Travel With Marilyn

Little Petra: Another Chapter in Jordanian History

Marilyn Jones 

After two days in Petra, our Exodus Travels tour journeys north to Siq al-Barid, known as Little Petra. Part of Petra Archeological Park, it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

Little Petra

Unlike the larger Petra area, Little Petra does not require admission and is very quiet in stark contrast with Petra, but nonetheless strikingly beautiful and mysterious. Archaeologists believe that Little Petra was established in the first century, when the Nabataean culture was at its peak in the region.

Little Petra

The larger Petra site was first discovered by Europeans in 1812 when a Swiss traveler, Jacob Burckhardt, became the first Western visitor since the Romans. He did not venture north of the larger Petra where Little Petra is located.

Little Petra

Little Petra was known only to the Bedouin nomads who sometimes camped there until the late 1950s when a British archaeologist, Diana Kirkbride, added to her excavations at Petra digs in the Beidha (a major Neolithis archaeological site) area which included Little Petra.

One feature Little Petra has that the larger Petra does not is a biclinium, or dining room, discovered in 2010. Located in one of the caves, it features art depicting grapes, vines and a winged male child thought to be in honor of the Greek god Dionysus and the consumption of wine. The 2,000-year-old ceiling frescoes are a very rare large-scale example of Hellenistic painting.

I pass a beautifully carved and ancient facade and children playing on a small sand dune before entering a narrow chasm leading to more discoveries. Caves, tombs and storage areas line the terra cotta colored canyon walls. An elderly Bedouin woman shows how she spins wool, a man plays a one-stringed instrument and children sing a traditional song for tips. A handful of merchants sell scarves and jewelry.

Little Petra

Little Petra

It is peaceful here. Visitors clamber up steep uneven steps to view the site’s famous cave paintings and a spectacular view of the canyon. We are free to go inside the caves to better understand life here centuries ago.

Little Petra

As we leave, our guide, Omar Hamadeen, asks a Bedouin family if we can see the inside of their tent. The tent is made of woven goat hair and is waterproof. The tent is divided into two spaces — one for the wife and daughters, and the other for the father and his sons. In the center is a fire for warmth and cooking. Most of the Bedouin tribes migrated from the Arabian Peninsula to what is now Jordan between the 14th and 18th centuries. Today Bedouins make up 33 to 40 percent of the population and live in the vast desert wasteland.  Some Bedouins in Jordan are semi-nomadic. During part of the year they adopt a nomadic existence, but return to their lands and homes in time to practice agriculture.

Little Petra holds many secrets yet uncovered. Spending time here offers yet another view of this Middle Eastern country’s past.  

Little Petra

AmaWaterways partners with Master Chef Joanne Weir

Marilyn Jones 

Sailing with AmaWaterways along one of the world’s rivers is an experience for all the senses including taste. This cruise line is especially known for its excellent meals. Now AmaWaterways is partnering with Master Chef and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Joanne Weir as the lead sponsor of her new PBS series, “Plates and Places with Joanne Weir.”


Two episodes of the series, set to debut in February 2018, were filmed in fall 2017 during AmaWaterways’ Enchanting Rhine river cruise, capturing the culinary highlights on board as well as regional specialties from the cities and towns along the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

chef 2

During the cruise, which took place on board the fleet’s newest ship, AmaKristina, Weir shared her love of cooking with guests through cooking demonstrations and the addition of small touches to the tasting menu at the intimate Chef’s Table restaurant, a feature on most cruises.

amakristina 2

AmaWaterways is continuing its collaboration with Weir and her team by presenting a special sailing, Taste of Bordeaux – Culinary Cruise Hosted by Joanne Weir. The seven-night cruise will embark on July 26, 2018, traveling through the Bordeaux region along the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers. Fans of Weir will have the opportunity to engage with the celebrated chef both on board and during shore excursions exploring local culinary and viticulture highlights. The author of 18 cookbooks, including her latest, Kitchen Gypsy, will also give culinary presentations on board the AmaDolce, which are open to all guests.


The 2018 Culinary Cruise takes guests through the Bordeaux region of France, one of the world’s undisputed wine capitals, and will be punctuated by a comprehensive choice of complimentary shore excursions highlighting French culture, food, and wine, including visits to vineyards and a wine festival. Passengers will also visit the 14th-century Château de Montaigne, once the former residence of French philosopher Michel de Montaigne.

I can speak from experience that the culinary team, led by award-winning Executive Chef Primus Perchtold, always provides a great dining experience. I am sure the collaboration with Weir will only add to their tradition of fine dining and excellent service.

AmaWaterways is a family-owned company celebrating 15 years on the river offering cruises on Europe’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhone, Seine, Garonne, Dordogne, Dutch and Belgian Waterways and Douro Rivers, Southeast Asia’s Mekong, and Africa’s Chobe River. 

Photos courtesy Joanne Weir and AmaWaterways.