I couldn’t be in North Africa without heading to Egypt and seeing the pyramids. Being so close I figured I might as well pop over to Jordan as well and visit Petra to see even more old stones.
Egypt, like Morocco, is pretty darned hot, not as hot but still definitely still far from my comfort zone. I arrived incredibly early in the morning and figured I’ll try to take the public bus from the airport to the city centre. For some reason the buses weren’t running until much later and I ended up (to my own detriment) trusting a man who worked at the bus depot. Short story short he ripped me off. The worst thing about it was the fact that it was my first encounter with Egyptian people and not only this he tried to convince me in the car how dangerous Cairo was (yeah because of people like him) which was incredibly wrong. Apart from him, who kept trying to convince himself that he’s a good man, everybody I have met on the streets, at the hostel and so on has been very friendly. Sure a few are just trying to get you to buy their wares but I’ve also bumped into people who just want to practice their english and chat.
Moving swiftly on. I spent the entire day sleeping in the hostel and then managed to arrange my trip to the Pyramids. Went to see them, then the Sphinx, some old Orthodox churches, a very large mosque based on one in Turkey and then the Egyptian Museum. Whilst the Pyramids are impressive in their own right they lacked the awe and wonder I felt from the Great Wall or Machu Picchu. As mentioned before I think part of this is due to the effort made to reach the other sites increases your sense of achievement and enjoyment. Either way they are formidable structures.
Heading to the churches it reminded me of my time in church and also when I visit Greece with my family, mostly due to the incense. They were pretty and a lot more peaceful than the Pyramids offering a cooler atmosphere and somewhere to sit for a while. Checking out another of the big 3 we headed over towards a gigantic mosque (they charged for entry unlike the church) that overlooks the city. One thing I really like about mosques is that when people aren’t praying there’s so much space. The lack of clutter and high domes made it very breezy inside. We spoke a little about the history of Islam and Egypt (as my guide was Christian) and whilst I do find the history of religion pretty interesting that’s a conversation for another time.
Now for a bit more history and relics we went to the Egyptian Museum. You can see mummified animals (the crocodiles were mammoth) and royals alongside all their prized possessions and a copy of the Rosetta stone. A lot of the time was spent saying “we have x/x of the relics here, the rest are in the British Museum” which I found rather funny. I understand the importance of keeping cultural heritage within its place of origin but also when things are more likely to be stolen I would argue that it is better to keep them in a more secure facility. Just like Machu Picchu many artefacts were stolen from the sites by locals, archaeologists etc.
A short flight an I’m in Jordan. Very short trip here as well spending my first night in Amman just to sleep and recover after an early morning flight and then heading down to see Petra. The little I saw of Amman was nice, very quiet and the streets were covered in jasmine which made a pleasant change to the sweating trash of recent cities.
Waking up late with my alarm failing to stir me I had to run (to the point of my chest exploding) towards the bus station to get my bus to Petra. Fortunately I made it and got arrived just after 10. I spent the day wandering around (which wasn’t very exciting as there’s not much to do) and relaxing in my hostel getting ready for another early morning departure towards the site.
Bright and early, and much cooler, I made my way to the entrance avoiding many of the crowds which made it slightly more peaceful. Petra is an impressive place, not just the carvings made in the sides but also the general make up of the environment is pretty cool. You walk through alleys of rock with the occasional tree poking out of the side offering shelter from the sweltering sun. As with any of these sites there’s plenty of people pleading with you to buy their wares. The main problem here is that the dinar (currency in Jordan) is incredibly expensive. It’s the first one in my travels were you get less than 1 to the pound. As I didn’t have a tour guide and haven’t actually read up on it I can’t say much more than what I saw, and pictures always do a better job of showing you so I’ll just do that. As with other epic sites though the photos don’t truly do it justice.