05.10.2017 29 °C
We decided to rent a car to visit the Dead Sea instead of joining an organized tour, partly because the cost of the tour was really high and didn't include some entrance fees, and partly because we couldn't find one running on the day we wanted to go. Plus the roads and highways here are all marked with English (alongside Hebrew and Arabic) and they're nicer and more well maintained than ours at home! We went to book with the company and it would have cost us $65 a day, but online through Expedia it was only $11! It worked out really well and before we knew it we had the car and were on the road.
We drove out of Jerusalem and into the West Bank. Every government site says to avoid the West Bank at all costs and here we were driving through! Side note - every place we have been has a travel advisory, and a few of the places have the extra advisory saying to avoid all unnecessary travel. We have never once felt scared! And we feel right at home in Israel. Anyways, just had to put that out there.
Our first stop was a landmark showing you were standing at sea level. Photo op! Lots of rolling desert hills and a few tents set up for people who I assume live there? Not sure.
We then drove along the Dead Sea for about an hour and got some awesome views of the coastline alone the way!
We pulled in to the national reserve park of Ein Gedi. This was a part of the tour so I figured we could do it too! We entered the park after paying our fee and we walked up nice and easy to a couple of waterfalls, dipping into the shallow pools along the way to cool off from the 30+ degree weather. It was awesome! We continued to walk and found the bigger waterfall, David's Waterfall, where you couldn't swim, but we admired and carried on.
We wanted just a short hike and were about to leave when on the map it showed you could find this Odems Cave really close by! We saw the sign and thought we would make the most of our entrance price and hike to the cave. Before we knew it were ascending Israel's version of the grouse grind in over 30 degree weather. I told Josh I was quitting a couple of times, but he didn't let me! Not working out for a whole month has clearly had an impact!
We were treated to our first sign of water at the remains of an aqueduct. Then 10 minutes later we were treated to this fantastic pool! We got right in and chatted with a it from a Portugal who was hanging out. While Josh was in the pool his sandal got caught on the bottom and broke the toe piece! So from here on out Josh is hiking with one good shoe, one broken shoe. It slowed us down but he was such a trooper I felt so bad he had to deal with this broken shoe!
After the pool we had more stairs and eventually a little rock climb to get down into the cave. It was really nice! We got right in again to enjoy the water.
Our trek back was slow but much easier for me than the climb. It was harder for Josh since he had to keep that shoe on the whole time! If it were me I would have been complaining the whole time, no doubt.
Finally we reached the bottom and were happy to see a cool water fill up station, which was super refreshing as my water was "room temp" at that point, or 30 degrees. It was hot!
We drove down to a public beach which turned out to be closed, so we made our way back up to the northern part of the Dead Sea where they have another beach. You had to pay to enter, which was ok since we'd saved so much by renting the car. We walked down the beach being super careful not to touch the sand as it was the hottest sand I'd ever felt and you couldn't go barefoot. There was a sign saying the temp - 45 degrees! And we felt it.
Getting into the sea is really tricky because of the mud. We couldn't wear sandals since they stuck right in, so my worst nightmare came true and we went barefoot in the mud! Nasty. I kept justifying it to myself since there are no creatures in the Dead Sea I wouldn't be stepping on anything I didn't want to, even though the mud and rocks were already a lot to handle. We quickly figured out if we got in and floated on our backs even in just a foot of water it was easier to get out - so we did, and it was such a weird feeling! Floating without trying. Once out in the deeper water we could even sit up! It was bizarre. It felt like you were on a very stable pool noodle, but you weren't! It was a really cool feeling.
We took turns getting muddy and taking the appropriate pics, then we got out to shower off. While inside the sea you feel silky smooth, but as soon as you get outside your skin dries kind of hard and is full of salt.
After washing and changing we had a beer at the lowest bar in the world. Photo ops again
And then we headed back to Jerusalem from there. We contemplated keeping the rental car overnight since it would have saved us some money to get to Tel Aviv, but finding parking was really tough and when we finally did find parking, I noticed we had an almost flat tire. It wasn't completely flat, but it was getting close! We decided to avoid the headache, fill up the tank, fill up the tire and return the car. We did so with no trouble and then walked back to our place.
I didn't want to miss seeing the big market here so we headed out on foot for the 15 minute walk. I'm glad we went as it's a lot different than the market in Tel Aviv. We tried some halva and I couldn't resist buying some, it was so delicious. I got the scotch flavour and I plan on enjoying it for breakfast tomorrow!
We had a beer and people watched inside the market, then found a really good falafel place for dinner on our way home. Josh wanted desert, so we stopped again at the vegetarian cafe and he got cheesecake. Stuffed, we went back to our place where I couldn't help but fall asleep on the couch while I was blogging. We had a full day of adventure and I'm glad we saw everything we wanted to in Jerusalem!
I write this on the bus to Tel Aviv where we'll spend our last day. I'm counting down the hours we have left together before we take our separate planes tomorrow, and they are very few. I don't want it to end! Josh can't wait to get home to Max and his nice big house, but I'm not quite there yet. Of course I miss my boy more than anything, but I'm not ready to get back to reality. NYC is waiting for me! And I plan on having a great few days before I have to go back to the real world.