Thursday, February 7, 2013

Our Trip to Israel: The Dead Sea + Masada

Hello, hello! Even though it's been almost three months since our trip to Israel, I'm still in the process of sharing the photos. We had a pretty packed itinerary and took a lot of pictures. However, things have been a little busy since we've been back with the holidays and getting into the groove of the new year, but I'll share them all eventually!

I left off with our time in the Galilee region (so northern Israel) and from there we drove south towards the Dead Sea. We actually had to drive through the West Bank, which like the Gaza Strip, is a disputed area. However, we were told that the Israelis and the Palestinians have a peaceful agreement regarding the West Bank and that we wouldn't have any issues driving through. I thought we'd have to stop at a check point, but we were never stopped entering or exiting and didn't have any issues at all. Whew!

When we got down to the Dead Sea, we headed to the Ein Gedi Kibbutz to check in. I really wanted to stay experience staying at a kibbutz during our trip (kibbutzim are collective, pastoral communities in Israel which were formed to be utopian societies primarily based around agriculture, but are now popular places to stay for tourists) and Ein Gedi was definitely a good choices. While the rooms weren't all that great, the grounds were very pretty and the location is great for experiencing the Dead Sea.

Because Ein Gedi is located in the desert and it was considerably warmer there than in Galilee
Our room a the kibbutz...a little dated and fairly basic, but it was fine
There were ibex grazing on the lawn outside our room which was so cool to see!
And just like in Turkey, there were cats everywhere at the kibbutz!
I am so not a cat person, but some of the cats in Israel were so adorable even I couldn't resist
National Geographic photo Cam snapped of a cat killing a mouse outside our room. Ew.
After getting settled, we decided to head down to check out the Dead Sea! It was late afternoon when we visited and it was actually kind of overcast and even rained a little, which I think is kind of rare for the desert? We still had a great time though and it was so neat to say we've floated in the Dead Sea!! (Also, these photos from the Dead Sea were taken with Cam's cell phone, so they're not the greatest quality, just FYI)
Cam having the time of his life floating around
You really do just float, it's such a weird feeling! Also, the salt is quite painful if you get water in your eyes/in a cut...I had just shaved and that was a little irritating, but not too bad!
Such a cool memory!
After floating in the Dead Sea, there's an area where you can put on the famous Dead Sea mud, which is supposed to have a lot of beneficial minerals. People put it all over themselves and then there are outdoor showers where you can rinse off.
Good times :)
After our afternoon at the Dead Sea, we headed back to the kibbutz for dinner...and played with a few more cats. Ha.

I look crazy in this picture, but I seriously wanted to take this cat home!
It followed was following me around the whole night!
The grounds were very relaxing and with the red rock everywhere, it kind of reminded me of Arizona
My mom and sister had stayed at Ein Gedi a few years ago and had said good things about the food...and it was definitely an experience! Everything was really fresh and there was a lot to choose from. Meals were kosher and so meat and no dairy was served at dinner, while breakfast was the opposite.
So the average age of guests staying at the kibbutz was...a little older. Ha.
Cameron not amused by my photo taking...
Loving his dinner
Lots of choices for dessert!
The next morning, we got up super super early to go hike Masada at sunrise! Masada is an ancient fortification overlooking the Dead Sea, and apparently Israel's most popular paid tourist attraction. The spot is most well known because of the Siege of Masada, where a large group of Jewish rebels committed a mass suicide to resist being overtaken by the Romans. (And apparently there was a mini series about Masada in the 1980s?) You can take a cable car up to the top, but we had heard the best way was to hike the Snake Path up to the top to watch the sunrise. The hike took us about 40 minutes and was definitely steep! However, the stunning views at the top were worth it!

Made it to the top just as it was starting to get light!
Watching the sunrise was breathtaking!
Trying to get some pictures using our mini tripod...a little awkward...ha.
Take two
We spent quite a bit of time exploring at the top, but since it was early, the museum wasn't open yet and things weren't super well marked so I'm not quite sure what everything was...but it's crazy to think about what took place here all those years ago!
Doing some more exploring...
Heading back down...
I'm glad we hiked it at sunrise because by the time we got back to the bottom it was already really hot out!
Cam with our trusty rental car
After our hike, we were definitely hungry so we headed back to the kibbutz to have a big Israeli breakfast. They go all out with tons of choices for breakfast over there, and they're really big on salads in the morning, which is kind of different than the US. Overall, we really enjoyed the food at Ein Gedi, and it was some of our favorite we had on the trip. 

That chocolate spread was delicious!
Lots of choices...
Fresh honey, right from the comb!
 We only stayed at Ein Gedi for one night, but I felt it allowed us to see everything we wanted to. However, it's definitely an extremely relaxing area so I see why it is a popular vacation spot. I managed to get one last shot of the Dead Sea before we drove away and headed towards our final destination--Jerusalem!


I'll be sharing those photos (hopefully) soon, but for now I hope you enjoyed another glimpse into our trip to the Middle East! That's all for me today, I hope everyone is having a fabulous week! Tomorrow's Friday! Xoxo

4 comments:

  1. Wow what an amazing looking trip. I have always dreamed of going to an ancient land and also the dead sea...never have really thought of going to Isreal but now it has become an option!

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  2. wow jane these photos are stunning. what a great trip that is so cool you stayed at a kibbutz and i can't believe those ibex were just roaming around. there were cats everywhere too and i like your comment the average age of the guests were ah a bit older...

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  3. Hi Jane! I am a pretty new follower and love all your posts! I live in the East Bay area so about 3 hours or so from you!! I love this post! The pictures are just breath taking!! Your husband and you are just adorable!!

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  4. Wow, what a trip of a lifetime. Those sunrise pictures are gorgeous. That hike is something that I'd love to do, and floating in the Dead Sea... how awesome.

    Those ibex are cute. There were tons of cats roaming around when I visited Italy... but they were more rough looking than the cute cats you're petting in pictures. :)

    Happy Thursday.

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Your sweet words make my day! :)

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