Ten Points if You Guessed Petra…Now The Journey Begins
My trip to Petra began as most adventures do with the purchase of a new rucksack. I was innocently browsing in my favourite handbag shop when a (fake) Prada bag caught my eye. Telling myself again and again I didn’t need it I asked the shop assistant if he could bring it down. I insisted that I would not be buying it that day. Clearly I was not fooling anyone. As he handed the rucksack to me he got a carrier bag ready. I probably had the look of a hungry lioness as I admired the bag. Before I knew it I was out of the shop with my shiny new purchase. In order to avoid the dreaded buyer’s remorse I quickly convinced myself that it had been a sensible purchase. I am Scottish it physically pains me to spend money. I had been thinking of going to Petra, I was long overdue an adventure, and this bag would be perfect for holding all my essentials. It was much more explorer-y than my usual bag. You would never catch Harriet trekking the rain forest with an Adidas rucksack. So it was off to Petra for me!
I’m not quite that spontaneous. I had wanted to go to Petra ever since I had arrived in Sharm. I am a massive Indiana Jones fan and I would like to tick all the Modern Wonders of the World off my list. I didn’t fancy an organised day tour as it is such a long journey there and back but it was near impossible to organise a trip independently not to mention eye wateringly expensive. I wanted to go before it got oven temperature hot in Jordan. I didn’t fancy getting carried around Petra in a cup. With my birthday coming up I liked the thought of adding a second country to my list of new places I had visited in my 26th year. With that I booked a ticket and gave it to myself as the best early birthday present ever.
My pick up time was 2 am. I had had a long week at work and only managed an hours sleep before it was time to go. My new rucksack and I boarded the minibus with a dozen other tourists and a couple of guides. Another girl from my hotel was on her own too and it was really great to have company and someone to exchange stories with. I settled down to snooze but the guides would not stop talking. Egyptian men love to talk loudly more than anything else. I told them to shut up once nicely and a second time not nicely. I am a scary monster when I am tired. Three hours after we set off we arrived at the Nuweiba Port just as the sun was rising. Egyptians are not allowed to cross the border so it was here we said goodbye to our chatty guides. We joined up with another group who had driven from Taba. We boarded a boat, I think it was a hydrofoil but I don’t know what a hydrofoil is so I’m not sure. It was quite plush inside. Nothing like the chicken carrier I had imagined it would be. We watched a video about how great the boat is. It is the jewel of the water apparently. There was even passenger testimonials with big thumbs up. Forget Petra, this boat was bigging itself up to be the highlight of my day. We set off slowly at first and then got faster and faster until we were crashing through the waves like a speedboat. My stomach was flopping around like I was on a rollercoaster which made me giggle. It was equal parts brilliant and nauseating.
Somehow I fell asleep. I woke up as Harry Potter was playing quidditch and we were approaching the dock in Aqaba. The World’s Most Patronising Woman explained to us in immense detail how to turn our passports to the photograph page for inspection. I was in the front row and got to border security quickly. The guard took my passport *stampety stampety stamp stamp stamp*. Nice and easy. I was in Jordan!
Our Jordanian guide met us at the port and we boarded our coach for Petra, another 2 hour drive away. Our guide was great. He answered the unasked request, please tell us everything you know about Jordan. I always sit in the front row. Yes, I am a teacher’s pet but also because I have serious concentration issues. I can listen to someone talk for a maximum of one minute before I start daydreaming. A 2 hour lecture about Jordan first thing in the morning when we had been travelling for hours already was painful. Ordinarily I would have been interested in learning about Jordan. At that time my knowledge was limited to Petra and Queen Raina but I could not keep my eyes open. I actually had to use my fingers to keep my eyelids up. The journey through Jordan looked exactly like my bus ride through Israel. We were driving parallel to Israel for a lot of the journey so I was seeing the same deserty, beige scenery. The bus driver showed us his mad skills as he raced through the winding mountain roads. I would have liked to have been asleep then. My heart was in my mouth. Eventually we got off the bus. Unfortunately it was for a gift shop stop. At the start of the day, really?! I used the toilet and bought some water then huffed about the bus desperate to get to Petra. The views were pretty from there though.
Fifteen minutes later we had driven through the sad little tourist town, walked past the Indiana Jones themed gift shops, beeped through the security gates and were at the entrance. After the long journey I was so ready to set off and explore the Lost City!