Best thing: Riding the Camels in Petra to the Monetary. Yay camels!!
Worst thing: Having to walk back down on foot from the Monastery
Well this week I got to do something amazing, I got to go to Petra! The trip started with a 3 hour drive and of course we get pulled over 4 times on the way. I swear it wasn’t because I was driving a “little” fast. More like they are just checking ID’s. It’s always funny though because as soon as we stop, they see we are a bunch of Americans and they just smile and wave us on. Some try to talk with us but with the language barrier, nothing’s happening.
We finally get there and what? It’s 50 JOD to get in? That’s like 80 bucks. Luckily, it was well worth it and I would totally go again. We start off by walking down a path that’s shared with guys with horses. They assure us if our ticket has a hole punched into it, the rides free. Well every ticket has a hole in it. One in our group did end up riding the horse and guess what, the horse dude wanted a $50 dollar trip for walking besides/leading the horse for less than a mile. Yep, no thank you.
After the horse trick, you start walking in a narrow canyon. Now this is pretty awesome. The city was built in this area so if you are travelling to it, you can only take this path which means no large armies and you are vulnerable from above. Every once in a while a horse driven carriage passes by and with the smell of horse shit, you can actually feel like how it did long ago.
Towards the end of the canyon, it opens up dramatically. At first you can’t make out anything because of the bright light, but eventually the full Treasury comes into view and the area is packed with tourists, sellers, camels, and even some roman soldiers. It was a dramatic difference from 5 minutes ago and over all the commotion I thought I heard “You must choose, but choose wisely. For as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”
At the treasury, we tried doing a little bargaining and ended up scoring us some camels for the 3 mile walk down to the restaurant for 8 JOD (about 10 bucks). Now I’ve tried to ride a camel before and let’s say it didn’t go so well, but I was in luck and these were nice camels. Of course I had to get some videos of my camel riding success which meant I miss a lot of the scenery down.
Once we arrived at our destination, of course our camel guide explained that if we wanted to venture to the great Monastery, that it was another 3 miles up a bunch of stairs. And how hard it was to do when it was so hot but he knew how to get some donkeys for us for cheap. Well long story short, for another 8 JOD we traded our camels for cute little sad donkeys.
The climb up was really cool, even when the occasional donkey tried to kill us by slipping, or crashing into a vendor, or going completely off the path for no good reason. Was a first for me, never rode a donkey but soon became quite the expert.
At the top we enjoyed the huge view of the monastery, enjoyed some lemon-mint tea and hookah.
Conserving our energy for the walk down we said goodbye to the sad brave little ponies and started out way back. It would be a treacherous journey, past many crafty and sneaky vendors that tried to lure us in with the chants “Everything 1 JOD!” and “You promised to stop and buy!” Some of the party fell for these tricks but luckily I remained strong. Well I did buy a cool scarf.
On the way back to the Treasury, we got to see some of the sights that we missed on our camel ride. We did have a couple lazy folks who opted to ride the camels back to the start but two of us decided walking was fine. The Treasury was just as breath taking as before once we got to it.
After we left, I did a quick TripAdvisor check and found a fantastic little café to recharge and get some grub. It was Three Steps Café and I would totally recommend it. I got the lamb chops and they were excellent. The drive back home was pretty uneventful, minus a cool detour. We didn’t even get pulled over once.
Petra was so much more than I expected. I would gladly pay another 50 JOD to visit again, there is just so much to see. Apparently in the late 1800’s an earthquake destroyed a bunch of arches and housing. I can only imagine what it looked like originally. If you ever get the chance to do Petra, don’t hesitate and just do.