Petra and Wadi Rum (December 31st - January 5th)
(Petra - Wadi Rum)
Distance biked so far: (6,059 km)
In 2008, a world-wide survey was completed to determine the new 7 man-made wonders of the world and although it ended up being a popularity contest, there is little doubt that Petra deserved to be one of the sites selected. Petra ("rock" in Arabic) is famous for architecture cut out of rock and would be recognizable to anyone familiar with the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie.
The site is massive and requires a lot of walking or alternatively you can get donkey, horse or camel rides. On Friday I set off to discover the remains alone as Elan told me the night before that she wanted to get there before anyone else arrived and I wasn't quite as keen.
The most famous and impressive ruin is the Treasury but before you get your first glimpse you have to walk a 1,500 meter narrow Siq (a natural split in the sandstone rocks) with the towering cliffs reaching up to 200 meters above and in places the gap overhead is only a few meters.
The hike is spectacular and you can feel the excitement in the air as people slowly make their way to the end and the first glimpse of the Treasury. Many people walk with guides and they always stop just before the opening reveals the impressive structure.
The Treasury is over 40 meters high and was carved out of solid rock. It was constructed in the 1st Century B.C. It struck me after spending the last few months in the Middle East and seeing the current construction standards, that the people of today could not duplicate the building over 2,000 years later. It really is something that takes your breath away.
On the top level of the Treasury there is an Urn and legend has it that it contains a treasure and the bullet holes that surround it reveal the vain attempts to blast it open. The purpose of the building is a mystery but it was not used as a Treasury. There is a general belief that it was used either as a temple or royal tomb.