Friday, April 25, 2014

Day 105 - Aqaba, Jordan

Friday, April 25

I was awakened at 7:45 by a blast of Arabian music that I think was coming from the tugboat that was outside my room.  I had planned on getting up at 8:45 in preparation for my tour that started at 9:30.  I went back to bed for about a half an hour but then got ready while watching the morning show.

The main attraction (for cruise ships) of Aqaba is the Lost City of Petra.  It is one of the seven wonders of the world.  Unfortunately for me, the main way of getting there and back to the bus is a four to five mile walk in the heat (today was predicted to be 100F/38C).  I knew at least a year ago that I would not be capable of doing the walk.  There are horses, mules, donkey carts, and possibly camels that can be hired to take you in but there are parts where they are not allowed.  Cunard discourages you from these methods because they want you to stay with the tour guide.  And for those who know me, can you really see me on any of those?

Since I knew I would not be going to Petra, I chose the "Aqaba City and Wadi Rum" excursion.  We started with a tour of the city, going to the beach area, the Archaeological Museum and the site of the old city of Ayla.  We had some free time at each of these to look around on your own which I really like because you can concentrate on what interests you, not the tour guide.

We then drove for about an hour out into the desert and mountains to Wadi Rum.  We saw a number of small villages in a very inhospitable locale.  We stopped to see the 1916 train which supposedly was featured in Lawrence of Arabia which was filmed in this area.  (A number of movies were filmed here and we actually saw a film crew filming a different train.)

On the drive the guide told us about Jordan's four main problems.  These include the lack of water, they have no oil,  only about 20% of the country is green, and the number of Syrians that have come as refugees.

Our destination was a Bedouin "camp" that serves a typical local luncheon and provides glimpses of life here.  Luckily, the bathroom facilities were very western and had running water.  The large tent also had a couple of air conditioners (one of which I sat in front of with two of my CC friends, Andrea and John).  The sky was rather overcast while we were there which kept it from being as hot as predicted.

There were a number of salads, vegetables, chicken, meat (that we hoped was lamb) and honey laced deserts.  It was actually a very good meal.  There were two musicians (who actually played a number of Christmas songs as well as local music), a number of camels, and a man making desert scenes of sand in a bottle.

We returned to the ship a little after three and I considered going into town on the shuttle but decided I did not really need to get anything so I went to the pub and had a Pepsi instead.

4:15 trivia was poorly attended and terribly hard.  There were two questions asking who was the Prime Minister of Britain when an obscure event took place (like when one of Pink Floyd's albums - can't remember its name - came out).  I only had five correct (I think that is my worst trivia ever).

After that I went back to my stateroom for some balcony time.  Aqaba is Jordan's only seaside town and right across from my balcony was the city of Eilat in Israel (on the Sinai Peninsula).  A little down the coast is Egypt on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other.

Although I am not going to the main dining room for dinner, I did shower and change so I would conform with the dress code.  I was waiting for trivia to start when Judy came up and said she and her husband were playing and did I want to join.  I did and we had eleven out of 21 correct.  (What is added to cheddar cheese to make Ilchester cheese?).  They had done the Petra trip and said one person in their group fainted and they heard an ambulance had to be called for someone else.

Dinner in the Lido.  It was German themed and only so-so.

We sailed at 9:35 (all aboard was 9:30 so everyone got back promptly.  Although the pirate restrictions will not be lifted for two more days, we were allowed to stay out on the deck.  About 10:30 I picked up my OJ and came back to the stateroom.

Again I have two posts to fit in my pictures.

Views of Aqaba

part of the old fort built in 13th century

remains of the city of Ayla


Smooth sailing until next time!

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