Everyone met up in Petra today, the big day. I went early to do some filming and also to supervise something quite extraordinary – the tethered flight of the New7Wonders hot-air balloon in front of the Treasury, in a quite small square at the end of the Siq, the famous, narrow canyon that leads down into the city. Surrounded by the actors who would soon bring Petra to life, and by camels and horses, the first hot-air balloon ever to rise in Petra amazed everyone present as it hovered gracefully in front of the huge façade. Even the horses and camels, which had initially been very startled at both the noise of the flame rushing to heat the air and the fan blowing the air into the balloon envelope, seemed to gaze at the strange blue object.
Queen Rania is truly one of the most beautiful, graceful and elegant personalities that I have had the occasion to meet on the World Tour so far. She represents in person the dignity of the Jordanian people and their ancient culture in a superb way. What a great blend of reality, dream and the aura of a site like Petra – together with the people representing this unique place! The event itself was a spectacular mega-production, a recreation of Nabatean life in the marketplace in front of the Treasury 2,000 years ago, followed by a terrific Roman legion performance and gladiator fight in the ancient amphitheater. About a hundred journalists were there, from national and international media, and I did several TV and radio interviews near the amphitheatre before we headed back to the hotel for the press conference.
Petra is an entire city where up to 40,000 people lived two millennia ago, and it takes at least a week to discover it all. But even during our relatively short visit on our N7W World Tour stop, we could appreciate its natural and human-built beauty. Walking through the Siq, truly one of the most colorful canyons in the world, that suddenly ends in the Treasury’s courtyard is a unique experience of discovery and surprise.