Live at Red Rocks (Under a Blood Red Sky)

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Now that England have crashed and burned from the World Cup it's time to move on and make our way to the main attraction in Jordan (for us, anyway). The hotel seems to have an array of drivers available at short notice and so we booked one of them to drive us down the Kings Highway to Petra via Wadi Mujib and Karak. It’s quite a trek, requiring a fairly early departure to get us to Petra in good time. Wadi Mujib is Jordan’s rival to the Grand Canyon and we stopped on it’s upper edge to admire the panorama and take a few pictures. The view is quite spectacular and despite being "only" 1km deep it gives a greater feeling of depth than the Grand Canyon.

Our arrival in Karak rather coincided with lunchtime, but we opted for sightseeing over sustenance and made our way to the entrance. Karak is a walled city more famously known for its ancient crusader castle than the city itself. The castle is quite vast, fairly well preserved, and sits perched on a rocky outcrop above the city, presumably unassailable by design. A fun hour was spent exploring the depths of its underground rooms and admiring the scenery from the tops of the walls. Alex was particularly intrigued by the story of one crusader who took great delight in torturing prisoners before throwing them off of the walls to their death (a mere 450m drop). Apparently he even went to the trouble of having a wooden box fitted around their heads so that they wouldn’t lose consciousness before hitting the ground … charming! After strolling through some of the sidestreets surrounding the castle, we found a very pleasant small restaurant and had a quick lunch before setting off down the highway to Petra.

Upon arrival in Petra we decided to abandon our plans for “Petra by Night” or the two day ticket in favour of seeing the sunset over Petra, a leisurely dinner and watching the Brazil-Chile game in a bar known as “The Cave”. An apt name for a bar literally located inside a 3000 year old Nabataean-created cave.

With much to see and do before our return taxi to Madaba, we arrived at the gate eager to see the wonders of Petra. The day started badly when we discovered that we weren’t allowed to buy the 21JD entrance ticket, but had to buy a 33JD combination ticket which included a horse ride from the gate to the Siq, a group guide and some other equally unwanted “features”. After being herded through the entrance gate we were practically pushed off a platform onto four waiting horses for transfer ride to the Siq. Once at the Siq, we dismounted whereupon the horse handlers had the cheek to try to demand a tip for the horses and extra for the “free” kids rides! Needless to say they got the rough edge of Derek’s tongue instead of the Dinars they were angling for and it was a shame to start our tour of Petra with such unpleasantness. The sad thing is that this behavior is not atypical in this type of situation wherever one travels throughout the World.

The siq is the name given to the long (1.2km) narrow winding crevasse through the rocks which opens out to the spectacular Treasury – the most famous of Petra’s sights; and we weren’t to be disappointed. Emerging from the relative darkness of the siq, the Treasury sits basking in the early morning sunlight, an enormous tomb carved into the sandstone rock, and so named because locals falsely believed that an Egyptian pharaoh had hidden his treasures inside.

From the Treasury we made our way through the street of fascades, past the theatre and the royal tombs, along the street of colonnades, up the long and winding trail and steps to the second most impressive sight at Petra, the Monastery, another massive tomb carved into the rock that was possibly used as a church in the Byzantine period. The trek to the monastery is no mean feat in the heat of a Jordanian summer and despite a few grumbles along the way and while taking on no less than eight litres of chilled water the kids can rightfully feel very proud of their accomplishment ;-)

An unavoidable and amusing experience during any trip to Petra is the incessant attention of the numerous Bedouin touts, most of them youths at best. It goes something like this "Postcard sir? 1 JD? Ok half JD? Bracelet? Donkey to the Monastery? 2 hours walk, 20 minutes by donkey". Note: This exact phrase is used for at least an hour of your walk, so how can it always be 2 hours more by foot?  On the way back down from the Monastery, when Derek was asked by some tired French tourists how far it was to go (it was only 15 mins at this point) he told them "2 hours more walk, but I can get you a donkey?". 

We have to note that, despite the heat, Petra is high up there on our favourites list. It is simply too mysterious, unique, beautiful, rewarding and memorable to relegate to the lower leagues.

The return trek was almost as arduous given our time constraints and the increasing heat, however we made it back to our patiently waiting taxi driver on time and set off on the return to Madaba. It’s been a whirlwind tour of Jordan with a few ups and downs (courtesy of the England football team), but it was well worth the detour…next stop the UK where things are expected to be a little less hectic…..
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Karla on

I love the picture of Sarah waiting for the aliens. Can you say, "Beam me up,

Shirley on

Cool!!! So who are you cheering for Spain or Netherland?

delsar on

Pretty cool ... until she got stuck in the hole!

delsar on

Before the tournament Alex chose Holland and Derek chose Spain, so we have split allegiances - could be fiery!

Shirley on

We're for team Spain.!!!!!

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