, like many other Middle Eastern countries, has a spirit of hospitality from which the rest of the world could learn. Welcome is the word on everyone's lips when you arrive.
We were certainly made to feel welcome on a recent trip to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The holiday was taken with the main intention of seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the ancient Nabataea city of Petra. From Larnaca airport we flew into Queen Alia Amman international airport
where we were able to collect cheap Rhino cars through the agencies of Avis or Hertz. Jordan's capital city Amman is much more relaxed and manageable than somewhere like Cairo as well as being cleaner and for the most part more modern.
There is less noise, less confusion and driving is relatively safe and logical. From the city it is a three or five hour drive to Petra, depending on which road you take. The Desert Highway is quicker (as the name suggests most of the Jordanian countryside is in fact desert) but tourists will probably prefer to take the more scenic route along King's Highway. This passes the Dead Sea on the left, a narrow strip of water which is between the eastern border of Israel with Jordan. The Dead Sea is one of the lowest points on earth and its water is extremely salty.
The Dead Sea scrolls were found here and the area has much religious significance. Looking over the Dead Sea is a figure-shaped stone thought to be Lot's wife. She was turned to a pillar of salt for daring to look back when God drove her out of Sodom and Gomorra. There is a great feeling to be had from floating weightlessly in the Dead Sea and the water is reputed to have healing properties.
The road to Petra then winds through some fabulous desert cliffs past the Dana nature reserve where you can see an old Bedouin village. The route is signposted with brown information signs though you may get pulled over for routine checks by the police who operate very tight security here. It is not surprising when you consider that Jordan borders countries such as Iraq.
Petra is enclosed within a huge buttress of pink stone near to Wadi Musa (Wadi is the word for valley). The Bedouin people have resided here for centuries, mostly in caves, while using great skill to live from this barren land. Today they still live in Petra even though it has become one of the world's premier tourist destinations.
To get to Petra you walk through a narrow gorge with towering cliffs on either side for about one mile until the gorge opens out into a clearing. There in front of you is a dazzling sight. The Treasury is the most impressive of the vast colonnaded buildings which were carved into the rock here in the first century BC as a king's tomb. The poet Dean Burgon described it thus – 'Match me such a marvel save in Eastern Clime/ A rose red city half as old as time'.
The Nabataeans created a huge empire from Petra which stretched all the way to Syria in the north but this resourceful people were eventually annexed into the mighty Roman Empire in 106 AD. When you walk through the red sands of Petra you will also see Roman structures such as a large amphitheatre. Entry to Petra is quite expensive at 26 Jordanian Dinars for two days (a Dinar is valued almost the same as a Euro) but a price worth paying you will need plenty of time to see everything that this ancient Middle Eastern kingdom has to offer.