Aqaba

Today I’m sitting on my veranda while we’re transiting the Suez Canal and taking this time to watch the scenery and do my updates. We’re the first in a convoy of 45 ships coming through today. An interesting point is we are actually traveling the border between Africa and Asia. That said, we just spent 3 days in Aqaba which was absolutely incredible. The days were spent with a jeep safari in the Wadi Rum desert then a full day in the ancient city of Petra and last was a snorkel trip and lunch on the Red Sea.

Wadi Rum Jeep Safari – the Wadi Rum is a huge desert best known for the area Lawrence of Arabia led the fight against the Ottoman’s in the early 1900’s. The movie was filmed here and the train seen in the movie runs alongside the road from Aqaba to Wadi Rum. This was also the site of the filming for the movie The Martian with Matt Damon. Today, it still looks much the same and is still occupied by Bedouins with their camels, goats and tents. One of the stops we made was to visit one of the camps where were were invited in for cardamon tea. There were also camels to ride to our next stop, for a fee, and a few of our group did the trip. Another interesting stop was a dead end canyon where Lawrence of Arabia held the Ottoman prisoners. Today there is a carving of him in one of the stones there.

Ancient City of Petra – This was a major bucket list item for most of the passengers and me as well. As this was very important to many of us and the challenge with our ship is there are a lot of mobility challenged people and you move at the pace of the slowest person in the group a fellow traveler and I opted for hiring a private guide which was fantastic. Not only did we get to see a lot more, our guide was actually born in the caves and his parent, grandparents, etc. lived in the caves here. After the city of Petra was discovered in the 1800’s and some of the excavation completed, the government realized they needed to protect the site so they built a new city of Petra and all the cave residents were required to leave. That only started happening in the 1960’s and until the early 1970’s, the Bedouins were still living in the caves. One of the benefits they received was housing and free water and electricity for life.

Many of the major structures here date back 1000’s of years with the newer ones estimated to have been built around 50 AD. Only a small percentage of the actual town has been excavated and there are ongoing projects trying to uncover more of the historical areas. From the visitor center to the first building which is the Treasury, of Indiana Jones fame, is 1 1/2 miles down hill, which means uphill coming back. Once we got inside and started getting a feel for how massive this area was, we decided to take advantage of a golf cart service to ride out so we could spend our energy exploring plus the cart ride is about 10 minutes and it gave us more time to explore in addition to saving our legs and boy were we happy we made that decision. To actually explore all the major structures would take at least a week if you were in good shape. For example to climb up to the Monastery, it’s over a mile from the Treasury and then up 812 steps or you could go the other direction and climb 600 stairs up to the High Place of Sacrifice. In addition to the physical effort, there is not much else to see along the way. Our guide wisely talked us out of trying that but then took us on a billy goat climb up rocks and stairs to to see many caves, the Royal Palace, which is the newer structure built in 50 AD and other structures. Between climbing and walking in sand, we were beat after almost 5 hours of walking. The person I was with measured about 5 miles and 45 flights of stairs. I was really happy to see the golf cart at the end to say the least.

Day 3 – Snorkel trip in the Red Sea. After Petra, this was a welcome relief and very relaxing. The boat was actually about a 50 ft boat with a glass bottom, so we toured around over the reefs and a maritime park the Jordanians created using sunken ships, an old military tank and aircraft which are only about 10 ft under the surface of crystal clear water. Given the water was a balmy 70 degrees and the wind was blowing almost 20 miles an hour, staying on the boat with a nice glass of wine and watching them cook lunch seemed like a great idea.

Last a couple of early pictures of the Suez this morning. We started though about 4 am and are not quite halfway through yet. We’re currently in a newer section with a north bound and south bound lane. Shortly we’ll be heading back in to the original single lane section.

One thought on “Aqaba

  1. Petra looks like a great stop. I think you should have walked instead of taken the golf cart. Could help with your baby fat. LOL

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: