Woke up in Petra, excited to start the day....
We took our hotel van to the site, got our tickets, and began our full day of exploration at one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The anticipation was at an all-time high. You are greeted at the entrance by lots of local bedouin men and boys trying to sell you rides on their horses to the base of the hike- which really wasn't far at all so, we decided to walk it- and it was such a beautiful day out. We kept saying how hot this place must be in the summer because the winter is so nice! Once at the base of the siq, or crack in the stone, which starts your walk toward the first sight in Petra, it took about 30 minutes on pathways through this stunning stone crevasse to the Treasury. Locals, Nabatean bedouins, are the people who currently live right here inside Petra, but its been populated as early as the 4th century BC when it was a trade route, which generated a lot of wealth- the locals obviously excelled at stone carving, and hence, Petra was born...
We rode these camels around the facade of Al Khazneh- or the treasury. You can't go inside, unless you're a local bedouin, so we took in as much of the grand exterior as we could. It was massive and the scope of it was as overwhelming as you can imagine. I wore my Nikes for ease of walking and leggings under my dress. The combo was perfect and so comfortable.
The bedouins would take you on the shortened 10-minute hike, if you paid them a little. Worth it to avoid the 1.5 hour hike and catch the morning sunlight! We hiked up/tried to keep up with a little boy that took us to a tent up above the treasury here. From up high, you got an excellent view of the site, but could also see the many bedouin tents set up for actual residents right on the top of the mountains. I cannot wrap my head around living up here- it was fascinating to see.
We then walked by the theater, followed by the loooong walk to the Monastery, or El Deir. The locals told us the walk was about an hour and a half and we were asked many many times along the way if we wanted to ride a donkey to the top instead (for a price). We were tempted because my heel had a massive blister on it, but I took my shoe half off and we ended up walking the entire way. I am sooo glad we did. The walk was really beautiful and passed so quickly. I always feel like earning a view makes it that much more valuable when you reach it- this was definitely the case with the monastery. It felt like it was in the middle of nowhere- peaceful, quiet and stunning.
We climbed a rock overlooking the monastery and just sat and relaxed and took it in. Favorite moment for sure. And we were almost entirely alone- there was hardly a soul around! We stopped on the way back for a quick drink and then finished the walk back. I didn't even know Brian was snapping these pics behind me as I was going- I'm so glad he caught the feeling of this magical place.
After Petra, we went back to a local restaurant and ate a late lunch. Then, we waited for our tour bus to come and take us to our next stop...the Wadi Rum, or The Valley of the MOON. "The Martian" was shot here, and you can see why. It looks like another planet, quite literally. We stayed in a funky little hotel with permanent tents for rooms. They had a small hike to the top of this huge rock on the grounds, where Brian and I hiked up and he was able to catch the night sky with all of its amazing stars- a sight you don't ever see in NYC.
The next morning we woke up and Faris, this totally awesome bedouin and tour guide, showed us around a small part of what his family has called home for many generations . Faris lives in a tent with no running water or electricity and only a camel for transportation, which he rides to work 2.5 hours every single day, and he wouldn't have it any other way. You could really feel his love for the desert as well as the simple life he leads. We talked a lot about his life and it was incredible to hear. He was the nicest guy- by his own terms, he was a "good"ouin (not a "bad"ouin). He took us to a cave where locals go when its too hot, showed us the echoes off the walls of the stone cliffs, wrote our names in Arabic in the sand (with a heart around it, no less), and showed us where they shot some famous movies.
The pictures do NOT do this view justice. The shapes of these mountains were so unique and went on and on and on in the distance. It was quite the sight. Faris offered to take a picture of Brian and I below...no, that is not a mirage. ;) Haha! He did about as good as I would have done behind the camera.
From Wadi Rum, we drove to the passport control in Aqaba, walked across the border into the Israeli city of Eilat, where we had to undergo another INTENSE security check. The Israelis do not mess around. We basically had to unpack our entire suitcase and answer a million questions anytime we wanted to leave or enter their country. But, I get it. We got through and got on a plane to Tel Aviv so we could spend one more day in Israel before heading home. We got a last-minute hotel and decided to spend the evening in old Jaffa- which ended up being another total highlight of the trip. Old Jaffa was gorgeous- like a comfortable old beach town which also happens to be the oldest port in the entire world! We walked around the charming city and then ate a slow dinner at the cutest little restaurant that sat right on the water. They opened the huge windows and we sat and relaxed and watched one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've ever seen in my life. It was amazing. The meal was delicious and it was the perfect ending to our trip.
I've said this already, but I cannot wait to get back to Israel- even if I am sweating through their intense security checks-totally worth it. What an amazing country!!