Posts Tagged ‘Petra’

Petra: a how-to guide

The Treasury all to ourselves

My previous post was dedicated to gushing about Petra, a tourist attraction that simply blew me away. But as you can imagine, I’m not alone — over 400,000 tourists visit Petra annually, and if you’ve ever met “tourists”, you’ll know that they are at their worst in big groups. Crowding, shouting, and a general lack of consideration for others is often the rule rather than the exception in these situations. It was the one thing about visiting Petra that I most dreaded, because nothing can ruin your day quite as quickly as being surrounded by a hoard of loud, ignorant, disrespectful people, all vying for the same photographs, the cheapest Coca-Cola, or the cutest sand bottle. But the most amazing thing happened on our visit to Petra: this dreadful hoard simply didn’t appear. We enjoyed a very long, very relaxing day, in relative peace and quiet. Obviously this had a large impact on how wonderful our day at Petra was. How did this happen? Are we just the luckiest travelers around? Or did we do something right? Let me tell you how we “did” Petra, in the hopes that other travelers might have equally wonderful experiences.


The Ancient City of Petra

The Monastery at Petra

Our first stop in Jordan after meeting up with Toon was Wadi Mousa, a small town nestled in one of Jordan’s many fantastic valleys. This valley is special, however, because hidden deep within the sandstone formations at its bottom is the ancient city of Petra. Many of you will be most familiar with Petra from its starring role in the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, where it was used as the setting for the final resting place of the Holy Grail. But let me preface this post by saying this: even if you thought Petra was impressive in that movie, it can’t even hold a candle to the wonder of this place in real life. Petra is more impressive by an order of some magnitude than nearly everything we’ve seen so far in our travels, and that’s saying something. It makes the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela look like the work of amateurs. It even humbles the great Temples of Angkor Wat, and shifts the ruins of Rome and the Great Pyramids of Giza down the list to make room at the top. Petra is, to put it bluntly, awesome. I hope I can do it justice here…