovely. The food was tasty and the view of the sunset worth staying in for the night.

The room we had was spacious, the view again was no real splendour – a back area of the hotel into the next building. But since there was the roof top and all of Petra it wasn’t that big of a deal to not have a view of the town. The staff was kind and courteous. The first night there we were joined by a group of American college aged students. And yes, the term ugly American tourist crossed my lips as they slammed doors, talked loudly in the hallway, and carried on until about 2 in the morning. There are those that might come to the defence of the young, but seriously now! I became a grumpy old woman that night! “You’re not in Panama City, Florida on Spring break with hotels full of other rowdy college students. You’re in a foreign country in a hotel with guests who have paid money to actually sleep – SLEEP! Not be kept awake by obnoxious “children” who have no clue how to conduct themselves in an hotel! GRRrrr!!”

The morning’s breakfast was buffet and basic and sparse. I was disappointed. Not that I was expecting the opulence of the Intercontinental, but the offerings were very few and not particularly flavourful. I stick with toast which had to go through the industrial toaster three times before the bread even resembled toast. These things don’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. We knew the hotel was basic and not 4 or 5 star rated. We weren’t really looking for that when booking through the agency. However, a good breakfast goes a long way in my book in making a stay memorable or just bleh. So, we ate our basic breakfast which was enough to fill us up for the day ahead of us. So with several litres of water in tow, cameras, walking poles, and sturdy shoes – off we went…

Our driver met us in the morning and walked us down to get our tickets (2 day passes) and connect us up with our guide for the walk-through. We bargained for a pair of sunglasses for AEB since she’d forgotten she might need a pair. Then we were off on our tour of Petra!

Nothing can prepare you for the experience of being there in person. I will post pictures and they will be reminders of our adventure there, but they cannot possibly capture the grandeur, the artistry, and the ingenuity of the place – they just can’t. Our guide was very fluent with his English and was able to carry on conversations beyond his knowledge of Petra, something not all English speaking guides are capable of doing. He was also good with our girl, which was another bonus point for him. He was very good about including her in his description and explanation of the things that we stopped to admire and explore.

There was so much to see even before reaching the passage leading into the heart and up to the Treasury of Petra.

As the heat of the day increased we appreciated being in the passage where there was a breeze and shade to steel us for the sun once we reached the Treasury.

The anticipation of when you are getting closer to the Treasury and that first glimpse is delicious. It’s the only word for it. Which curve will it be around? Will it be this one? The next one? Finally, it’s there! You’re getting the first small peek at a monument that you’ve seen in pictures in history books, in films, etc. but it’s all just tiny in comparison to the view in person.

You stop, you take your first moment photos and then you walk forward ever aware that what you are about to be confronted with is epic.

Then it’s time to continue on! There’s more! So much more. It goes on and on and each new curve begins some new carving, some new building, some new splendour of the past.

And as you think you’re starting to come to the end, you find out you’re not. You start down the Colonnade Street and pass along un-excavated parts that hold their own secrets. There’s a temple and the remains of a theatre and it goes on.

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the colonnade with the temple above

We stopped at the Basin, the place where you think “surely this is the end”. But no! It’s just the beginning of other things to explore. We decided to hold off and leave the other for the next day. Mum thought it would be a good idea to take donkeys back up to the Treasury. So she negotiated/bargained like these guys had never experienced. She reminded me of Amelia Peabody of the mystery series by Elizabeth Peters as she looked over the animals and told the man why she didn’t want that donkey, but this one would be better and that he ought to know better and take better care of his animals! Then we rode back up to the Treasury…

We took our time walking back up the passage to the start of the trail into Petra from the front gate.

It was a long day, but at the end of it was a dip in the roof top pool for AEB and myself and then we met our driver to be taken to enjoy a Turkish Bath!

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! I don’t know how many of you have ever experienced a Turkish Bath. I had only heard of them and imagined them to be a decadent indulgence. We were exhausted from the long day of hiking and thought it might be nice to treat ourselves, youngest to oldest got to enjoy it! We first started with traditional tea. This particular blend had all sorts of spices added, but we forgot to add sugar so it was a bit more intense than it might have been had we remembered. After our tea we were taken upstairs and met by a lovely woman with little English and handed a piece of cloth about half the size of a single bed flat sheet. We were to strip down and wrap ourselves up in the cloth and then wait for the next step. AEB started to feel uncomfortable, but she managed all right. We were led back into a room filled with steam, it was very hard to see where we were heading. We were then led into a tiny room with a stove and pipe letting out rivers of steam! Mum and I could hardly see each other and we were sitting side-by-side! The steam was turned up and the heat was intense! Wow! breathing was starting to become a problem. AEB started to get claustrophobic and she walked out, which turned out to be the best thing for her. The woman that was giving the bath was a Syrian refugee and her daughter, about our girl’s age, was there helping. So, the two girls enjoyed each other’s company while the mum and grammy got steamed like lobsters. Just as the heat was getting to the point where we thought we might pass out there came a dousing of water through the doorway. It was quite the shock. Then came another and another. It felt wonderful and jarring all at once. We were then brought out and told to sit on a slab of marble which was above a steam vent so it was hot, but water was poured on it to cool it down. We were motioned to lay back and enjoy the heat and the cool. AEB helped pour water around us to keep us warm but not too hot. Then Mum was loofa-ed down, which she said was more like sandpapered down and then taken to another room for a short massage. Once it was my turn I can agree that the loofa experience was more like being treated to a fine sandpapering with a vigorous hand rather than a soft touch. On the one hand it felt great, but the next few days had us feeling rather raw. The massage was very vigorous. Never having had a Swedish massage I cannot compare it, but it was definitely a workout. While she worked on my tight muscles from the day’s hike we chatted as much as we could between poundings and her pigeon English. She’s been in Jordan for five years. She had to leave Syria because of the conflict. She is grateful to have work and her family with her, but she misses her home. My heart breaks for her and all the others displaced by fighting. People don’t want to have to leave their homeland. They want to stay and live in peace. But others make that impossible and so they have to leave. She’s lucky to have found a country that welcomed her and her family. She’s lucky to have found work. Others wait in camps stilling hoping for better. We are so fortunate! We all left feeling very clean and very invigorated. I’m not sure I will ever indulge in a Turkish Bath again, but I’ll never forget the one I had in Petra.

We went back to the hotel and had dinner on the roof top once again. It was by request from our girl and sometimes you just do it. It was just as tasty the second night as the first.

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