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J or Jumble
Half a dozen years ago, Anthony and I took a sabbatical and travelled through much of Europe with detours to the Middle East and North Africa. I have written on several occasions about the main impetus for travelling to the Middle East was the desire to visit the famous Bakdash ice cream salon in Damascus. We travelled with friends on a small tour where the operator got you from A-B and fairly much left you to your own devices. At the start of the tour, the (Australian) guide asked us what was the one thing we wanted to see. I said an ice cream shop but many others said Petra, in Jordan. I know where my priorities lie. Still, Petra was a bit of an added bonus.
A lot has been written about the ‘rose red city half as old as time’ so you can do your own research if you want to learn more but I will tell you two things. Amazingly, this ancient city dating back to antiquity was only re-discovered again by most of the world in 1812, when it was stumbled upon by Swiss explorer Johan Ludwig Burkhardt. One can only imagine the sheer wonderment when he came through the narrow pass of the Siq and beheld The Treasury for the first time.
The second thing I’ll tell you about Petra is that every one of the superlatives that have ever been used to describe it are fully justified. Amazing. Grand. Ancient Wonder. Towering. Nothing can prepare you for the experience of walking through the Siq, just as Burkhardt did, a little over 200 years ago. The Treasury is the first grand building encountered and is the postcard hero but there are so many carved buildings and monuments, hidden caves and ruins that you don’t know where to look or how to spend your time. We spent two days in Petra and barely touched the surface. Anthony was dedicated and visited very early in the morning before most of the tourists arrived and climbed up above the Treasury to take this great photo. Most are taken from below, which only adds to the imposing presence.
Bakdash has now migrated along with thousands of Syrian expats, to Jordan. These days, you can visit Petra via Google Street View but it’s not quite the same, is it?