Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra, Jordan are referred to as “The Golden Triangle.” Crossing into Jordan from Eilat, Israel only required showing my passport eight times. We pass through Aqaba, the only coastal city in Jordan situated at the northeastern tip of the Red Sea. Aqaba has been inhabited since 4000 BC because of the strategic location of trading routes between Asia, Africa and Europe. For a moment, I still feel as if I’m in Israel except the giveaway is all the signs are in Arabic only while in Israel the signs are in Arabic, Hebrew and English. The long stretch of highway to begin our trek to Petra awaits us. I have a big smile on my face as I see groups of black, white and tan sheep roaming on the side of the road, thirty or more and sometimes only five to six. Random goats on the side of the paved road while a sun bronzed man rides a white donkey, slapping his hand on the donkey’s neck. At eight thirty in the morning, I already have to strip off my thick sweatshirt, which I needed earlier. I’m hard wired for new experiences, for getting out of my comfort zone and this awakens me.
I’ve been dreaming of visiting and photographing Petra for many years. I came to Israel two years ago and had the one day trip set to visit but a flu struck most of the tiny country including myself. I see tumbleweed, sage-like bushes, a lone tree now and then. In the near distance, I see a group of brown and black goats with mountains. I haven’t slept in six nights and I’m hoping the ride will lull me to sleep but I don’t want to miss a goat-herd sighting. The two hour drive in the desert is quieting and then the arrival at Petra. Petra is much more than what you see in the Indiana Jones movie. It was originally meant to be a cemetery, where the rich had a place carved into the stones. The Nabateans, clever and practical people, turned it into a trading city and until the Romans invaded, it was thriving for hundreds of years. Paved roads, agricultural terraces, water harvesting systems, artwork, temples, even theatres. They were open to all cultural influences and if you look at any carved monument, you see the influence of Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Graeco-Roman, all fused into a grand unified network. I love the camels and find their faces fascinating.
Lunch midday in Petra was a delicious mix of vegetables, rice, potatoes. I found the food in Petra yummy everywhere I ate.
UNESCO has named this a World Heritage Site since 1985. This rose-red city is a must see before you die. Here are some additional shots from my day in this 8th wonder of the world.
The Amra Palace hotel was full of surprises at every turn. For a mere 13 JD- Jordanian Dollar, which is US $18, there was a Turkish bath, steam room, body scrub, complete massage followed by a cup of tea in the Turkish bath and a giant pool that I had all to myself. After walking through Petra all day with camera gear, I was aching and the treatment helped me to finally sleep after seemingly endless jet lag.
I woke up to an incredible breakfast selection. Four types of homemade yogurt; strawberry, blueberry, plain and vanilla with dates and figs from the desert, which I view from outside the window in my hotel. A cook is making perfectly round mini pancakes. Apple, oranges, apricots, grapefruits, cheeses, tomato, cucumber, hummus in a dining room of marble pillars overlooking a garden of hibiscus flowers. Trip Advisor has given the Amra Palace Hotel a certificate of excellence and so do I.