Monday, May 13, 2013

Day 2 in Eliat, Day trip to Petra, Jordan

Today started early, a 7:15 am pick up from my hostel for a trip to the ruins in Petra, Jordan.  I had not heard of Petra until I began my tour of Europe, I heard more about Petra when I arrived in Israel, everyone saying it was a must see.  Petra has been voted one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World, from what I read, it was not a scientific vote, regardless, Petra has used its ranking to boost tourism and it has worked.

Our tour picked up people from hotels around Eliat and the airport too.  This was an older group, I do not know if there was anyone under 30 on the tour.  A lot of people I talked to go to Petra on their own, I am traveling independently, decided to take the tour, would have come out about the same if I had gone their alone, and it is always nice to have company.

Our first step in going to Petra was going through the border check between Israel and Jordan, a short drive from Eliat.  The border crossing took at least half an hour, mainly because we had a large group and a number of groups were also crossing the Israeli border into Jordan.

Israeli Border Crossing 

Lynnae after passing Israeli Border into Jordan 
After crossing into Jordan we boarded a new set of buses, really minivans, for our trip to Petra.  We also got a new tour guide, a young Jordanian man who spoke English with an accent most of us could not understand.   I left Petra knowing as much about its history as when I arrived, I could not understand the tour guide's explanations.

The drive from Jordan's border with Israel to Petra took a little over 2 hours, we stopped in the middle of the drive at a shop for a restroom, purchase souvenirs break. I bought some chewy cherry Candy, made in Jordan I think, I could not read the packaging.  The journey to Petra was uneventful except for a minor conflict over the temperature of the van.  The people closest to the A/C in the front row of the van were cold, they turned own the A/C, the man in the back complained, saying there were boiling back there.  I was in the middle row, it was cold, but tolerable, and I am always cold.  The A/C discussion went on for awhile, I am not sure it ever ended.  

Me with Petra Sign 

When we arrived in Petra, we broke up into 2 groups for the tour, some people took the horse drawn carriage, an older American couple did,  instead of walking all the way to the ruins.  Men were constantly asking us if we wanted to take a horse or camel ride into Petra, I cannot count how many times I said, no thank you.    

Our tour guide walked us into the Petra canyon, stopping every few minutes to add commentary, give us the history of the site, I only understood bits and pieces of what he was saying.  I know he said there were flash floods at Petra, I do not know if he said historically or today.  Like with some of the audio tours I have purchased, I gave up on trying to listen closely to everything our guide said, and instead, focused on seeing Petra, enjoying being there with the ancient ruins and the red rock. 

Me at al Khazneh "the Treasury "

Urn Tomb
We were on a one day tour of Petra, I saw the sights, but I did not get a chance to explore all of Petra on this trip, that was OK with me.  I saw people had climbed up some of the ruins, were looking inside, our tour saw the ruins on the mountainside from a distance, we did get up close to Petra's best known, the Treasury. We also saw the Urn Tomb, believed to be the site where Kings and dignitaries were buried. 

Me & Jordanian Man 

After viewing all the ruins, we started our hike back to where the buses dropped us off.  We were all hungry and tired, the sun had drained us.  We were looking forward to getting better shots of the Treasury, there was a crowd the first time we passed it, our guide promised it would be empty on our return.  There were definitely a lot fewer people crowded around the Treasury on our way back, and we took turns taking pictures of each other.

We went to lunch around 3pm, after we had seen all the sights at Petra.  We had all worked up an appetite hiking down into Petra and back out, I was starving by the time we got to the restaurant.  The restaurant was buffet style, I sampled most of the dishes, like with any buffet, some dishes were good, some mediocre.  When we finished lunch it was time to head back to Israel, we were all ready to go, the trip had worn us out.  

I fell asleep a couple of times during the two hour drive back to Israel. The ride was not always smooth, so I was jolted out of my sleep periodically, I think it was the driver, not the roads that made for the jerky ride.  When we got to the border, we went through Jordanian and Israeli checkpoints, I did not have trouble returning to Israel.  I had heard stories about people being detained, I have not had trouble yet, I hope I do not have any.  There were several pictures of former President Clinton with Israeli leaders in the Israeli checkpoint, I took a few pictures of those and then headed to the shuttle waiting for us outside the checkpoint. 

Leaving Jordan heading back to Israel

Picture of former President Clinton at the Israeli Border Crossing
The drive to Eliat from the border crossing was quick, my hostel was the first stop, I did not realize we had arrived.  There were two men staying at the hostel on my bus, I did not realize it because they got on before me this morning, they pointed at me when the bus stopped in front of the hostel, I said bye.  I did not see the hostel, then the driver said, you are staying here too.  I realized this was my hostel, I said bye to everyone and got off the bus.  The men staying at the hostel said they did not think I was going to get off the bus, I told them I did not realize it was our stop.  We all laughed, they said they got on the bus before me this morning, that is why I did not know they were staying there.

I went to the pharmacy after we got back to Eliat, I woke up with a sore throat and a mild cough. I asked the pharmacist what I should take, he gave me a cough syrup that tastes like Robitussin and lozenges for my sore throat.  I had a quiet evening, went out and bought some French fries (they call them chips here) for a snack/dinner, then back to my hostel.  I have nothing on my agenda for tomorrow during the day, I will may do some laundry, tomorrow night, I begin my trip to Cairo & the Pyramids. 

Day Trip to Petra Photo Album 

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