Amman & Petra, Jordan

I didn't have a hotel reservation setup in Amman and none of the hotels in the guidebook seemed great so I decided to treat myself the last few days of my vacation and go back to the Marriott. They had a special on that basically made the cost half what it normally was ~$65 US/night including breakfast. This was a fair bit more than I had been spending but the Marriott was a five star hotel and worth every penny.

I went down to the Concierge and asked them what the easiest way to get to Petra was. I was planning on heading there the next day for 2 or 3 days. It turned out their was a JETT bus (Jordan's national bus service, similar to greyhound) leaving at 6am and returning at 830 pm the next night. Cost was about $15 US. The concierge assured me that one day in Petra was probably sufficient and reluctantly agreed to go just for the day. I was hoping I wouldn't regret it and I didn't. One day was sufficient time to see everything I wanted to see.

On the bus ride down I met a Jordanian guy the same age as me who was a teacher in Amman. He had never been to Petra before and was going down for the weekend. I also met an American girl who was travelling through Jordan, Israel and Palestine. The three of us spent the day together wandering through Petra.

Petra was amazing and without a doubt the highlight of my trip. This city was built by the Nabataeans with help from the Romans 2000 years ago. The earliest settlements were around 7000 BC but the "modern" city was developed at the beginning of the first millenium.

It is hard to describe Petra except to say that it is incredible and I have never seen anything like it before in my life. The pictures can't begin to describe how amazing it is and I would highly recommend visiting it too everyone. Almost none of the buildings are freestanding. Instead they have all been carved into the sandstone cliffs. The level of detail and intricacy that is absolutely amazing even after 2000 years.

Petra involves a lot of hiking and walking so be prepared. From the ticket wicket it is about 1/2 a mile to the Siq which is the narrow gorge (6 ft - 30 ft wide, walls up to 600 ft high on either side) that leads into the city of Petra. The Siq is about 3/4 of a mile long and is spectacular. The Nabataeans even paved the path with cobblestones.

The first sight you see upon exiting the Siq is the Al-Khazneh or the Treasury. This is the building made famous at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

From the Treasury to the far end of Petra is about 2 miles with many hikes up and down on either side of the main road to see everything.

Other highlights of Petra were the Royal Tombs and the Monastery. The Monastery took about an hour to hike up to and has over 800 steps carved into the rock to help you climb up there. By the end of the day everyone was exhausted and looking forward to the 3.5 hr bus ride back to Amman.

Unfortunately the bus kept breaking down. From what I could gather we were leaking either clutch, brake or transmission fluid because we had to stop several times while the bus driver added more fluid. Finally an hour and a half late we were back in Amman and after a great dinner at the Marriott I was sound asleep.

The next day I changed my flight so that I could leave that night. It had been an amazing trip but I was definitely ready to head home at this point.

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