Our second day in Jordan saw us waking up in the fantastic Taybet Zaman hotel with a view looking out across the desert. This hotel was ever so slightly different from the Marriott we stayed in when in Amman as instead of the glitz and glamour found at the Marriot, this hotel used to be a village and so all of the hotel’s rooms are in old stone buildings. Very rustic and right up my street. It’s nice to be able to experience something just that little bit different. The hotel came into existence when the mayor of the village realised that his village was struggling financially and the Jordan Tourism Investment Group made an offer to turn this rural farming village into a hotel whilst maintaining a cooperative relationship with the inhabitants of the village. The result of this is a truly amazing hotel that I would recommend to everyone visiting Petra.
After our buffet breakfast we got a taxi down into the town to start our guided tour of Petra. We had a private guide which meant we could wander at our own pace and ask all the questions we had floating around in our heads. I would really recommend getting a guide as he told us so many stories and theories and so much information that wasn’t available on information boards. 5 stars for this!
Petra was incredible and I’ll definitely have to go back. One day wasn’t nearly long enough! I turned into a little geology nerd whilst I was there as I found the different colours within the rocks absolutely fascinating. There was an amazing toilet carved into the mountain side with natural red and blue striped stone walls – not your average toilet. The one thing that got to me and spoiled the day slightly was the amount of children I saw trying to sell bits of stone they had taken from the tombs. Our guide told us not to buy anything from there as education is free and giving them money will only encourage them to carry on selling instead of going to school. I also saw so many donkeys getting beaten on the neck with thick metal chains. Seeing an animal cowering away from someone who is beating it is heartbreaking and made me so angry. The authorities say they are working to try and eliminate animal cruelty in Petra but I think there is still a long way to go.
On a happier note, in the evening we went to Petra Kitchen for a cookery class. We were in a group of 25-30 people and split into two tables to learn how to prepare traditional Jordanian dishes. I can’t say I learnt very much other than how to peel an onion very quickly (I’ll admit it is a pretty nifty trick!) as the main dish and soup were cooked on a stove away from the tables and we were left to prepare the mezze. My favourite dishes were the cheese and thyme pastries (pretty self explanatory) and the Galaya Bandura (cooked tomatoes with various spices and some egg added in for a bit of a change). I think the highlight of my night was when we were sitting down eating at the communal table after having slaved away chopping vegetables to create all the dishes and watching my mum’s face as the couple next to me had a little marital spat. Hiding her feelings is not her forte and so this provided much entertainment.