Dead Sea to Petra
What a wonderful day we had today! We reluctantly left the DSSH after having a spectacular breakfast buffet and a final toe dip in the Dead Sea.
Our drive to Petra was to be via the Dead Sea road past Wadi Mujib, Dana Biosphere Reserve, and Shobak Castle (which is Anglicized roughly 12 different ways on any given combo of road signs and maps – just adds to the fun of navigation!). The road along the sea is really nice, as far as views that it, and the road winding up through the mountains is equally lovely with exceptional views over towards Israel and south to Aqaba. Let me briefly clarify however that in referring to drives as lovely, I am always, without fail, speaking of the scenery and never the quality of the actual road and how it drives as this, without fail, is always rather crap!
There was a lot of haze and possibly sand in the air so there really wasn’t much visibility over Dana unfortunately. Time was also marching on so we opted to maximize our time at Shubak and Petra.
Shewbuk was amazing. It’s perched high on a hill overlooking the valley and commands attention even from a distance. It was free to go in for us (not sure that this is always the case) and it’s a short but steep walk from the parking lot up to the entrance. There were two guys dressed up in traditional soldier gear hanging out, one of whom was really keen on dressing us up in the helmet, shield, and sword. We evaded him for most of our visit but couldn’t turn him down in the end. He also pointed us to the tunnel that disappears into the darkened belly of the castle, a purported 365 steps in all, emerging somewhere down the hillside, but for the sake of pressing on to Petra we chose to forego it.
We arrived to Petra around 2:30 and purchased our 2 day ticket (JD55). Passport is needed for this as they charge up to 90JD for visitors who’ve been in the country less than 1 or 2 days I think it is. Highway robbery, if you ask me. Anyhow, pretty much as soon as we set out for the entrance from the ticket booth we were consistently harassed: “Would you like to ride my Ferrari?” “Do you need a guide?” “Looking is free – please look at these souvenirs!” “Hey, take a picture with me!”
In case you were wondering, a Ferrari is a donkey or mule and they are everywhere around Petra being used to haul weary tourists around the expansive site. As two young, female travelers unaccompanied by males, Leah and I might as well have had targets on our banks and flashing neon lights surrounding us drawing every tout and teenage schoolboy in the place to us like magnets. Combined with the heat, dust, and garbage all over, it’s really a bit of an experience ruiner to be honest and by about 5:15 PM, with the light leaving us we decided to call it quits for the day with rather a sour taste in our mouths. I mean, when you’re cooking up plots to escape from the 8th huddle of teenage boys conspiring ways to take a photo with you, you know it’s bad.
We had walked from the front entrance to the base of the Monastery trail and seen the sights along that trail including the famous treasury, Roman theatre and the tombs, and I will say, people and garbage aside, the actual site itself is rather stunning.
On our way out, a beautiful sunset blooming behind us, we noticed two guys coming down from a hill and asked them if it was worth the climb for a sunset pic or two. They said it was so up we scrambled. It was refreshing to get above the madness and the view was worth it.
Our hotel, Saba’a, was a short 5 minute drive from Petra and we were most happy to arrive to a warm welcome (and tea!) from Gail, the owner, and as it turned out, one of the guys we received directions to the sunset from, Dawson.
After such a long and taxing day, a dinner invitation to a buffet with Dawson, from California, and Stefan, from Germany, was just the ticket. Can’t say that I’d go to that buffet again, but the company was lovely, the conversation enjoyable, and it really helped to offset the scuzzier males of the day – thanks guys! 😉