Red Sea Day 6: Jordan and Petra
We woke early, to another beautiful sunny day. We were sleeping so soundly that we did not hear a sound upon MSC Armonia’s departure or arrival. Quite miraculous really. It rings true the saying “wake up to a different port each day” – we certainly were! The distance from Eilat to Aqaba was only 2.2 nautical miles, which really reminded me of the Australian term ‘across the pond’.The first glimpses of Petra through the gorge
Local on horse
The incredible moonscapes
This was indeed a special day, as we were both so excited to be able to actually see and touch the most wondrous site in the world – Petra, Jordan. The road to Petra was excellent, very wide and we hardly noticed the turns, until the last 5km of the mountain pass into Petra (these roads were still excellent though). Along the drive there was so much to see as we passed through little towns and farms. Every small town had a mosque and school. Therefore education and religion is indeed an important part of everyday life.
The atmosphere once we arrived in Petra reminded me a little of Kathmandu, which I had visited about 15 years ago. The weather was slightly cooler and for the first time on the trip I had to put on my jumper. Upon arrival, after ensuring we were stocked up with water, we came across magnificent horses that could be ridden at the entrance to the walk. There were also horse buggies available for hire, but we wanted to relish every moment of our time making foot our preferred choice.
There is so much to see from the moment you enter the world’s richest and largest archaeological site. It is dominated by red sandstone which changes colour according to the light. It was like being in a chocolate box! We were totally mesmerised by this half built, half carved, caravan capital city of the Nabateans. It is totally surrounded by huge mountains, which totally obliterate the sun when walking through the narrow siq. It is interesting to note that inhabitants used to know which way they were travelling when they could not see the sun, from the different markings on the rocks that were protected by the winds.
There was a funny moment when we passed what I would describe as a mini treasury. Brianna turned to me and said “ this is amazing but I thought it would be bigger as all the photos make it look enormous”. When we did reach the iconic site of Petra in Jordan, Brianna had tears in her eyes, and for the first time in my life I felt cold shivers running down my arm. I could not listen to anything the guide was saying as I was in another world. I wanted to embrace and be able to recollect the vision I was witnessing forever. So much has been written about Petra but nothing prepares you for the experience.. How did people prosper, in what may have been one of the wealthiest cities in its day, plus in one of the harshest climates? Petra had a daily supply of fresh water, from an area that merely receives about 6 inches a year. It is an engineering feat in itself, the cisterns and waterways that captured and transported the water to the city. All I can say is if you have not been – do take the opportunity and visit this wondrous place I honestly would not do it justice in trying to describe the amazing wonder of the world.
With a few of the locals
Author: Lynne Clarke is the Managing Director of MSC Cruises (Australia).
MSC Cruises is currently operating 7 night cruises aboard MSC Armonia until March 2013. 10 night fly/cruise packages are available out of Australia or New Zealand that include this cruise. Quote “Pharaohs of the Red Sea” to enquire. Red Sea Cruise only options are available in the 96 Hour Sale which started 28 January 2013.
Stay tuned over the coming days for the rest Lynne Clarke’s Red Sea adventure.