We had a chance to have a quick look round Aqaba before we left. We could see Israel quite clearly across the bay. Our first impressions of Jordan are positive - it is modern, more developed with less poverty than Egypt but it is definitely more expensive.
The drive to Petra took us along a modern road and then through mountains where we turned off to Petra.
We checked into our hotel and decided to go off to see '
Al Beidha' -aka little Petra. We hired a 4x4 pick up truck with a couple of lads staying at the hotel, who deferred to the oldies and sat in the back of the open truck. Little Petra is a series of rock temples cut into sides of a valley, but not quite on the scale of Petra. There was a café at the end of the gorge - not quite Starbucks though. We then went off road to a Bedouin village and more stunning scenery.
After we came back, and ate a very poor diner, we went to see Petra by Candlelight. This is where they light the way through the Siq (the gorge) to the Treasury with candles. We walked (along with lots of others) and arrived at the Treasury which looked stunning lit by candles. There was then music and stories. The whole thing was very atmospheric.
The next day we started to look round Petra for real. We walked down the hill to get tickets at a whopping 55JD about £50 each. The Siq by day is equally stunning as the night before. We got there before most of the tour parties but it was still crowded - we are not used to this!. The first sight of the Treasury was stunning. We then walked down through all the main sights - the street of Facades and Theatre, tombs and onto the city. It seemed like everywhere you looked there were amazing vistas.
After a lunch we climbed up to the monastery - a large structure as big as the treasury but built on top of the mountain. The climb up there took an hour with donkeys flying past us up and down. We sat in the sun having a drink so that we could get our legs working again for the long slog down and on to the exit. It took 2 hours to walk down and then back to the exit. Just outside the entrance we found a place selling relatively cheap beer (only £4.50 a pint). We felt we deserved them. We loved Petra but place is expensive and has lots of poor value hotels/restaurants.
The next day was a little less frenetic. We strolled down the road towards the site and visited the automatic bakery to get lunch - so called because it has a conveyor system that drops fresh pitta breads in front of the man serving. The girls even had time to look in souvenir shops - Ken must be going soft!
We had a horse ride down to the Siq included in our tickets - so Fran, Ken & Judi opted to do this. They were lead down the path very gently - I walked down quicker. Unfortunately they could not do the Indiana Jones bit through the canyon (Petra was where IJ and the Temple of Doom was filmed). The guys with horses were displeased with the £1 tip - expecting 10 - so much for a free ride.
We avoided the Siq and opted to go through the water channel which had been dug to take water away from the city. It was basically a dry river bed that goes through a very steep gorge that got narrower and narrower - there were a few drops of 6 feet to overcome but the route took us round to top of the city past some tombs we had not seen. There was nobody else foolish enough to do this route so it was very peaceful. Fran thought it was great fun and wanted to do it again.
After this we walked up to see the Byzantine Church - basically ruins but with some amazingly well preserved mosaics. After that we took a walk up to the High Point of Sacrifices. This was basically right up the top of a mountain overlooking Petra. Fran saw the mountain and said 'you must be joking - climb that' Anyway after a little persuasion., we started the climb. It was a bit longer than expected and Fran took her time and made it to the top - the views over Petra were fantastic. We came back to the main valley and had a last look at the treasury - magical place - and the slog up the Siq to the entrance.
After 2 hard days, we decided we had earned a ice cream, so went into the Movenpick for some of the best ice cream ever - except I had had too much sun so couldn't partake. Unfortunately for Ken, they had a good set of shops which Judi utilised well. After that we had a last diner with Ken & Judi in the Crowne Plaza hotel - amazingly for a 4* hotel it was the cheapest dinner so far in Jordan. We rounded off the evening seeing the last part of England v France rugby game - a good end. Unfortunately for Ken, Judi found another rug shop and it was an expensive rugby match for him.