Al Ula Old Town, Maraya, Star Gazing – Day 2.

The following chilly morning I did not feel so chilled anymore, maybe because I was more acclimated or maybe because of the large amount of food we consumed the night before… so I went to take a shower without my farwa (the previous day I went to the shower in a farwa, Uniqlo jacket, beanie, and another two layers of clothes)… The sunrise was beautiful with the sky full of high-layered clouds (I know a lot about clouds from my school geography lessons).

While we were having breakfast, I was just staring at the skies, such a beauty… have a look yourself.

Having consumed some very tasty pancakes, kumquats, and orange juice, we decided to walk to the reception with the adventurous members of Al Tamashee tribe… walked through the rows of citrus trees, surrounded by rocks that served our ancestors as their living quarters and provided a platform for self-expression… back to the Shariah bus.

Old Town Al Ula

After a short Shariah trip, we arrived at a different parking in the old city of Al Ula. Abdulaziz went somewhere to fetch us a unique transportation, not even sure how to describe it – a very unstable and uneven electric bus that was not so necessary as we could have easily walked, but it was fun to ride it anyway.

Then we waited for a bit for our tour guide to show up and tell us all about the life of the people of Al Ula in the old times…

Very charming place… I am inevitably always drawn to these old Arabic architectural places. The majority of the town is in quite a shabby state, as people haven’t been living there for the last 40 years, but the municipality has started restorations and it’s going to be an absolutely amazing place.

Here is a glimpse of our tour including me taking pictures of everything 🙂

The houses were built of natural materials, including mud, rocks, and palm trees. They had natural ventilation. Apparently, it is believed that Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) has prayed in the mosque in this city (the one towering there)… hopefully will be restored to visit one day.

Upon return to the lower grounds, most of our group engaged in coffee and cookies, I walked along the street, E. managed to get invited to some Saudis wedding, while I was in the bathroom…

Maraya Theatre

The next stop on our list was the fancy building of Maraya Theatre – that mirrored building in the middle of the mountains. But we had to leave now, and we only had 10 minutes there for photos which was quite a challenge providing how picturesque the place is.

And as true chimps we do love mirrors… anyway, maybe another time there will be an opportunity for more epic photography.

Rock Arch

When our time ran out and the bus almost left without us… we had to hurry up, because the next stop of our epic adventures was some natural rock formation in the form of the arch (Al Qudra Arch)… upon reaching that destination, I thought if this place was somewhere in Utah or in Spain there will be 1 million influencers here. But we did find one hippie influencer there with his family chilling, not expecting a hoard of Emiratis ++ to barge in on his peaceful afternoon. The arch is huge and amazing…

We maybe started overdosing on kumquats at this point already, as we had a full box and it kept being passed around. I climbed on the rock behind to just chill and enjoy the view… It is hard to grasp the scale of this place.

Bu Sami Farm and Rock Carvings

But you can’t be fed with kumquats only (like on the previous trip to Asir we were constantly eating bread, and here we constantly had kumquats)… so Bu Sami generously invited us to have a meal at his farm – what a fabulous place. I don’t know maybe I was too hungry to take pictures of the place – but it was gorgeous and you can rent it to stay there for the weekend or longer if you want – with 6 tents to sleep in (each one having a bathroom and a shower) and a house.

After a generous amount of food, juices, and fruits we decided to take a digestive walk into the valley to see some more rock carvings and a slaughter place of a goat (that we didn’t plan to see but it was just there)…

Everyone tried their skills in interpreting what the rock carvings meant… some more successful than others, but still, the mysteries remain.

Stargazing

After this amazing experience of getting in touch with our roots, we went back to the hotel to dress up for the night of stargazing. We went to an adventure center and signed numerous papers about our safety and well-being, pondering how dangerous stargazing can actually be, but to be fair roaming in the unknown area in pitch dark you can get harmed. Anyhow, we were separated into two busses after everyone finished their sunset prayers, and I happened to be in the fun bus where we blasted the music, played games and generally had a good time, eating some more kumquats, while some other people had to share the bus with the visitors from Kuwait who were not as jolly.

After we settled on the carpets laid out in the middle of the desert, the rawee (storyteller in Arabic) eventually turned off the lights and told us to stop using our phones so we can adjust our eyes to the stars… of course many people (especially the Kuwaitis) could not stop using their phones at first, but eventually everyone complied. We got to know how to find the Northern Star in the sky, which is 26 degrees North in Al Ula, and how to know if the winter is finished by the stars, His stories were passionate and full of information, and our Tamashee tribe managed to find answers to his questions faster than other people making the excited noises along the way.

Though I didn’t take as many photos in this place as I would like to, I enjoyed the experience.

We ended the night with some food, and went to sleep for the last time in our tents…

The sunrise the next day was spectacular, and it was sad to leave feeling like we have spent a week here, but also feeling like there is so much more to see.

Have you been to Al Ula? Would you like to visit? What would you like to see the most?

Can’t wait to return one day…

Much love,

Anna

Al Ula Trip – Day 1.

The Flower Men Of Asir

Guns and Roses in Taif, Saudi Arabia

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