On the last full day of our cruise we visited the ancient Jordanian city of Petra. There is also a modern day Petra above the historic and archaeological city in southern Jordan. It is adjacent to the mountain of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin surrounded by mountains forming the eastern flank of the Arabah valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.
The area around Petra has been inhabited from as early as 7000 BC and the Nabataeans might have settled in what would become the capital city of their kingdom as early as the 4th century BC. Archaeological work has only discovered evidence of Nabataean presence dating back to the second century BC by which time Petra had become their capital. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra's proximity to the incense trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub.
Petra is also called the "Rose City" because of the colour of the stone from which it is carved. We reached the city by the eastern entrance which leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge called the Siq ("shaft"). This was formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks serving as a waterway flowing into the Musa Valley. Ruth and I took the option of descending the Siq in a golf buggy rather than taking the demanding walk down. This provided a somewhat hairy ride as the Siq is only 10–13 feet wide with walkers and golf buggies going in both directions.
On our return to the site of the Treasury we had to queue for around fifty minutes to get a buggy back up the Siq. This ride was even more hair-raising than the ride down as the driver seemed to be in even more of a hurry than the driver on the way down. Someone fell just in front of our buggy and I don't know how the buggy driver managed to miss her.
When we reached the end of the buggy ride we left the ancient city of Petra for a hotel in the modern city of Petra for lunch. It had a light fitting that reminded me of a UFO.
I have never had mint tea before that was just mint leaves in hot water. It didn't taste too bad once I'd forked out the mint leaves and added a little sugar.
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