Indiana wants me – in Petra

//Indiana wants me – in Petra

It’s a relaxing day at sea on board the cruise ship Thomson Celebration, as we thread our way through the oil platforms of the Gulf of Suez en route to Port Sokhna in Egypt.
We left Aqaba in Jordan yesterday evening, most of the passengers subdued after their strenuous all-day excursion to the fabulous city of Petra. The monuments and tombs hewn into the red sandstone of a narrow valley hidden 3,000 ft up in the mountains may be familiar to anyone who has seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but the moment when the spectacular Treasury first becomes visible through the narrow entrance canyon is still a breathtaking experience.
The walk from the coach park and visitor centre is downhill all the way, and the route through the city itself continues down past a 3,000-seat theatre, a parade of royal tombs, and on to the Qasr al Bint temple and museum. Sadly there was no time to climb the 800 steps to the Monastery, whose facade is bigger than Westminster Cathedral (or so I was told), or to the High Place of Sacrifice, where animals and humans were killed to appease the gods.
petra taxi.jpgIn any case, spurning the local “taxis” – camels, donkeys and horses – there was enough uphill walking in order to return to the top of the canyon for lunch, where my Indiana Jones moment was made complete when I found myself sitting at the same table as a yound lad called Harrison.
Then it was on to what was promised as a local folklore show. No Bedouin music here, though – the local bagpipe and drum band performed such traditional favourites as Scotland the Brave and Amazing Grace, prompting a spontaneous outbreak of country dancing..
Back at the ship, after a two-hour drive along the Desert Highway, we were met by crew bearing hot towels and refreshing drinks, and a band playing a selection of welcoming tunes – a nice touch which other cruise lines would do well to copy.
Petra was not the only excursion available from Aqaba – some took the longer drive to spend a few hours basking in the Dead Sea; others took the shorter option of a visit to Wadi Rum, to leap into 4×4 vehicles and pulverise the desert sands once fought for by Lawrence of Arabia.
So today was an opportunity for breakfast in bed and a leisurely start to the morning – apart from the frantic few who were out on deck early on making sure they secured a prime position sunbed.
During the morning, cruise director Keith Maynard took to the stage to interview Captain Roy Dearman about his life at sea, and this evening the captain will be in the spotlight again as he hosts a cocktail reception and gala dinner – the only formal dress evening of the week.
Tomorrow will be another long day for many, with coaches leaving the quayside at 7.30 am for the two-and-a-half hour drive to Cairo and the Pyramids. I’ll let you know how we get on.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:33+00:00 24 January 2010|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

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John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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