Cool! More Priority Awards Points! The Crowne Plaza Petra is one of the most unique hotels you will ever see. In addition to its 147 deluxe rooms, it sports 31 newly renovated hillside chalets and 41 guesthouse rooms tucked into the Petra rock face overlooking the visitor’s entrance to Petra itself. This was the first Crowne Plaza hotel in Jordan, so it’s something of a milestone (ha!) for the Bass Family, which owns the Crowne Plaza hotel chain.
Today when we woke up, it was raining! Giles, the trip leader, says that this is the first time he’s seen it rain in four trips. It was really coming down there for awile, too.
This made our first stop a bit uncomfortable – the Castle at Mukawir where Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded after Salome’s dance. The walk up to the hilltop ruins wasn’t too bad, but the view wasn’t worth it because of the rain. What was really amazing was to see how completely the Romans destroyed the castle when they took it over in the 1st century BC. Everything but the foundation was not only torn down, but they actually took the time to toss everything off the side of the mountain. There’s a huge pile of rubble at the bottom. Of course, you know I had fun exploring all the caves in the mountain on the way up. Most of them were simple rooms carved out of the rock, and had evidence of recent occupation, either by goats or by their masters – we even saw some caves that were still clearly being lived in. Amazing to see people living like that. I had to stop and wonder if this was the same planet for them as it was for us – with me going into withdrawals for lack of a DSL connection. Kinda puts things in perspective a bit.
Then we drove to Kerak, and enjoyed a nice lunch next to the castle. I have to say that the worst thing about Kerak is that I couldn’t spend a whole day there. The crusader-built castle there is mostly intact, and you could spend at least an hour exploring its tunnels, or a half-day if you insist on slithering into every nook and cranny just to see where it leads, like i do. Just wait until you see the pictures.
From Kerak, we drove south to Petra, which took about two and a half hours. It’s easy to tell that our group is getting more comfortable with each other, because there were several heated arguments over politics and religion going on at one time while we were in the bus. We all ended up friends, though, and when we arrived at the hotel, enjoyed a nice dinner in its restaurant and then hit the sack for an early day tomorrow in Petra.by