While in Cairo we also went to a papyrus making demonstration at a local artist's studio, got a lesson in Egyptian essence, took a Vegas-style dinner cruise down the Nile, and sweated buckets in the hot, dusty Eqyptian museum. Eventually though, we had to leave the Cradle of Civilization and travel deeper into the Holy Land - namely, Jordan.
The flight from Cairo to Amman was 1.5 hours and then we immediately drove 3.5 hours from Amman to the small village of Petra in the mountains. When I've mentioned to people that we visited Petra, some light up with recognition and some have no idea what I'm talking about. If you've ever seen the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you know what I'm talking about. They filmed the last few scenes of the movie at Petra.
But hold on a minute because now I'm getting ahead of myself.
We arrived in Petra rather late and immediately checked into our hotel. Our "hotel" was freaking awesome. It's called Taybet Zaman. It is a restored and converted 19th Century Ottoman village. Each stone house within the village has been converted into a guest room. It's built into the side of the mountain and has spectacular views of the Negev desert and mountains.
Here are some pictures of our hotel and our room. We had our very own enclosed courtyard complete with olive trees and water fountain. Our room was spacious and furnished with local Bedouin textiles and furniture.
Okay, so I got a little camera-happy upon arrival at our room. It was just so unique and so unlike anywhere I had ever stayed. After I recovered from falling in love with Taybet Zaman, we ate dinner in the village restaurant, and then spent the evening strolling through the old stone streets. The village contains a pool and a Turkish bath house, plenty of terraces and gardens, a nightclub, and one narrow street containing small shops of local handicrafts. At sundown the air was cooler and you could smell honeysuckle mingling with the smell of stones that had been baking in the sun all day. The distant, but distinct prayer call at the local mosque echoed throughout the valley, and the whole atmosphere gave me goosebumps.
I can't adequately explain it. Everything felt so rich, tactile, multi-dimensional...and OLD. What can I say? I like old.