Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Petra by Day

We’ve changed hostels and are now ensconced at the place Jon originally found on the internet back in January and also recommended by Willem and Renne. It’s more central and with a great vibe, with lots of interesting guests. And the food is awesome, but all in good time: more about all that later!
Seeing Petra by night FIRST was probably a good strategy, like only gradually revealing something: first in the dark where details, colours, the size of the siq (gorge) are all impossible to make out properly. But now in the morning light, WHAT a revelation!

The journey down the siq was punctuated by donkeys and horse carriages going about their early morning business.

When Burckhardt first clapped eyes on this majestic city, he must have had just the same feeling that we had. And when the words ‘rose-red city half as old as time’ were penned by Burgon, what a feeling of expectation the poet must have undergone, for he had to wait another fifteen years to see the great Treasury, the magnificent ruins and the beautiful, multicoloured marbling in the golden sandstone. Well, ‘rose-red’ it actually isn’t, but does that matter one jot?

Our experiences so far on this epic adventure have taken in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world in Nepal, the great Taj Mahal, the world’s longest beach, countless palaces and forts and the holiest place on Earth. Where does Petra rank alongside all this? Well, it’s certainly an experience of a lifetime, that’s for sure! Infact, it was so breathtaking that we actually visited the site three times in all. The nearby marbled sandstone was particularly impressive!

We were very careful in avoiding swarms of tourists. It paid to wake up at six o’clock because we were able to view all that we could in a more natural environment and we could hear the odd birdsong as we strolled down into the Lost City of Petra. The Treasury itself stood magnificently as the sun rose to bathe the top section, shining down obliquely, leaving the lower sections shaded by the surrounding rocks.

Jordanian food is fantastic! We sat down to the all-you-can-eat buffet and were amazed at the variety and the choices. There are twenty-five different types of salad alone! We filled our plates high and returned a number of times to sample many unique and enjoyable tastes. What Arabic cuisine can do with an aubergine would take an entire blog entry in itself! The humble lentil and the simple chickpea are also transformed in this style of cooking, and a basic chopped tomato salad was lifted with the inclusion of some chopped red chillies. A variety of dips with cucumber provided a cooling effect, and cous-cous had chopped mint for some extra ‘zing’. A couple of different pasta dishes completed the buffet, one of which was plain macaroni and the other was jazzy-tasting spaghetti that had flavoursome tomato every now and again.

1 comment:

  1. Simon, eating Salad? Never heard, or experienced that before!