I had read about Petra in Agatha Christie’s (Am a big fan!) “Appointment with Death” … It was nice to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of THE premier tourist attractions in the World.
It is tough to have a more adventurous trip to Petra than the one I took. During a glorious week in Jordan, I had set aside a day for a trip to Petra. I had rented a car (with Driver, who was a very helpful Iraqi guy who had settled in Jordan) during my stay in Jordan. The day of the Petra adventure, we started early from Amman. It is a 4hr drive to Petra. For the first two hours, it was still dark and there was no scope for sightseeing. But the second half of the drive was highly enjoyable with great desert views. As we got closer to Petra, I could see the “touristy” nature of Petra with various Hotels and establishments catering to the millions of tourists.
Because it was December, Jordan was pretty cold while I was there. For E.g. When I went to Mount Nebo, I could barely move my fingers due to the wind chill. Actually, it was funny when I landed in Queen Alia International Airport wearing Bermudas. Bermudas is my “Go-To” attire during travels and I was thinking “How severe could a Winter in the Middle-East be?” (ANSWER: Pretty Severe! :-)).
As we got closer to Petra, I noticed that it was quite overcast and a slight rain had started. The ticket counter was almost empty (What!?) and I wondered “WHY” … Even though it was slightly raining and I had my DSLR and its attachments and it was quite chilly, I had a nice walk down Siq, the narrow entrance to the complex. I tried to visualize what life would have been like in 300 B.C. During this walk, I noticed a tourist couple who had hired a local guide. Other than us, there was no one around … WHY?
Then I came on to Al-Khazneh, more famously known as “The Treasury” … It was a wonderful sight. I could see several Camels around (Locals were offering Camel rides through the vast Petra complex). After spending around 30-45min gazing at the Treasury, I started walking towards the Royal Tombs … By now, it was raining proper and I had to take shelter every few minutes. Since I definitely wanted to visit Ad Deir (“The Monastery”), which required a decent climb up the stairs, I wanted to avoid getting fully soaked right off the bat. After exploring several of the tombs, I saw a guy climbing up a path and thinking it was the way to The Monastery, I followed him (Could not ask him as he was quite ahead of me). It turned out to be the way to the High Palace of Sacrifice, Garden Temple Etc. It took me an hour to climb up, see the views, and make my way down. While coming down, due to the rains, I had to be careful not to slip and fall.
It was cold, I was wet, and it was quite strenuous!
By the time I reached the point from where the climb to The Monastery begins, I got my second wind and my determination took over and I felt very energetic again 🙂 Using my expertise in Stair-Climbing, I climbed up to The Monastery in what I would call myself “Excellent Time”. Alas, by this time it was raining heavily and I could not spent too much time at The Monastery … To boot, some heavy fog had started coming in as well.
When I reached back to The Treasury area, to my surprise I saw water (Cold water!) flowing down the Siq … The guys tending the Camels were obviously happy as they saw a great chance at ripping off a tourist (Me!) with a ride back to the Visitor Center. The cold water was almost knee deep … Since I was already soaked and since I did not want to give the guides the pleasure of ripping me off, I started walking against the flow of water and after a 1hr struggle, reached the Visitor Center safely. The Driver was taking a nap in the car (Nice way to pass time on a cold and rainy day :-)) … The Driver informed me that Amman/Petra area of Jordan is about to experience “One of the worst snow-storms of the past century” and what we were seeing was a precursor to that. The mystery solved … It explained the lack of other tourists, the rains, the cold Etc. I guess I should have scrutinized the weather forecast better 🙂 I stripped off my T-Shirts and slept all the way back to Amman … By the time we reached Amman, I had dried off.
Overall, though the weather was bad, I had a great time at Petra.