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Getting around

Part 4: Mt Nebo, Madaba, Petra

19.12: Munich -> Amman
20.12: Amman
21.12: Amman -> Jerash -> Ajloun -> Amman
22.12: Amman
23.12: Amman -> Desert castle loop -> Amman
24.12: Amman -> Dead Sea
25.12: Dead Sea
26.12: Dead Sea -> Mt Nebo -> Madaba -> Petra
27.12: Petra
28.12: Petra
29.12: Petra -> Aqaba
30.12: Aqaba
31.12: Aqaba
01.01: Aqaba -> Nuweiba
08.01: Amman
09.01: Amman -> Munich

26.12: Dead Sea -> Mt Nebo -> Madaba -> Petra
Hotel Amra Palace, Petra. JOD 64 for a double room, incl. breakfast. The hotel and its infrastructure are oldish, but the toilet and shower work well. The room has a TV, phone, A/C, fridge, some furniture, clothes corner, toliet with bathtub and shower grip, hair dryer. No tea making equipment, no ironing board. The hotel could be cheaper given its old age. Good buffet dinner for JOD 7/person. Free wireless Internet available in the room.
Weather: sunny, blue sky in the morning, partially overcast sky. Much more fresh in Madaba and on the way to Petra due to the altitude. A bit cold in Petra in the evening, a light jacket is necessary. No rain.

After breakfast we pack our staff and check out. Shortly after 12pm we start driving towards Mt Nebo, arriving there at 12:40pm. The distance is not big, but somehow it takes us well more than half an hour to arrive. It's a winding mountain road full of curves, which I take at low speeds so that the passengers in my car will not vomit. Brief stop at a military checkpoint, where soldiers check all our passports and ask where we are going.

Mt Nebo is a site from the Bible where Moses is supposed to have seen the promised land and where he died and ascended to heaven. There are the ruins of a church and some exposition halls. The site is quite pleasant. The entry is 1 JOD. From Mt Nebo you would have a nice view of the Dead Sea and the Jordan valley, if there wasn't so much haze in the air.

At 13:20pm we continue our trip. The next stop is the map church in Madaba. This time the Nokia 5800 navigation system works fine and guides us precisely to the church. We are there shortly before 2pm. In the meantime Natasha has fallen asleep in the car and so Shirley waits in the car while I go with Alissia to the church of the map.

This is a Greek orthodox church with an interesting mosaic on the ground showing a map of the region. We make a donation and light a candle, because Alissia saw other candles burning and wants to light one.

We finish visiting the church in about 10 minutes (aside from the mosaic there is not much to see) and walk to a bank, where I withdraw cash from an ATM. Then we head to a burger restaurant and buy some takeaway food, which we eat with Shirley in the car.

It's almost 3pm when we continue our trip to Petra. We initially stop and refuel the car, then drive using the navigation system to the motorway. Essentially we are guided towards the airport motorway, about 10-20km away from Madaba and from there we proceed south.

It's a mostly well-built motorway with the occasional unevenness, allowing to drive at high speeds. The speed limit is 110km/h, but it wouldn't be dangerous to drive at 140 or 150km/h. This could be a fast motorway, if it were not for the occasional fools which walk through it and the speed bumps at the entry to towns. Regrettably this motorway becomes a slow 50km/h urban road, because it passes through cities. The city boundaries are not well or consitently marked, so it is sometimes hard to guess if the motorway passes through an urban area or not and what the allowed max. speed is.

This is typical of Jordan. Street signage, lane markings on roads are often missing or not well marked or visible. Sometimes there is a speed limit sign, but the end of speed limit is missing. Street signs are a bit inconsistent sometimes. Many Jordanians drive in a weird way, for instance driving at 60km/h on the fast lane of the motorway, suddenly stopping or changing lanes without using the blinker, sometimes driving very slowly where it is allowed to drive faster.

At one point the car navigation system freezes and stops working (later I find out that a phone reboot would have helped).

Breathtaking sunset at 4:40pm on the motorway in the middle of the desert. Amazing colours in the sky, the clouds turn shining red.

At 6pm we arrive in Petra (actually Wadi Musa) and quickly find the hotel. We check in and have dinner. In the evening we explore a bit Wadi Musa. There is a decent tourist infrastructure with many shops but not too many restaurants.

27.12: Petra
Hotel Amra Palace, Petra. This morning I notice that the shower does not have enough water. The breakfast is not good (old dry bread served, to make an example).
Weather: sunny, blue sky, some clouds every now and then covering the sun, but sunny most of the time. Warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt, especially if you walk a lot. Fresh in the evening. Perfect weather for sightseeing: if it is hotter it most likely gets very tiring to walk around Petra the whole day.

After breakfast we leave the hotel around 10am and arrive at the Petra visitor centre about 10 minutes later. 52 JOD entry fee for two 2-days tickets to Petra - quite expensive.

We are among the very few people with a small kid in a stroller. We only meet one other couple with a stroller and they leave it somewhere in Petra hoping to find it again. But it is actually a good idea to have a stroller, because so Natasha can have her noon nap in it.

Still it is a challenge to push around a stroller with a kid in Petra. The path is not smooth, has stones and sand. With some effort we'll make it until after the theatre by noon.

It's a longish walk across the Siq, a very narrow and impressive gorge with very high and steep walls, until we reach the Treasury. Breathtaking sight of the tomb facade carved into the rock. It is possible to get until here with a horse carriage.

Lots of tour groups today visiting Petra. After the Treasury the area opens up and shows a vast area with caves and monuments. Amazing desert scenery with rock formations and architecture. It would actually be possible to visit all places of interest in Petra in one day, but that would involve a lot of walking.

There are several souvenir shops and people selling souvenirs in Petra, but only few cafes and restaurants, all charging highly inflated prices, such as for example 2 JOD for a Bounty chocolate bar. There are only two restaurants at the rear end of Petra, one offering a buffet for JOD 17 per person. The food looks delicious, but is expensive.

Around 12:20pm Natasha has started her noon sleep. While Shirley watches on her, I walk around Petra for the next hour and a half. The area is quite open and it is possible to hike around it, but perhaps bring a GPS navigation system with you or use a guide. Very dusty paths by the way.

At the rear end of Petra, where the restaurants are, I'm told that it's still one hour of walk to the Monastery, so I head back to Shirley and the kids. Will visit the monastery tomorrow.

Shortly before 2pm I'm back with Shirley. Natasha is still sleeping but wakes up 10 minutes later and then we start walking back. Shortly after the theatre there is the path leading to the High Place of Sacrifice, an unmissable sight according to the Rough Guide. It's a steep, tiring path consisting initially of a staircase.

This unmissable sight is in reality very well missable, because it only consists of a large trough - no architecture worth mentioning. However from this site you enjoy a good view of Petra.

After visiting this site I join again Shirley at 3:10pm and we start walking back. By now Alissia is quite tired, having spent the whole day in Petra and done a lot of walking. At the entrance to Petra we put her on a horse, so that she doesn't have to walk for the last part of the trip.

We have a dinner in the Red Cave restaurant near the Mövenpick hotel outside Petra (good food) at 5pm, then head back to the hotel.

28.12: Petra
Hotel Amra Palace, Petra.
Weather: sunny, blue sky the whole day. Hot enough to walk around in a T-shirt at daytime. Quite hot under the sun.

Yesterday Alissia didn't feel well and vomited in the evening. Today she is still sick and didn't sleep well at night. I'm therefore going alone to Petra  to shoot some photos while Shirley takes care of Alissia in the hotel.

I wake up at 7:15am and leave the hotel after breakfast around 8:40am. By 9am I've passed the checkpoint and am walking towards the Siq. There are many tour groups this morning and the place is quite crowded. Until 2pm I'll be in Petra exploring the area.

The city of Petra after the Treasury is surprisingly empty around 10am. All these tour groups have surprisingly disappeared or I have left them behind me (tour groups stop at specific places where the guide gives explanations).

At 10:45am I start walking up to the Monastery (from the restaurant). With a number of photo stops along the way, I arrive there at 11:20am. Surprisingly there are souvenir shops and stalls and cafes all along the way, even on top near the Monastery. The Monastery itself is a temple carved into the mountain with a very impressive facade.

From the Monastery it's a short walk to three viewpoints near it, from which you have a view of the surrounding area. Impressive scenery with deep gorges and canyons.

At 12:25pm I start slowly walking back, around 1pm I'm down again at the restaurant and at 1:30pm I enter the Siq. At 2pm Shirley calls and tells me that Alissia has high fever and complains about stomach pain.

I rush back and manage to be in the hotel at 2:30pm. Shirley has in the meantime called a doctor through the hotel reception. The doctor arrives at 2:45pm and checks Alissia. She has a tonsils inflammation and receives an injection to reduce the fever and an antibiotic. Within a couple of hours Alissia feels better and starts eating again.

We don't do much today except for having a dinner at 7pm.

Copyright 2010 Alfred Molon