|Today we do Petra! Staying at Movenpick Petra is very convenient - we are right across from the visitor center. Dressed warmly as the forecast is for a cool day (high of 58) we leave the ticket booth for the 700 yd walk past the horses to the beginning of the siq. Our guide, Khaled, explained the history of Petra and the many peoples that have occupied Petra possibly as early as 4th century BC as the Nabataean kingdom. Nabataeans were Nomadic Arabs who invested in the proximity of Petra to the trade routes establishing it as a regional trading hub. It continued to flourish until 1st century AD when the Al-Khazneh (the Treasury) was constructed and the population peaked at 20,000. In approximately 106 AD the Romans invaded and until approximately 700 AD Petra was pretty much abandoned except for goat herders. In 1812 a Swiss explorer rediscovered Petra and the nomadic Arabs (Bedouins) living in caves. In 1985 Petra was declared a UNESCO site and the government forced the Bedouins to relocate to a newly built city (Little Petra). Today there are some 13 families still living in caves.
Along the way the local Bedouin’s are attempting to sell rides on donkeys or horse drawn carts and/or selling postcards or books on Petra. When arriving at the entrance of the siq we now have vendors selling water, ice cream, jewelry plus all of the above. Walking through the Siq is an unbelievable experience with the high walls (some 600 ft), curves with varying widths of pavement, evidence of the ancient water conduit system and some monuments.
At the end of the siq one gets a peak of the Treasury before taking a few more steps where it opens up to a wide vista of the Treasury - one of the many (some 800) monuments that are carved into the rose-colored sandstone. These monuments are mostly facades of tombs of early Nabataeans that have been raided many years ago and are now empty. In addition to the many monuments there is a Roman amphitheater, a Roman colonnaded Street and a very modern restaurant (where we had lunch).
After lunch we headed back through the siq towards the exit and our hotel. Although the trip in to Petra seemed somewhat easy it was mostly a slow downhill saunter thus the exit was mostly uphill (we did a total of 8.2 miles) with the hotel bar now our destination! After a refreshing beer and Diet Coke with a couple on the trip we decided to rest a bit.
We both fell asleep and woke two hours later just in time for dinner! After dinner we were entertained by a group of Bedouins performing typical wedding dances - ultimately numerous women ended up on the dance floor. Time to retire to pack for travels to Wadi Rum and the Clio!. JC