Posts Tagged ‘Ruins’

Petra and Wadi Rum

I was around ten or eleven when I first watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  One of my favorite scenes was when Harrison Ford and Sean Connery rode up to an ancient building carved out of the mountainside to find the Holy Grail.  I can vividly remember thinking ‘Wow! I want to go there!’  Of course I didn’t know at the time that ‘there’ was the Treasury building located in an ancient Nabatean city in the Jordanian desert called Petra that I would visit 20 years later on an around the world trip.

To reach the city itself, you enter through the ‘Siq’ – a narrow gorge that winds through towering cliffs of rust, brown, red, and rose colored sandstone cliffs.   The colors of the rock are incredible!  As you approach the end of the Siq, you catch your first glimpse of the Treasury – a intricate facade carved into sheer rockface, which I had been told is one of the greatest ‘reveals’ on the planet.  I was not disappointed; seeing the magnificent Treasury (which is actually a tomb for a Nabatean king) up close and personal was a childhood dream come true for me. 

A glimpse of the Treasury walking through the Siq


The Treasury

The rest of the city was equally if not more impressive. Vast tombs, a theatre, churches, and a towering monastary all carved into the sides of mountains; this place is truly spectacular and I could have easily spent several days exploring all that it had to offer.   This is one of the bummers about doing an organized tour…if you like a place and want to spend more time checking it out, you’re screwed.   Overall, it was one hot, sweaty, and facinating day!

The Monastary
 Walking up to some tombs carved into the mountains

At one of the mountain viewpoints of Petra

The following morning we continued down the King’s Hwy and into the Wadi Rum desert – 720 square kilometer preserve of desert wilderness and mountains.   I was super pumped for our ‘desert jeep safari’ and spending the night in a Bedouin camp under millions of desert stars.   Of course, Kelly and I have had nothing but great luck with the weather on this trip, so the day that we were set to spend in Wadi Rum, there was a fricken SAND STORM.   We still had our jeep safari, speeding over sand dunes, dodging camels (yes, there were a ton of camels just chillin’ in the desert), and attempted to watch the sunset, but didn’t have much luck with the views (or photos for that matter) as the sand in the air created a hazy cloud across the whole area.   It was a bit of a let down, but what can you do?

Sandy Jeep Safari






Making a fire to boil tea

We didn’t see any desert stars that night either, but we did eat a delicious Bedouin meal of lamb and chicken, cooked with hot coals and buried underground.   I shared a bottle of wine with Ian from England (on the down-low…no alcohol allowed in the camps) and despite the fact that I had my own tent, slept outside next to the fire.   As a result of the strong winds, I woke up covered in black ash, which was awesome.   After packing up our things, the group hit the road again to the Red Sea resort town of Aqaba.

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Ruins and More Ruins

Kelly and I said good-bye to Seth and spent a few more days in Olympus checking out the local ruins, lying on black pebble beach, drinking copious amounts of Efes, and hanging out with new friends. We eventually managed to peel ourselves from the treehouse hammocks and made our way to the small village of Pamukkale. 

Pamukkale, meaning ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, is famous for the ancient ruins of Heirapolis, its hot springs and travertines – terraces made of carbonate mineral deposits left by the flowing spring water. The travertine pools hold hot spring water, which people had been bathing in for thousands of years for their medicinal qualities until it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Apparently, some jerks built a hotel above the travertines, and all of the construction and foot traffic did significant damage to the terraces. In 1988, the hotel was torn down, the road was removed and now no swimming is allowed except in the fake, man-made pools. 

Kelly and I were also disappointed to find out that in order to help rejuvenate the carbon deposits, the water had been drained out of most of the natural pools…the visuals weren’t quite what we were expecting. Nonetheless, we had a great day wandering amongst the beautiful white terraces and checking out the ruins of Heirapolis. 

White Terraces

Some of the natural pools have a little water in them

Ruins of Heirapolis

The Theater at Hierapolis

Our next stop was the town of Selcuk, the main purpose here being to see the ruins of Ephesus. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, which later developed into the second largest city of the Roman Empire. The ruins were very impressive and we spent an extremely hot morning meandering through the old theatres, temples, and roadways, which were packed full of awesome looking tourists. 

How incredible is this guy???

Library of Celsus at Ephesus

The Theater

That afternoon and the next day were spent lounging at the pool of our fantastic hostel. The owner, Atilla, kept us stuffed with homemade Turkish cuisine cooked by his own mother and spent the evenings entertaining us at the hostel bar serving us too many drinks, playing old 8o’s and 90’s tunes, and giving us wigs to wear. Don’t ask. 

Since there wasn’t much else in town to see, Kelly and I hopped a bus over to the resort town of Bodrum to meet up with a couple of friends we met in Olympus.

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