Thursday, September 16, 2010

That place they filmed Indiana Jones Petra, Jordan

In French class we've been discussing fashion this week. My teacher (who is sweet and friendly and whom I like a lot) turned to me and asked (in French because this is French class), "Nikki, what about you? Do you like to shop at Dolce & Gabanna?" I was wearing Chaco flips*, jeans and a t-shirt that says "ponies are pretty." But I appreciate that she was trying to include me in the conversation. At least I think she was. She could have also been subtly mocking me.

But ponies are pretty.

I like these ones. They live in Jordan. 

We're not ponies. We're horses. I can't believe Nikki wanted to be a wildlife biologist. Petra, 2009

Speaking of Jordan, you should go to Petra.

Here's why:

  1. Indiana Jones went. I should just end the list right here. 
  2. You can ride a camel. I don't like riding camels, but you might.
  3. It's amazing. Normally I wouldn't recommend listening to me because I often get lost, I sometimes  frequently run into things, and I once got my car stuck on a beach. But many other people say Petra is amazing so I feel okay about telling you to listen to me. Just this once. 
  4. The Bedouin men wear eyeliner. Ok, it's kohl. And it was originally worn to protect one's eyes from the intensity of the sun. But the material point is that they all look like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. I love Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. 
Petra, 2009 

I visited Petra last November while I was in Jordan for a conference (that's where I met British guy, but British guy didn't go on the trip to Petra because it was a girls only trip. Also I didn't know him when we were planning it. But it was mostly because it was a girls only trip and he's not a girl. I checked.) 

While in Amman, we stayed at an ibis hotel. It was nice except, for some reason, all of the sockets were British sockets. As far as I know, the rest of Jordan uses European sockets. From Amman we took a bus to Petra. It took about 3 hours and is a very straightforward way to get to Petra. In Petra we stayed at the Orient Gate Hostel and Hotel. You shouldn't stay there unless you are broke and looking for a cheap place to stay (if you are broke and looking for a cheap place, it's about 9 euro a night and it's decent. The owner is nice.) If you aren't broke, you should stay at the Mövenpick Hotel & Resort. I didn't stay there, but I did go to the bar on their roof. They have campari, which I love. Especially after a long day of pretending to be Indiana Jones hiking. The lobby was nice. So were the elevators. I once got stuck in an elevator in Istanbul. Maybe I'll tell you about it tomorrow. It was an extremely traumatic experience and I am now scarred for life. 

So, the moral of the story is...I don't know what the moral of the story is. Stay at the Mövenpick and drink campari. Also, watch out for rogue elevators in Istanbul. 

This donkey isn't really related to anything I was talking about. I just think he's cute. 

But continuing with our adventure in Petra. After checking into our hostel we set off immediately for the archaeological park. As we were walking there, we passed a second-hand shop. They had nylon track suits from the 80's. Wonderful-pastel-neon-parachute-pants-plastic-zip-awesomeness. I was traveling with an Aussie and another American.** The Aussie and I immediately decided we needed these suits for our upcoming camel trek in Wadi Rum. The other American was far more sensible and opted out. I, however, am not sensible. I am ridiculous. And I like ridiculous things. Like riding camels in 80's nylon track suits. Because then 50 years later I can call my friends and say, "Hey! Remember that time I rode through the Jordanian desert on a camel in a nylon track suit from the 80's? That was classic." 

Things like that make me happy. Blame my parents. Or Monty Python. Or the 80's. Or all of the above. 

So we made plans to stop by the shop on our way back. Because at that moment we were off to Petra and nothing was going to dissuade us. Not even fabulous, used track suits from the 80's. And they were fabulous.

The Treasury, Petra, 2009

Anyway. Back to Petra. Petra is absolutely fricking incredible. Seriously. The structures were breathtaking. You just can't even imagine how humans were able to accomplish such feats with such limited tools. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the Treasury or the Monastery. It's also easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of people trying to sell you things. The first day we saw the treasury, walked around and refused camel rides, horse rides, postcards, carriage rides, donkey rides, guides, Indiana Jones hats, marriage proposals, and other assorted offerings. After watching the sunset, we headed back to the hostel through the darkening canyons and somehow ended up at the bar at the Mövenpick because I like to take my own advice. Campari. Lots of it. Unfortunately the used clothing store was closed by the time we got back so we had to defer the purchase of our fab camel riding suits. 

Petra, 2009

We had shawarma at the El Siwan restaurant for lunch and dinner. It was delicious. And this you should trust me on because  I love  LOVE shawarma and would probably eat it every day given the option. Incidentally the best  second-best shawarma I have ever had was in Germany. The best ever was in Bethlehem.  I nearly cried. It was that delicious. 

The next morning we got up at 6:00 a.m. I'm not sure why. Actually I think we intended to get up at 6:00 a.m. but we didn't actually get up until 7:00 because...well, because 6:00 a.m. is early. Too early. 

We headed back to the archaeological park and spent the day getting lost, getting caught in a sandstorm (I use the word "sandstorm" here very loosely. Extremely loosely. It was probably just a slight breeze and I got sand in my eye.), hiked up to the Monastery and generally had a fantastic time. 

The Monastery, Petra, 2009

The Monastery, Petra, 2009

We bought a two-day pass. It was a little bit expensive (57 Jordanian dinar/81 USD/61 Euro for two days), BUT it's like nothing you've ever seen (it's also a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985) and the tourism industry is important for the Jordanians. And Indiana Jones was filmed there. And the Bedouin men all look like Johnny Depp. It's worth it. 

"So. Come here often?" Sorry. Once again, totally unrelated to post. 

After two days of exploring Petra we were ready for our next adventure. But first we needed to purchase our camel-riding suits. The shop was open and we expressed our interest in the 80's track suits. The shopkeeper expressed interest in a lot more money than we were willing to pay for used track suits from the 80's. So we were forced to give up the dream of riding through the Jordanian desert in neon and pastel nylon. Heartbroken, we consoled ourselves as best as we could with kanafeh and left the next morning for Wadi Rum. Where I discovered that a two-day camel trek is not nearly as cool as it sounds. Even if you spend the entire time pretending to be Lawrence of Arabia. 

Petra, 2009

* Chaco flips = my favorite shoes EVER. I wear them everywhere and I adore them. And no, Chaco isn't paying me to say this. I just think the world would be a happier place if everyone was wearing Chaco flips.

** I don't normally refer to people solely by their nationality. It's just that while I have no qualms posting pictures of myself imitating an otter on the Internet, I realize that not everyone enjoys guest starring in someone else's blog so I try not to use names or post pictures of other people unless I have their permission. 


RyRo said...

"I don't like riding camels, but you might."

I feel like there is more to this statement. Why, exactly, do you not like riding camels?

Jessie Oliver said...

Ok, I will take note... no camel ride when I arrive! I would have loved to see a picture of you in an 80's track suit in a camel. Maybe next time :)

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