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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Beyond excited….

Day 109/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Petra, Jordan.

Before I tell you all about the fantastic day we had in one of the places in the world that for me was pretty close to top of my bucket list, I want to talk about a troll that commented on my Facebook post from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

We were lucky enough to have wifi in the car today when we were driving up to Petra, so I decided to check my email and my social media when we stopped for a quick coffee break. I looked first at Facebook to see that someone had posted a comment on yesterday’s blog saying “I found your blog today was boring. I was hoping that you would have written more about cultural things.” Rather than respond to this troll online because the definition of a troll is” someone who posts or comments online to ‘bait people which means deliberately provoking an argument or emotional reaction”, I have deleted her comment and also blocked her from reading my Facebook posts in the future.

Here’s the deal about this blog. I spend at least 4-5 hours writing blogs when we visit a new country, and that does not include the time I spend on editing my photographs and doing the research behind what I accurately write. Saudi Arabia has lots of information about the culture, religion, history, politics, human rights, etc, etc all available on Wikipedia, other blogs or travel web sites. If you read my blog yesterday closely you might have caught the subtle comment that I made that our female guide had a University degree in Public Relations and she was our tour guide for the day. Did I learn anything from the female guide in Jeddah? No. I did not. Anything I wrote about yesterday I researched on my own as I was writing the blog or preparing to write the blog. Saudi Arabia is not going to bring a bunch of people from the USA and Canada and convince them about their culture, when we are all educated, discerning travellers who can make up our minds for ourselves on what is going on in Saudi Arabia. What is culture to one person is not to another. We did not experience culture in Saudi Arabia. We had tea in a tea shop. We did not interact with anyone other than our guide. We had a bit of tasty food from a bakery grabbed quickly as we walked by in the heat. We shopped in the market but cannot speak Arabic, so having a conversation with a local to ask them questions about their culture was not going to happen. I wrote what I saw and frankly that is it for Saudi Arabia. We were kept contained as cruise ship visitors, strictly to the old market area in Jeddah during Ramadan, when everyone is indoors because it is hot, and they are fasting, for a reason. This was not a fact finding mission on Saudi Culture. Frankly yesterday’s blog took me about 7 hours to research, edit and write. Trolls are everywhere on social media, but they will not be on my Facebook page with their comments. I really look forward to comments on my blog, but if you cannot be kind, then please do not comment. What does being negative over one blog post add to anyone’s lives? Life is short. Let’s all be nice and get along please on social media. Now that I have that off my chest, let me tell you about our awesome day in Petra!

We used a company called Jordan Horizons Tours contact Basma Hayundini Website is: . The cost of the tour was $640.00USD (plus 3% for using a credit card) which I know is a lot of money, but it was less expensive than the Petra optional tour offered by Viking with a lot of people on a bus, following a lollipop through ancient Petra, with one guide for 30+ people.

The communication with Basma was excellent as he was able to message me through using What’s App while we’ve been onboard the Neptune. We had learned the ship was docking at 6am instead of 7am today, but our back on board time was to be 5pm, not 6pm, so I messaged Basma last evening and he suggested we meet at 7am, instead of the planned 8am, to make sure we could have the full day to complete our tour.

We saw that the Viking tour to Petra was meeting in The Star Theatre at 6:30am for the first departure, so we wanted to get ahead of that group, and get through immigration in Jordan. We had to surrender our passports at Immigration and then proceed through security, exit the Cruise Terminal and wait for our driver. We got through immigration in a snap, and were waiting for our driver at 6:35am. Unfortunately we were waiting in front of the terminal, and our guide was waiting beside the buses at the side of the terminal, but thank goodness for good friends who look out for us!

Julie, our friend from Australia, on her way to her bus in the port of Aqaba, had seen our guide with this sign and told him we were waiting in front of the terminal. She encouraged him to come into the terminal area, and he told her, that he could not. So she asked if it was ok if she took his sign and went and got us for him, and that is what she did! We got into Faed’s fully loaded 2020 Toyota Camry hybrid, and away we went!

The drive to Petra was supposed to take about 2 hours and since there was not much traffic on the road, that time should have been accurate.

The road out of Aqaba, Jordan was great and the scenery was very interesting. The mountains were everywhere we looked. Our driver Faed pointed out that the black rocks in the mountains were black granite.

Another look at the black granite in the mountains in Aqaba.

Growing tomatoes in the desert. A huge and deep groundwater area was found at the southern part of Jordan in Wadi Rum. Jordan has an extensive water pipeline that brings the water from Rum desert into Amman City and Aqaba so that agriculture is possible in the desert.

Our driver Faed we learned was originally from Kuwait, but he and parents, and many siblings fled to Jordan during the Kuwait/Iraq war because his parents were very concerned for their safety, but especially for the safety of their daughters, given the atrocities being committed by Iraqi soldiers. Faed and some of his family had returned after the war, but things were not the same in Kuwait and the family ultimately split up to live in various places in the Middle East, with he and his wife and children now residing in Aqaba. He has been a driver for 12 years with Jordan Horizons Tours and I can attest that he is an excellent driver!

A car selfie on the way to Petra.

As we were heading up the main highway to Petra, I was asking Faed all sorts of questions on Jordan. Population: 11.1 million, with 2.9 million of these legal and illegal refugees. Jordan hosts refugees from the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and there are hundreds of thousands of workers from Egypt, Indonesia and South Asia who work as domestic and construction workers. The road we were travelling on called the new Desert Road, or “Salman Bin Abdulaziz” is named after the Saudi King, as Saudi Arabia funded the new road which cost $270million because the road connects to the Aqaba Port for the transportation of goods to northern Saudi Arabia which is located 25 minutes south of the port; connects Aqaba to the capital of Jordan, Amman; and provides a much faster and better transportation route through Jordan, for the hundred’s of thousands of Muslims who want to travel to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia to complete the Hajj. How very interesting, except the roadway was not officially open yet, and our driver knew that the road was a shortcut to Petra, so he took a left turn down a dirt road, pulled a U turn, and then we were on the ’new highway’ which is paved, but still not officially opened. Apparently Faed and his fellow drivers who drive for Jordan Horizon’s have a ‘What’s App’ group text so they communicate on whether the road is ‘open’ or ‘closed/barricaded’ for the day. Lucky for us, the road was ‘open’ so to speak.

Just then, the fog rolled in and I was really hoping that the road was finished and we wouldn’t end up over the cliff in the fog!

Faed assured me he does this drive to Petra many times each week, and he knew the ‘new‘ road was completed.

After about an hour driving, we stopped for a brief restroom and turkish coffee/mint tea break at the Red Rose City Cafe located in the basement of a gift shop on the road to Petra.

The cafe had a lot of snacks for purchase, but we had packed a lot of snacks from our cabin and were not hungry. Smoking was allowed in the cafe and our driver Faed smoked, so I went upstairs to look at the gift shop.

I didn’t know where to begin looking because the gift shop had so many things to choose from. One of the staff at the gift shop said I should come with him and look at some hand woven scarves. He even suggested I try one on, in the traditional style.

Wearing the traditional Bedouin headscarf. called a ‘Shemagh’. The scarf was very beautiful and all hand embroidered (or so I was told), but the scarf was also $235 CAD, so I said “no thanks” despite how good the scarf looked on me! Bedouin inhabit the desert regions in the Arabian Peninsula including Jordan. The term “Bedouin comes from the Arabic ‘badawi’ which means ‘desert dweller’. Jordan has over 1.3 million bedouins who live semi-nomadic lifestyles, living part of the year in the desert, along the Desert Highway in the vast wasteland with their herds of sheep and goats and the other part of the year in Bedouin villages, where they practise agriculture. The Jordanian government provides the Bedouin with different services such as education, housing and health clinics, however some Bedouin give this up to prefer their traditional nomadic lifestyle.

Bedouin camp in the desert.

Bedouin village off the Desert Highway, Jordan. Bedouin’s live in this village part of the year. I asked why the rebar was sticking out of the roofs of many of the homes in the village and Faed said that the home is not completed yet. Once the oldest son marries, the top floor is added to the home for him to live in with his wife, and then the mother and father can stay in the home, grow old in the home, and know that their son and daughter in law will look after them until they die, after which time the house belongs to the son and his wife. There were a lot of homes that had the rebar sticking out of them, so I guess they are all waiting for their oldest son to marry!

As we drove on the road to Petra, our guide had to keep moving from left to right, to avoid all of the potholes on the road. His 2020 Toyota Camry XLE hybrid was shipped from the U.S. as a salvaged unit, that had been in an accident. The vehicle was originally $37,000 USD, but the company was able to get the vehicle for $32,000 because of the accident damage and then repaired the small damage for $1,000 USD. Interesting. Anyway, the fog was pretty bad as we headed into Petra and with the heavy rains that Petra had received yesterday, there were rock washouts on the road, that also had to be avoided. The closer we got to Petra, the harder it started to rain. The temperature in Petra was only supposed to be 11C or 52F today. Quite a bit different temperature than the 96F we had in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia two days ago! The forecast was for a full day of rain in Petra. Great! The average rainfall in Petra is only 24.8 inches and only gets about 8mm of rain on average in April and unfortunately for us, they were getting more than the annual rainfall for April in two days! Typically in April the average temperature at noon is 27C or 81F.

We made it to Petra in about 2.5 hours with the fog and rain slowing us down a bit on the drive. The Movenpick hotel in the background is where we would behaving lunch today.

Our driver Faed walked us over to the Petra Visitors Centre and went and got our tickets, and after getting our tickets, he got our private guide for us. Faed gave me a cell phone with his number in it and showed me how to use it, since it was not an iPhone like I am used to. He asked me to call him as soon as we got back to the Visitors Centre as he would then arrange our lunch for us after we had visited old Petra.

This is what we avoided by having Faed and our private guide with us.

The map of Petra. We had been told in an enrichment lecture onboard the Neptune that we wouldn’t make it to ‘The Monastery’ in the top left of the map unless we ran all the way, and that was not going to happen.

Having a private guide also helped avoid all of this lineup. We walked right past the line, scanned our tickets and we were inside and on our way to ancient Petra.

Our guide Raed. He is guide # 85 and speaks excellent English. He has a Masters degree and has been guiding for 10 years.

So what is so special about Petra? I did not learn about Petra in school in Canada, but it is one of those places that I had heard was one of the top places in the world, so I knew that I wanted to visit Petra. In fact Petra is one of the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World’ and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1985.

Nobody really knows precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the Capital of the Nabataean Empire from the 1st Century BC which grew rich through trade in frankincense, myrrh and spices as all of the major trade routes passed through it to Gaza in the West, Bosra and Damascus in the north, to Aqaba and Leuce Come on the Red Sea and across the desert to the Persian Gulf.

As we started walking into ancient Petra the first thing we came across was Djinn Blocks.

Djinn blocks or squared monuments.

The Obelisk Tomb, carved by the Nabataen’s in the 1st century AD. Above the tomb are four pyramids (naresh) and a niche with a statue that symbolizes the five people that are buried there. Below is the Triclinium, a banquet hall. The tomb was for ‘Abdomanchos’ and his family which was in 40-70AD.

Our walk down into Petra was from the Eastern entrance which led steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge, in places only 10-13 feet wide, called ‘The Siq’ or ‘shaft’ in English. This natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks served as a waterway for the ancient Nabataeans. The carved section on the left stone wall was the way the Nabataens collected water to make sure they had drinking water.

And as luck would have it, it had rained a lot the day before we arrived, so the water wells were full of water which the Nabataeans would have drank, as well as used for their livestock.

The Nabataeans buried their dead in intricately carved tombs cut out of the mountain sides. There are eight different designs of tombs in Nabataen architecture which are distinguished by the complexity of the carvings and whether they had columns, pediments or aches.

A simple classical tomb in Petra which was not very elaborate. In the basic structure pilasters with Nabataean capitals under an entablature (horizontal bans), above which a triangular pediment rises. The facade can be structured by a doorway architecture with pilasters (rectangular column), capitals (detail at the top of the column or column cap) and attic (facade at the top) or other decorative elements. We sure had a lot to learn about architecture!

Caves which Bedouins still use to burn fires and meditate today. You can see the black on the outside of the rock which indicates there have been fires burned there. While it is not technically legal to live in Petra, the authorities do not move the Bedouin’s out, since they are nomadic and will leave eventually on their own.

The narrow Siq gorge which leads into Petra. The Siq resulted from a natural splitting of the mountain; this section of the trail down into Petra is 1.2 km long. There used to be a triumphal arch across the Siq which once spanned the entrance to it. Two water channels run along both sides of the Siq to capture drinking water. The Siq also has an old rock road that was built by the Nabataeans which was a bit slippery with the rain we were experiencing.

You can see the difference in the pavement from the smooth surface on the right to the rocky surface on the left.

Our guide is standing on the old road as he points out something interesting to me. It was really raining hard at this point of our tour and expected to rain all day!

We asked our guide to take a photo of us while there were no other people in our photo. Petra is a very busy place with over 1 million visitors annually coming to wonder at this ancient marvel!

Taking photos of people was not our guide’s first rodeo. He took 3 photos to show the size of Petra vs the size of the two of us.

Big Al (the) Siq.

Medium Al Siq

We look huge against The Siq. My Vessi Canadian running shoes were amazing! They are water proof and my feet were not wet at all. I wear ‘Darn Tough’ pure wool, cushioned socks (with a lifetime guarantee) to make sure I do not get any blisters from all the walking we are doing. Richard’s feet in his Sketchers ‘Tony Romo’ walking shoes unfortunately were wet. It really pays to get a good pair of waterproof walking shoes since there is nothing worse than having wet feet and socks and an entire day of having uncomfortable wet, feet. You can see a close up of the stone path we are standing on.

Our guide pointed out that there were naturally occurring images in the stones as we walked through Al Siq.

What do you see here? A fish!

And here? An elephant missing part of his trunk. Interesting that the same stone can look like a fish from the side, and an elephant from the front!

Petra is known as the ‘rose-red’ city and gets its name for the wonderful colour of the rock that many of the city’s structures were carved from. Lucky for us, the rain had washed away lawyers of dust that blow over the red rocks, and the colours of the stones were magnificent today!

Amazing detail in the red rocks of Petra.

Detailed carvings that remain in the rocks in Petra.

Stone steps carved into the rocks in Petra.

Our guide was very clever and gave us two options for how we wanted to see our first glimpse of ‘The Treasury’ (Al Khazna). He said we could 1) walk and look ahead and catch the corner glimpse of The Treasury as we walked through the narrow Al Siq; or 2) we could keep our heads down and he would guide us through Al Siq and then position us for the perfect first glimpse of The Treasury. We elected option 2 and we are glad we did!

Al Khazna better known as ‘The Treasury’, carved out of the rocks, which is known as Petra’s most magnificent facade. The Treasury is almost 40 metres or 131 feet high and is intricately decorated with Corinthian capitals, friezes, figures and more. The Treasury is crowned by a funerary urn, which according to local legend conceals a pharaoh’s treasure. If you look closely at the top section you can see bullet holes in the structure where robbers in the past, believing there was treasure there, have shot at this section of the structure. The time frame that is estimated for the Treasury’s construction is 1st century BC. The Treasury is a mausoleum and crypt and not a building where money was exchanged by the ancient Nabataeans. On the top are four eagles that would carry away the souls of the dead . There are dancing Amazons as well carved into the rocks, with double-axes and the statues on the bottom between the left two columns and right two columns are known as ‘Castor and Pollux’ the twin half brothers who lived partly on Mount Olympus and partly in the Underworld. The inside of the structure is pretty plain and consists of a main chamber and three antechambers. The structure is believed to have been the mausoleum of the Nabataean King Aretas IV. I have no idea why anyone was walking inside the Treasury building when I took this photo, because it is not allowed, so the guards must not have been watching them.

Petra was annexed by the Roman Empire and thrived until a large earthquake in 363 AD destroyed much of the city in the 4th century AD. The earthquake, combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city, which was eventually abandoned. By the middle of the 7th century Petra appears to have been largely deserted and it was lost to all except for some local Bedouin from the area. In 1812 a Swiss explorer named Johannesburg Burckhardt set out to ‘rediscover’ Petra; he dressed up as an Arab and convinced his Bedouin guide to take him to the lost city. After this rediscovery, Petra became increasingly known in the West as a fascinating and beautiful ancient city, and it began attracting visitors with a small hotel opening in Petra in the 1920’s. While Petra was not as popular as larger more central cities like Cairo with its pyramids, tourism started to change the economy and structure of the Bedouin people who lived nearby. Tourism is now the main source of income in Jordan with many hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants and horse rental services all found within a few-mile radius of Petra. The 1989 movie ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, uses the facade of The Treasury which is represented as the entrance to the final resting place of the Holy Grail. A 3D model of the Treasury can be viewed at ‘The Zamiani Project’ if you want more information on the detailed carving of The Treasury.

A close up of The Treasury. The left column has been repaired as we could see the bricks through the plaster.

As with any tourist attraction there are always the people who try to make money off the attraction.

For a few extra dollars tourists can climb up the cliff and have their picture taken with The Treasury in the background.

Margaret shared her photo with me.

I like this perspective on The Treasury building to understand how big it is, compared to the size of the people! I’m glad Margaret paid the extra money so I had these shots!

Camels coming in hot! For a few more dollars people were paying a Bedouin person to sit on a camel in front of The Treasury. The camels stunk to high heaven and they were snorting and frankly I was having non of it, since the saddles were wet with the rain and the camels in my opinion looked a bit worse for wear and shouldn’t be used as a tourist attraction.

More ways to make money at Petra! Donkey rides for the tourists! We did not do this either.

And of course what would Petra be without souvenir hawkers!

The guy in the foreground is raking the rocks so people had better access to the souvenir shops.

More souvenir stands. I didn’t try the Arabic kohl eyeliner but we did see bedouins wearing the kohl eyeliner.

And my favourite to replace the elephant pants everyone is now wearing on the Neptune….camel pants!

Once we passed all of the souvenir vendors, we were able to get back to business walking down ‘The Street of Facades’. There are over 40 tombs and houses built by the Nabataeans in a ‘crow step’ style of Assyrian architecture. The tomb with the big round hole at the top is unusual as it has a funeral chamber in the upper storey, instead of the typical lower chamber.

We kept walking through The Street of Facades and we came upon a beautiful amphitheatre.

’The Theatre’ is a 1st Century AD Nabataean theatre situated 600 metres from the centre of Petra. A substantial part of the Theatre was carved out of solid rock, while the stage and exterior wall were constructed. The theatre’s auditorium consists of three horizontal sections of seats separated by passageways and seven stairways to ascend. The theatre amazingly could accommodate 8,500 people! The Theatre was built to bring the greatest number of tombs into view and is the only carved theatre in the world. The Romans rebuilt the back wall of The Theatre to add more ‘box’ seats and in doing so, had to remove remains in tombs, to do their construction or deconstruction as the case may be.

On the opposite side of the walkway from The Theatre are ’The Royal Tombs’.

‘The Urn Tomb’ derived its name from the jar that crowns the pediment (triangular gable). The estimated time of construction was 70 AD. The tomb is preceded by a deep courtyard with colonnades on two sides. High up in the facade there are three niche that open into small burial chambers. In 446 AD the tomb was adapted to serve as a Byzantine church. We opted not to climb up to the Urn tomb or any of the Royal Tombs to make sure we maximized our time with our guide, to see more of Petra.

In order from left to right: Silk Tomb; Corinthian Tomb and Palace Tomb.

We were getting near the time to turn back because our guide told us the walk back to the Visitor’s Centre was going to take us 1 hour and 15 minutes to walk the 2.5 km. We wanted to see the Colonnaded Street though and the remains of the Great Temple, so we walked on a bit further.

Walking towards ’Qasr al-Bint‘ through the ‘Colonnaded Street’. The street represents an original Nabataean creation. Later the Romans would update the street, but this area was the ‘Souk’ or the main shopping area for Petra. Qasr al-Bint (The square building at the end of the photo above) was the main and most important temple in Petra. Dedicated to Dushara the temple stands 23 metres or 75 feet high today. The temple dates to the first half of the 1st century AD.

Richard talking to our tour guide before we left him to walk back to the Visitors Centre.

The Great Temple covers an area of 7,560 square metres and was completed in the early first century AD. Occupying a prime spot in Petra it is unclear whether the temple was a religious or administrative building.

We thanked our guide and Richard gave him a tip of $40USD for his time. It was time to hoof it back to the Visitors Centre because we still had to have lunch and then make the drive back to Wadi Rum.

We did the 2.5 km hike back to the Petra Visitors Centre in 45 minutes. We had to get out of the way of the golf carts that were shuttling people who could not do the walk back to the top, and of course stay out of the way of the lollipop groups that were walking slowly with their guides down through Al Siq. It was a very tough, uphill walk in the rain and at the speed we were doing it at, but we knew lunch was waiting for us, and we had to move on!

When we got back to the Visitors Centre I had to figure out how to get Faed’s phone number to show up on the phone he had given me. After playing around with the android phone for a few minutes, I was finally able to figure it out. Our driver Faed met us inside the lobby of the Movenpick hotel and he spoke with the staff at the Movenpick to give us a table for two in the restaurant. Our meal was complimentary as it was included in our tour price. We had to pay for drinks only.

The buffet at the Movenpick was fabulous! All different kinds of middle eastern food and a fabulous Jordanian dessert which I had never tried before.

‘Om Ali’. A traditional Egyptian dessert with pistachios. The dish can be traced back to around the 12th century in Egypt. Containing phyllo dough, puff pastry or toasted croissants, Milk, cinnamon and pistachio nuts. A recipe for the desert can be found here:

After paying for our soft drinks, it was time to meet Faed our driver to take us to Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum and its famous desert tourism industry was kick-started by the 1962 movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ which was filmed in Wadi Rum. ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘ also used the desert for the planet Pasaana. Tourists can stay overnight in glamping hotels set up in Bedouins style camps and all sorts of day trips can be booked to Wadi Rum.

We had a discussion with Faed about how much we could actually see at Wadi Rum also known as ‘Valley of the Moon’, since we were supposed to be on a 1.5 hour, 4x4 Jeep tour of Lawrence Spring, Sand Dunes, Khazali Canyon and Little Bridge. Based on our timing since Wadi Rum is at least 45-60 minutes from the port of Aqaba, we were running out of time to do the Jeep tour. Luckily our guide Faed made a compromise and took us to the spot where the tourist train is located in Wadi Rum.

At Wadi Rum, tourists sit in the train and watch as a staged re-enactment battle of the 1916 battle: Arabs launching a revolt against the oppression of the Ottoman Empire’s government, demanding freedom and independence.

Richard, Mr. Lawrence of Arabia! A ‘Wadi’ is a low dry valley in Arabic.

Turkish flag representing the Ottoman Empire on the old train car at Wadi Rum.

Artsy shot of the old train wheels.

A close of of Wadi Rum.

Footsteps in the sand at Wadi Rum. I made the footsteps, so I could take this iconic shot.

We had to leave after about 15 minutes of wandering around Wadi Rum. Our 5pm back on board time was looming.

Faed knew we had a bit of time before 5pm though, so he thought he would show us around his hometown of Aqaba. He drove us around the downtown showing us his favourite seafood restaurant and the beach area he frequents, as well as the interesting Old Town. For a very special treat Faed brought us to his favourite sweet shop.

‘Anabtawi Sweets’ downtown Aqaba, Jordan.

Middle Eastern sweets!


I cannot resist good chocolate! I ended up buying just over 1/2 a kilo of these delicious chocolates!

Faed had wanted to get us some of his favourite ‘Knafeh‘ which is a Middle Eastern dessert made with spun pastry called kataifi, soaked in a sweet, sugar-based syrup called attar, and typically layered with cheese or with other ingredients such as clotted cream, pistachio nuts. Unfortunately the knafeh was going to take another hour before it would be ready and we did not have an hour (and I have had knafeh before), to wait.

Instead we had these delicacies! I’m looking a little worse for wear after a wet, long day in Petra!

We made it back to the ship by 4:50pm and went up to Deck 8 of the Neptune to take some photos of our sail away from Aqaba, Jordan.

We did not realize we were so close to 4 countries in the port of Aqaba. Israel is very close to Aqaba with Eilat, Israel being the cross border town to Aqaba, Jordan. Eilat, Israel to Taba, Egypt is only 21 minutes by car and Aqaba to Durra Border Crossing in Saudi Arabia is only 29 minutes away.

Eilat, Israel.

Aqaba, Jordan.

Wow! What a day! To say I was beyond excited to finally see Petra, was probably an understatement. With Petra being 12th on the top 40 things to see before you die, it was definitely up there on my Bucket List to visit once in my lifetime. We had such a wonderful day with our private tour of Petra and the ‘icing on the cake’ so to speak with our short time in Wadi Rum and quickly visiting Aqaba with our local driver. When we were driving down from Petra I had mentioned to Faed that we did not have any bananas on the Neptune for some reason. Faed stopped the car after we had been to the local sweet shop said he had to make a small errand and returned with 6 bananas for me to keep in our cabin. Now wasn’t that special, and a benefit of having a local, private driver who spoke excellent English and was an outstanding representative of both Jordon Horizons Tours as well as his country of Jordan. I wish we had more time to explore this fascinating country and to spend more time in Petra. One short day is not long enough to attempt to understand the ancient civilization of Petra, or the current country of Jordan.

Our next stop is Safaga, Egypt. Two days in a row of sensory and history overloa

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Apr 16, 2023

How could someone think your blog is boring?! I originally started reading this blog to learn more about life on the Neptune as we will be doing the "Trade Routes of the Middle Ages" cruise this fall but soon became became engrossed! I appreciate the research you've done on each location, such interesting history. I'm traveling vicariously through your post, thank you!


Apr 14, 2023

And here I am in New Zealand, a million miles away but walking alongside you.


Apr 14, 2023

I’m so enjoying your blog. You bring a country on a map to life. So much information and great photos that I feel I’m on the trip with you. I also like to read of your golf games. Thank you so much.


Allan Yoshimura
Allan Yoshimura
Apr 14, 2023

I'm not saying anything about culture! What a great day in spite of the rain. Too bad you had a 5pm back on board time. Last year, we were in port over night which would have made your private tour less rushed. Thanks for including Margaret's pictures. I never had that perspective of the Treasury. I too never learned about Petra in school. I was amazed how little I knew about such a fabulous place and civilization. Thanks for sharing and bringing back the memories!


Janet Leslie
Janet Leslie
Apr 14, 2023

Thank you for writing your brilliant blog. Petra was on my Bucket List but I never got there. Your blog was the next best thing….The amount of work you put into it is amazing!

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