We wrapped up our third day of exploring Petra today. 17 hours of pounding in Petra over 3 days takes a toll, but the remarkable splendor of this mystical city is worth every blistered toe and sunburned cheek. Petra is truly phenomenal, a must see for any visitor to Jordan, if only for 1 day.
Another late start today, but we finally check out of the Palace Hotel in Amman around 10am, and by 11:00 we’re on the Desert Highway headed to Wadi Musa, the town next to Petra. Desert Highway is 1 of 3 major highways running north/south through Jordan, the other 2 being the King’s Highway and the lightly used Dead Sea Highway. The Desert Highway is the most direct to Petra, however, and actually a comfortable 2 ½ hour drive along smooth roads. The Jordan desert is dry, expansive, and barren as you’d imagine. Little to see, and few notable landmarks, save for the occasional herd of sheep or goats being led by a Bedouin man.
The plan for these trips always includes getting an early start. And, if an early start is hitting the streets at 11am, then I’ve never failed in my planning. So it is today when, after a restless night for myself (and a sound sleep for the still tired Amanda), we finally manage to get out the door. The Palace Hotel, decent but strictly a budget joint, can at least boast of a favorable location for seeing the sites of Amman on foot. Just like last night, when we happened upon the Roman Theatre only a few blocks away, this morning we find ourselves only a 10 minute walk (according to the receptionist) from the Citadel, an ancient site perched on the highest hill in Amman, Jebel al-Qala’a.
Amanda arrived from Tokyo yesterday around noon, an hour late and predictably tired and hungry after 3 connections and 15 hours cramped in coach. A cooler day than we expected, we donned our jackets and headed out for a quick walking tour of downtown. Grimy and bleak, the hills that comprise downtown Amman are cramped with grey concrete buildings, many in various states of disrepair. The west side of Amman, with its more modern buildings and cosmopolitan feel, is lauded as the “better” part of town. But today we’re downtown, and one doesn’t have to be in Amman long to realize the people make the city. Friendly and curious, quick to ask where you’re from, and to welcome you to Jordan – you might even be challenged to an arm-wrestling contest (I’m 3-0 so far). “Are you going to Petra?” is a question that finds its way into every conversation, as everyone is clearly proud of Jordan’s greatest treasure.