Amazing Petra | By Ruchi Nasa

Jordan had been on my bucket list for quite some time, and when my husband came up with a plan to celebrate our 15 years of married life by a little late trip to this beautiful country, there was no way I could refuse.

Our anniversary falls on the 18th of November, and we had an extended weekend coming up in November end. We flew to Jordan on 29th morning via Royal Jordanian flight from Dubai to Amman, the capital city early in the morning. It was just a 3.10 hr flight, and due to travelling west, we were there by 9.30 in the morning.
Jordan is the home to many ancient civilizations and birth to many religions ( if we ignore the present borders).
We had booked a taxi via Jordan taxi, detailing them our trip details and negotiating the price beforehand. All tour planning was obviously done by hubby dear as he just loves this sort of planning.

We first drove to Jerash, which was built when Jordan ( then Philadelphia ) was ruled by Romans. Jerash is just a 1 hr drive from Queen Alia Airport, Amman. The highlights of Jerash were temples of Zeus and Artemis, the south theatre, oval plaza and the colonnade street. All the ruins point to a great civilization which lived there. We spent around 2-3 hours at Jerash and then drove to the Dead Sea.
It took us approximately 2.5 hours to reach the Dead Sea. We had booked the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort. Our room was not yet ready when we arrived, so we strolled to a nearby mall and had a delicious lunch at Dubliners pub, overlooking the Dead Sea. 

Movenpick resort spans over a huge area and had a restaurant’s area with speciality restaurants for Chinese and Italian cuisine as well. There was a Shopping area selling local stuff, Spa, Summer, Winter and a beach pool. Our room gave us a beautiful view of the Dead Sea. We had to just walk down the steps to be at the Dead Sea. 

It was already evening when we reached down to the Dead Sea. Many tourists could be seen rubbing Dead Sea mud on their bodies, others lay in the sea trying to read a book and capture that moment where you can just float in water. We too followed others and rubbed our bodies with mud. The Dead Sea mud is rich in minerals and is said to have therapeutic properties. I was a bit apprehensive about the floating however, the lifeguard there made me relax and I could easily float for around 20 minutes. The water was cold as expected and very salty. In Fact, I can’t forget that horrible taste in my mouth. There are few dos and don’t which everyone should remember before plunging in the waters @DeadSea. You should not have any fresh cuts, should not shave for about 2-3 days before visiting.

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth 430.5 metres below sea level, and the hypersalinity provides a harsh environment for any Flora or fauna to survive in it. 

We soaked in the serenity, much more than anything else. The whole atmosphere around the sea is so serene. In the evening, not even a car honk, all you could hear was a fountain around, a few insects making noises and nothing else. Across the sea, towards the horizon, we could see lights from across the border, another country, another boundary of Dead sea.

Next morning after having a wholesome breakfast at the hotel, we drove from the Dead Sea to Wadi Rum. It was around 4 hrs drive. Wadi Rum is a protected desert area with the most beautiful landscape. Jordan is one of the driest areas in the world. Its landscape is a unique mix of the desert with red soil, sandstone and limestone mountains. The mountains are erosional and have been carved by the winds, and the water into amazing shapes. We were just amazed by God’s creation and kept reflecting back to the wonders we have on the earth. 
We stayed in the desert camp, Memories by Aicha. This camp had panoramic glass tents, through which you could soak in the beauty all night. I couldn’t sleep the entire night after a few hours of rest. It was just so spectacular to gaze at the stars in the sky the entire night. The camp had arranged a special session on stargazing and astrology in the night, where we saw Orion and Gemini and heard loads of stories too. Night temperatures were as low as 5, and we huddled ourselves in the warm gowns (farva) which are worn by locals. These were provided courtesy hotel. Next morning, we took the Jeep safari to see an amazing sunrise, Ghazali canyon, and soak ourselves in the beautiful views of the desert.

We drove to Petra the same day. It was around 1.45hr drive. We reached by afternoon. Already tired by the early morning excursion, we decided to rest. We had purchased Jordan pass, with 2-day access to Petra, but skipped going on Day 1. We stayed at Movenpick Nabatean Castle, which overlooked the Wadi Musa, and gave us amazing views of the valley.
There is another Movenpick hotel, which is just outside Petra and we had actually intended to book. However, due to some error, we ended up booking this one which was around 7km from Petra. However, the beautiful views from our window made up for our disappointment. 

After recharging ourselves, we took the hotel shuttle to Petra and explored Petra the entire day. It had rained the previous night, so the wind was chilly, and the road slippery. Again, Petra left us more humbled at the great civilizations which have walked the earth. Nabateans were the Arabic nomads who built Petra. They were a rich tribe who was an important link in the incense route. It was difficult for anyone to cross the desert, yet these people tamed the desert, used water wisely and built this amazing city. The impressive huge Dar Al monastery and the treasury have been carved out of single red sandstone each. They imbibed from the cultures they traded with, and you can see evidence in the architecture around. The treasury( Al khanez), Dar Al monastery, Royal tombs, Qasr Al Bint and the amphitheatre are the places not to be missed. We walked almost 30,000 steps that day and were dead tired by the end. 
Jordan is not a very rich country, in fact, I could draw so many parallels to India, yet what was endearing was the warmth and simplicity of the people. A part of Jordan is fertile and home to the best oranges and pomegranates and across our drive from Amman to the Dead Sea, we could see the fruit sellers selling these ripe and juicy fruits on the roadside.

As I’m completing this, I’m in the car driving back to Amman, to catch my flight back to Dubai. Once back, it will be chaos again, a daily race against time. Travelling always leaves me calmer and this time it has left me more in gratitude towards nature, humanity and the Mother Earth.

Some points to remember 

  1. Jordan has visa on arrival
  2. Jordan pass gives access to all monuments and visa (70JD) and is the best way to explore Jordan.
  3. Children less than 12 do not require Jordan pass as they have free access to all monuments.
  4. Best time to visit is from March to May.

About the author Ruchi Nasa – I am a doctor based in Dubai. I love to read books, travel around the world and through my blogs I try to make small changes where I think I can.

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