Masada and the Dead Sea

The next day in Israel was dedicated to the Dead Sea region.  I had been here when I was 16 but that was years ago and I really wanted the chance to float around a little.  Here are some pictures of Jerusalem as we left and headed to the dead sea.  We were on a small group tour, with about 9 people.  Most were from New Zealand, and then a German couple.
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The bus driver made a funny comment about this.  I can’t remember the whole thing, but something about this being a desert Mercedes.
This is Jericho, or at least that is what I remember.  I did zoom in on this.
This is a Bedouin community, which are illegal communities, but they stay there anyway.
The lines here are due to the limestone being crushed down from the weight over time.  This desert is the Judean Desert and is a limestone desert.
More camels!
Here we are at 300 meters below sea level.  Guess what?  You can get cell reception below sea level.
Ever heard of Ahava?  Here is a billboard, not too far from the Ahava factory.
More desert.
These are the caves where the dead sea scrolls were found.  It was amazing to hear that when the torah came out and the scholars reviewed it, the text was the same 2,000 years ago as it is today.  Amazing that it stayed the same without changes.
Here are date palms along the road.
Off in the distance you can see Jordan.  The Dead Sea is split between Israel and Jordan.
Now we are getting close to Masada.
Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a National Park.  This is the site of a palace fortress designed and built by King Herod and where the Jews fought against the Romans. 
This is a model of the compound.
When I was 16 I hiked it, but you need to be there early in the morning or it becomes too hot.  Instead, you can now take a cable car.
Look at that ride!
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It holds 80 people.
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Here is some information about the cable car.
Welcome to the top of Masada.
The black lines signify the restoration by archeologists.  Everything below the line is original, but above is the restoration.  Not everything was restored.
Here is my grandpa.
Notice that the flag is at half mast.  We were there on Israeli Memorial Day, and this was in remembrance of all the fallen Israel soldiers that fought to make Israel a free nation.
After the sirens sounded and we had our moment of silence for the soldiers, we continued our tour.  That was a crazy experience.  As all of Israel stood still, we were on top of Masada at that moment, and stood still too.
I hope you enjoy these pictures.
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Some of the fresco paintings were preserved.
My Aunt and Grandpa.
A model of the Roman style bath house.
This is inside the actual bath house facility.
There was a bird inside, which I thought was funny, so I took a picture.  I imagine it was avoiding the heat.
This is the main room of the bath house, where the steam was formed.
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Here is where the slave would stand and blow on the fire to pump it in to the bathhouse and heat the water for the steam.
These are the lots.  Committing suicide was forbidden and did not have the same results in the afterlife.  Instead of being taken by the Romans, they all wanted to die, but needed someone to do it.  The men killed their families first and the drew lots to see who would be the man to kill everyone else and then commit suicide.  This way only 1 person took the blame.  These lots, or rock shards were found with names written on them.
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LOL, our tour guide told us these were the original rolling stones!  They used these to roll down at the Romans.
Some views as we made our way around the outside of the facility.
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Here I am!
A final view before heading back down.
Lunch was in the cafeteria there because there really is not much else around.  This was the typical foods of the region.  You can bet there was some hummus and falafel.
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As we approached the Dead Sea resort, Ein Gedi Spa, I spotted the ice cream man, and really needed a picture.  This is Good Humor in the US, but is Ola in Portugal.  Not sure what it is called here.  I will try and read this better later on.  I can read Hebrew, or at least sound out the words.
Here is the Ein Gedi Spa.  Can you believe that the Dead Sea used to come all the way up to the building, but now you have to take a shuttle down to the water.  It is drying up and the water level has receded greatly.
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They have a swimming pool here, but behind this you can see the land.  This used to be the Dead Sea also.  You can imagine that the water is gone, but the salt remains.  In fact, there is no longer mud all the way down at the shore line.  It is further in land and is only salt at the water’s edge.
This is the shuttle.
There was still a little bit of a walk to the water.
In the background you can see Jordan.
Here is my grandpa.
Look how beautiful this view is!
Here I am in the Dead Sea. 
It did not burn so much, but the ground did hurt to stand on.  It was pure salt.  Check that out!
After I walked like a crab out into the water, I was pleased to feel the warm water.  This was like bathtub water. 
All done!
After getting washed up and changed, I had to give this ice cream bar a try.  It was so good.  They have Magnum here (which I first had in Israel), but we get those in Portugal so I wanted to try something new.
These photos are from the ride back to Jerusalem.
These lines mark former water levels.
After we got back and relaxed, we needed to think about dinner.  The only problem was the holiday.  Not only was this a holiday, but at sundown, the next started.  The very next day was Israeli Independence Day (think 4th of July), so many things were closed.  We were told that the YMCA serves good food, so we went there, laughing because of the irony of being in Jerusalem and eating at the YMCA (if you aren’t sure why that is funny, think about what YMCA stands for).  I also thought that the sign was funny because it advertises restaurant followed by fitness center.  Is that a hint!
Here is the YMCA in Jerusalem.
This is the restaurant ceiling.
Here is inside.
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Here we are at dinner.  It was very quiet in there.  Most usual workers were off for the holiday, so they had a special menu, with limited foods.
The salads were very nice.
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We had some bread.  They serve it with tahini.
My aunt had linguini and I had goat cheese ravioli.
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My grandparents split the smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich.
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Wow, what a great and busy day!  Then it was off to bed so we could get up and see more the next day.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever heard of Masada?  Ever been in a cable car like the one we took up Masada?  Have you heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls?  Did you know the Dead Sea was “disappearing”?


Astra Libris said...

Yay Ahava! My dad goes home to Israel at least once a year, and he always brings ahava products back for my mom and I - we love it! :-)

Aren't the Dead Sea Scrolls AMAZING??!! :-)

Oh, Masada... Masada always makes me sob... I'm so moved by your pictures...

Unknown said...

I actually hiked up Masada, no cable car for this gal (not that I has a choice). I never went into the daed sea...I had some foot surgery right before I went to Israel and it kinda scared me to get in...but i DID buy lots of Ahava :)

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

I've learned so much by reading your last couple of posts! Thanks for sharing!

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