One thing I noticed while perusing the travel blogs on Petra before heading there, is that everyone seems to do a photo essay on visiting Petra Jordan. Why should I be any different?
It seems the thing to do, perhaps because so few people have anything to say about the site, other than it is breathtaking, inspirational, or once in a lifetime.
I had a slightly different view. Shortly after entering the archaeological park, we made our way towards The Siq, or the walkway that leads to the famous sites within Petra, including the Treasury. It was a lovely day in Petra, so enjoyed walking through the barren desert landscape.
Walking and Visiting Petra
At the end of this path, we followed one of the only direction signs that were provided in the park, and finally entered The Siq.
I began to marvel at the rock formations, and all the different shades of red and orange. We were lucky in that there were few tourists walking The Siq while we were there, making the place seem nearly empty.
After about a 15 minute walk, perhaps longer as I continued to stop and take photos, we caught our first glimpse of the Treasury through the slits of the rock formation.
For many, this is an awe inspiring moment. The first glimpse. For me, it was a little distracting with a couple of Spanish tourists trying to get some selfies. I offered to take a photo of them, and they returned the favor snapping the requisite Treasury through The Siq shot. This seems to be a most do when visiting Petra.
Perhaps my experience was somewhat tainted due to the camera around my neck and my interest in capturing the photo, but I think even if I did not have my own camera, it would have been marred by the other tourists clogging up the space, trying to take their own shots. And, this was not even a busy day, by a long shot.
We finally emerged and captured the full view of the Treasury. It was pretty. It was smaller than I imaged. Most of all, I wondered why I had traveled so far to see it, particularly considering how expensive it was to even enter Petra. I placed Petra on my bucket list so long ago that I was no longer sure why it was there in the first place, other than acting as a place holder of places across the world that a traveler like me should travel to.
Regardless of my initial thoughts, though, we had to snap the requisite Petra selfie.
We tried to avoid the touts, and the offers of donkey and camel rides, and tried to explore some of the other nearby sites.
As there were virtually no signs, we wandered wondering whether we were allowed to wonder. I took this picture as proof that there were no “prohibited” signs, in case Eric got arrested.
Some of the other sites, I have to say, kept reminding me of Star Wars. I am sure I am not the first to make this observation, but I was convinced a band of angry jawas would come storming out of nowhere at any moment, perhaps demanding money for a “free” horse ride.
Visiting Petra, and the Rocks
Ultimately, I found myself just taking photos of pretty rocks, not really knowing what else to do. After all, I wanted to get my money’s worth from the ticket, but I really just came in to see the Treasury. So, I just took pictures of the rocks.
Now, the rocks are pretty, and depending on the angle of the sun, they looked unique. Considering I have never spent much time in the desert, it was interesting to see. But, it was a lot of rock.
Ultimately, and understandably, Eric got annoyed with my budding rock photo collection, leaving him to look like this.
And that was where our visit to Petra Jordan ended.
I don’t know what is wrong with me that I was not more impressed with visiting Petra. I wish I could report back that I loved it. I think, honestly, a lot had to do with the cost of the entrance fee and the transport there. Some of it might have to do with how much it has been built up as an amazing place to visit. Chances are, though, it is because I have been to so many places that it is becoming difficult to wow me. If that is the case, it is probably a good idea that we are not traveling much this year. I need some time to cool my heels, so that amazing sights like Petra can start to have some luster again.
Heading to Amman?Where to Stay in Amman: Get hotel recommendations here. Or, we stayed at the Amman Marriott, where rooms start at $120 (Check Trip Advisor reviews here | Book here) What to do in Amman: Eat tasty Jordanian sweets! Learn more: Get a Footprint Guide to Jordan or the Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle East from Amazon.[/box]
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.
9 thoughts on “Visiting Petra Jordan – And the Requisite Selfie”
It's like going to a movie that people keep raving about, it's just not THAT good. Sometimes in our gushiness (?) I think we take away some of the wonder people might feel. Now, in saying that I do gush over Petra and Jordan, in general. I loved it. I loved every bit of it. There were some tourists when we went, but no many. It was easy to get good photos; and I loved the locals, the people who still live there. We were invited for tea with one of them…unforgettable.
Corinne, It's the Tropic Thunder syndrome, as we call it. You know? That Tom Cruise movie from a few years back. A friend raved and raved saying how awesome it was. We saw it and it was good, but our friend built it up so much that it was impossible to impress. On the other end, when I went to Angkor I had seen so little of Asia, and even of the world, and I had no preset expectations, and I truly loved it! I am so glad that you had such a great experience. It is important to for people to hear about both sides of the coin on this one!
The one thing I learned about visiting Petra is that it is very much worth the extra cost to hire a site guide to take you through. Without a guide, you do not really get to appreciate and learn about the history and effort it took to carve out such an amazing city. Also to remember, that almost 85% of the site has yet to be excavated! The cost of the entry ticket may to some be "high" but this goes towards the ongoing excavation process.
I totally hear you about being underwhelmed after travelling so much. I reckon there's also seeing pictures of a place before you get there – then you get there and go, yep, that's the way it looked in the pictures. Or worse, it doesn't look as good in pictures as there's a gazillion other tourists and touts blocking your own moment there. Sad to hear it wasn't the best experience for you (I've never been, though I kind of want to see it in a similar fashion to you I think).
Sarah and Caitlyn, yeah I think a guide would have helped, and obviously I could have done more research. I just saw another blogger post an absolutely amazing shot of Petra and I wish I had seen that view. But, he took a camel ride for 28 kilometers to get there. Not something I would have done with how exhausted I was. Caitlyn, when you do go, check out Aaron's WW Adventures Blog. He wrote some great tips on how get yourself around and see cool things!
I totally understand that sentiment! There were a few moments this year (in Africa even!), when I felt like the idea of traveling and seeing far-flung locales felt bizarrely ‘normal’. Sometimes it’s nice to step back to gain some perspective! Also, just did a post on places that were super underwhelming — for me, Lima, Athens, Stonehenge (+ a handful of others) left me feeling like I seriously missed something. Ugh.
Interesting to hear, but I think a lot of us have this sentiment. We head to Athens in a little over a week, so I will be curious how I will feel once I finally see the Acropolis!
Sorry that you didn’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would, but I agree with Sarah – it pays to have a guide, so instead of just looking at the rocks you have someone to explain the history and stories behind the rocks. Also, by the sounds of it you didn’t really get to see much of it, there is a whole city after the treasury – a Roman amphitheatre, colonnade streets, more temples, and, if your feeling energetic enough, at the top of the mountain (about 800 steps) is the monastery which I personally think is much more impressive than the Treasury (if you’ve seen Transformers 2 – this is the temple where they find the dagger at the end!) It is possible to see the highlights in 1 day, but if you really want to explore the whole of the city 2 or 3 days is needed but don’t worry you don’t need to pay 50 JD per day the multi day tickets are highly discounted (I think it’s 55 JD for 2 days). I hope that one day you would reconsider and give this amazing city another try!
Agree on the guide, and perhaps that would work with other people. But, I know that after paying what we did for entry, I would not have wanted to pay more for a guide. I think I can just chalk this one up to the fact that we don’t hike, or to explore parks in that way. We are just city folk!