Monday, May 01, 2006

I DISCOVERED PETRA (JORDAN)

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The excursion started at Sharm el Sheik (Egypt) See map. Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
I wanted to spend ten days in Egypt at the red sea. Just to cut this long and wet winter off and taking some sunshine. For that the red sea is a wonderfull place, it's mostly for divers or for people looking for the same as me. There is nothing historical or intellectual do discover, only the blue sea and colorfull fishes and of course the desert.

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The red sea looks very blue ! When my girlfriend proposed an excursion to Petra, I didn't even know what she was talking about. Never heard of it. But when she told me that it was in Jordan and there were organized Bus excursions, I immediately was all for it. I didn't care what it was, the idea going on a ferry to Jordan was for enough reason. 

And so we left in a nice aircondionned bus at 4 am. The Bus took 2 hours to Taba, famous for the last bomb attack in Egypt (sad to say) but the drive was so interesting, going through the desert and high mountains, a very rough Landscape. Still to be discovered by tourists ! Arriving in Taba's habour, we were checked by the egyptian police got a visa for Jordan and went on the small ferry boat. There was room for about 100 people. The ferry was very nice, the captain funny and made a lot of jokes about arabs and the just in front is Israel.

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This is THE spot where I saw four countries : Egypt in front, Israel to the left and Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the right.
One moment he slowed down the ferry and told us that we were now on the spot of 4 borders. And indeed, turning around I saw Egypt in front, , Israel to the right and Jordan and Saudia Arabia to the left. Impressing. The Saudie Arabian flag moved slowly in the wind and the israelian warships were laying a little farer quite fearfull to us.
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They really spoiled this beautifull landscape, the high rocky mountains and the blue sea. It just didn't fit. It looked like a well guarded fortress. The other countries only had the blue sea. We saw the houses of Elad (Israel) and the captain told us that many Jordans are working over there. It's really very close.

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Elad well protected
When we arrived, we were welcomed by friendly policemen and one took all our passports away. Some of us looked quite alarmed, perhaps they thought they have to stay. All the locals greeted us with big smiles and of course with all kind of stuff to sell. But we had to hurry to our waiting bus, who took us to Petra.
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Habour of Aquaba (Jordan)
2000 years ago Petra was the capital of the nabataean Kingdom. Nobody knows exactly when the history of Petra began. May be in 312BC. Even today, there is a lot to discover and Petra is still hiding many secrets. When we were there some places were closed because of searchings. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So it started, quite easy walk.
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the pavement was from the old romans. But our feet were not used to that ! After a long walk through a narrow gorge in between red cliffs, the blue sky above us we finally at the end saw something beautifull, never seen .... ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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coming out of the gorge .... the most beautifull temple hewn directly out of the sandstone cliff. It almost took our our breath away ...
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You never would think finding such carved monuments in the middle of a rocky desert !
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A little further on we discovered a massive theatre, so placed as to bring the greatest number of tombs within view; and at the point where the valley opens out into the plain the site of the city is revealed with striking effect. Almost enclosing it on three sides are rose-coloured mountain walls, divided into groups by deep fissures, and lined with tombs cut from the rock in the form of towers.
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and the wonderfull, amazing colors of the rocks
We have been told that all the native features you could see are partly egyptian and partly greek.
Petra was completely forgotten over centuries until in 1812 it was rediscovered by a swiss traveller, named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. For the public and tourists the town was opened only in 1995.
On December 6, 1985 Petra was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.Petra also served as background to several movies : the setting in Agatha Christie's crime novel "Appointment with the Death" and its theatrical adaptation.
Exterior shots of the Treasury were used in the closing scenes of "Indiana Jones " and the "Last Crusade". The interior however, does not match up to the movie.
It has also appeared in several other movies, including 1977's "Sindbad" and the"Eye of the Tiger" and 2000's "Arabian Nights".It also appears in the music video of the song "Dominion", by gothic rock band" The Sisters of Mercy.The interior set for the Paths of the Dead in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Ring" and "Return of the King" was inspired by the rockface architecture of the city of Petra
I have to admit that I never follow a guide and listen to his explanations. While he is talking like a soft waterfall and people are almost hanging at his lips, I walk around and look, see, watch, admire and touch (if allowed) I talk to the people when they spoke english and learned much more that way. Historical stuff I always could read afterwards at home. Being there myself was much more important.
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old woman in Petra
Of course we immediately were surounded by women and children who offered us stones, coins, and old pieces of pottery. It's forbidden, but they found out that tourists are crazy about that and as it is just laying in front of their door ...
There were guards watching if somebody would sell something, but they always found a way.
I had taken some stuffed animals and color pens with me remembering the kids during our cruise on the Nile. And I really were successfull ! For a stuffed dog I got a wonderfull stone showing all the colors of the rocks, and for two dolphins I got two marvelous pieces of old pottery, with the head of some king on one and an old design on the other. In a few years that will be impossible. But here the tourism just began.
I was not ashamed either of my nice bargain, because if it wasn't me, an other tourist would have taken it with pleasure.
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The camel and I, we have the same look !
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On the way back we took a colorfull carriage, haggled for the price and then the guy speeded us through the rocks on the old roman cobble stones. I really was worried about the poor horse's legs. But apparently the horse was also in a hurry and wanted probably go home. We were shaken through all our bones ! But it was fun.
We stopped in Aquaba for an hour and could visit this very modern town. What we have seen could be any big city, the only difference was that some women, not many and mostly the eldests, were wearing a veil, or a scarf. After Petra we found that quite disappointing and were just walking up the main street and then climbed in the bus again.
By now it was dark and far after 10 p.m and one couldn't see anything from the ferry besides the lights of Elahd and Aquaba. Not even the warships, they probably hid in the dark.
And this was the end of our excursion to Petra. This will remain for ever in my mind. As there were not yet so many tourists, we really could appreciate everything. But I am sure every year there will be more tourists.
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Flowers growing in the rocks

14 comments:

Kuanyin said...

Beautiful photos and great commentary...mahalo for being my travel guide to these gorgeous places so I can be an armchair adventurer. Blessings, Kuanyin

From Belgium with love said...

How I love photo's from Petra ... they are simply great !

Caledonia said...

You are so lucky, Gattina, Petra is a wonderful place. A real hidden treasure. I did a lot of research on that place last year for a project I was working on!

Chase said...

You are indeed lucky to visit one of the most beautiful spots on earth!

A. said...

Wonderful! Petra is one of the places I'd really love to visit. I'm quite sure in real life it's even better than in photos, and they are wonderful!

Puss-in-Boots said...

What an amazing place, Gattina and you've described it so well, I felt I was there.

How much work and time to carve that beautiful building out the rock! It's a real work of art, isn't it?

I have put that on my list of places to see when I start doing my travels...thank you for the photos and interesting commentary.

Debbie said...

Gattina this is a wonderful posting. Thanks for sharing your story but mostly for the pictures. They are quite spectacular. You have an eye for a great shot and your description really bring it to life.

Petra sounds like a very special place indeed!

Pamela said...

You have the most amazing adventures. How I would love to come along.

Petra is beyond imagination!

Lifecruiser said...

Great, you're getting use of some old posts too, perfect!

What a place. Incredible. I just love these kind of unexpected excursions and attractions. It's the best kind.

Jeanette said...

Hi Gattina, lovely photo's and great commentry of your trip I feel i was there with you.,its amazing the flower growing out the rocks and that building carved out of the rock.. take care..

vlado&toni said...

Thanks for the trip. I have a feeling I have seen Petra in a movie before. I am not sure though which one. Thanks for the infomation about Petra. By the way, I am also like you in those trips with the travel guide talking and talking, I just do my own thing and that is more interesting.

SwordMama said...

You always see such the most magical places!! I'm gonna visit more tomorrow to get a more in depth reading 'cos I've run out of time for the day. lol

claudie said...

You did really a marvelous trip! I'm sure The Sarkenstein took many poteries when nobody saw him! I want to go there!

Torsten said...

Ein schöner Blog mit tollen Fotos. Besonders die Bilder von Petra lassen mich in Erinnerungen schwelgen!

Liebe Grüße

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About Me

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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