Monday, March 7, 2016

On the Road to Petra


Another beautifully clear morning. Lots of leisure time since the boys weren't meeting us till 9. There
was some kind of convention at the hotel, so breakfast was a bit crowded. Last night I spotted 2 Jordanians who were dressed alike in track suits. I asked if they were on a team - it turned out they were the referees or officials of the football (soccer) game that was going to be played tomorrow -- Jordan vs. Iraq. It is strange to hear these names bandied about when my only relationship to them is from the news.

Started out this morning taking a tour through the "Beverly Hills" area of Amman. Huge villas with fancy cars -- lots of money in this town. Did a drive-by the American Embassy, which is more of a military installation. No photos -please -- too bad because it was something to see. Very heavy armor surrounding the place.

We had a long drive ahead of us - made a pit stop at the Petra Tourist Stop after about an hour from Amman.  While drinking our coffee, I noticed the hot sauce on the table was not Heinz. It was from Saudi Arabia. The store didn't have any to sell but the restaurant sold us a bottle.

Next we drove to Karak Castle. Explored the area where the crusaders took shelter, the stables, and kitchens - even the first evidence of a school in a castle:
It is one of the largest crusader castles in the Levant. Construction of the castle began in the 1140s, under PaganFulk of Jerusalem's butler. The Crusaders called it Crac des Moabites or "Karak in Moab", as it is frequently referred to in history books.
Paganus was also Lord of Oultrejordain (Transjordan), and Karak became the centre of his power, replacing the weaker castle of Montreal to the south. Because of its position east of the Dead Sea, Karak was able to control Bedouin herders as well as the trade routes from Damascus to Egypt and Mecca. His successors, his nephew Maurice and Philip of Milly, added towers and protected the north and south sides with two deep rock-cut ditches (the southern ditch also serving as a cistern). The most notable Crusader architectural feature surviving is the north wall, into which are built immense arched halls on two levels. These were used for living quarters and stables, but also served as a fighting gallery overlooking the castle approach and for shelter against missiles from siege engines. 
There was a restaurant on the premises run by Sudanese. Had a great lunch of fish and chips and of course, mezza. Not sure I have mentioned this before, but all the salads given before the main meal are called mezza. For the Sudanese, it was a mini-mezza. Instead of many dishes, we each received one plate of  reasonable portions.

There were two more spots to visit on our itinerary - another castle and a site with several churches. We cried UNCLE!! Enough churches and enough antiquities. We are booked at fabulous hotel overlooking the mountains of Petra - let's just go there.
getting close to Petra
So here we are at the Marriott getting ready to go to the steam/sauna to relax. Tonight after dinner, we will experience Petra at night. Looking forward to it.

Next time .... Petra


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