Hod HaSharon, Israel, Asia
Wow! Today was amazing! It started with what felt like a late wake up call at 7:30am. We had a great breakfast at the Park Hotel which consisted of eggs, cheeses, cereals, yogurts and fruits, but no meat. Because we were in Jerusalem, no places can mix dairy and meat. You can only have one or the other at a restaurant.
We checked out of our room and ended up waiting in the lobby for almost an hour for the tour to come pick us up. It was a bit annoying, but what can you do? We were picked up at the hotel and brought to another hotel in Jerusalem that was a meeting point for this tour company. It was there that we found out that our tour guide for the day was Isaac again! This was great news for us! I had even said to Lee earlier this morning that there was no way we could get another tour guide as good as Isaac today, and luckily we got him again.
We were a bigger tour group today, instead of 12-15 people like yesterday, we were about 30. We headed out of the city through a tunnel under the Mount of Olives and started making our way down through the Judean Desert. We started in Jerusalem which was at about 500m above sea level, and we descended toward the Dead Sea which is at about -420m below sea level. It is the lowest place on Earth. We drove past the Dead Sea and only dropped a few people off at a spa to spend the whole day there. The rest of us continued on to Masada.
This was a part of the trip I really knew nothing about, but I am so glad we saw it. Isaac was phenomenal again explaining the stories and history behind what was built here and why. It was all very interesting to hear the stories of Herod and how he was such a cruel maniac, but also a genius. Some of the engineering that was put into these palaces he built was amazing for its time, like the aquaduct system. For 2000 years ago, this was a pretty impressive feat.
The views from Masada were pretty amazing too. You could see straight over the Dead Sea and into Jordan. The mountains as a backdrop to the Dead Sea were stunning. We didn’t have a perfectly clear day, but it was still awesome. The best view was from the cable car that brought us up to the top of the cliff where the palaces were built. One girl in our group decided to walk up and back down instead of taking the cable car, but she was clearly a maniac.
We finished up there, grabbed a quick lunch in the canteen, and even got a sundae from the lowest McDonald’s in the world. We hopped back on the bus and moved on to the Dead Sea spa. This is where we had the chance to actually get in the water. It. Was. Amazing. I had an idea of what to expect from seeing some stuff on tv about it, but nothing could have prepared me. The buoyancy was just unbelievable, and the water made everything feel so smooth. My skin was smooth, my hair was smooth and even the rocks in the water were all smooth. That water is amazing! The only bad thing is that if you get some water in your eye it will sting for approximately 14 minutes before it starts to ease off. I got out of the water, covered myself in mud from the sea, and let that sit for a few minutes. It is supposed to be good for your skin, and based on how good the water felt, I believe it!
We finished up at the Dead Sea and got back on the bus to head back to the cities. This was the only subpar part of the tour today. We had to drive to another spa on the Dead Sea, pick up some other guests, drive through Jerusalem to make a couple of drop-offs, and then on to Tel Aviv to make a few more drop-offs. We then had to take a taxi from Tel Aviv to Herzliya. We were told we would be back by 6:30 or 7pm, we actually got back at 8:30pm. It was exhausting.
Dorita picked us up and brought us back to Marta’s house where she and Pnina had a full dinner and dessert ready for us. They are so good to us. This is an absolute treat to see Israel this way. We’re now back at Gillad’s house, and ready for bed. It’s been a long day, but an absolutely brilliant day!