With Jerusalem behind us we passed into the West Bank, through checkpoints and into Palestine. Our ears popped as we descended to the Dead Sea, some 400 meters below sea level.
With the Judean Desert on our right and the Dead Sea to our left we continued our journey to Masada. As we drove we could see Jordan on the other side of the Dead Sea and thought about how we could take a side trip. After some thinking, a check of the time and confirming we needed a Visa we opted to stay on course. As we approached Masada and watched it grow in size and started to rethink our goal of hiking the 2 kilometer snake path with its 700+ steps and 350 meters of altitude change. Maybe the way to the top of this isolated rock cliff fortress is the cable car?
In the end we set off to make our noon assent with our water bottles, a hat and no sunscreen (I forgot to pack it in our rush, sorry Alice, but at least we packed it).
The view from the top was amazing and made all the books, stories and movie come to life. Without giving a history lesson, let me just say Jake and I were blown away, Masada is an absolute must-see.
After a quick swim, well maybe a quick float in the Dead Sea we were on our way to Jericho. The Dead Sea is dead because its salinity prevents the existence
They say a tour of the Dead Sea region would not be complete without a visit to the amazing monasteries built on the cliff walls. Due to our lack of time, we did what I like to call “check box tourism”. We drove to Jericho “the oldest city of the world”, snapped a picture of the monasteries perched halfway up aformidable cliff and were on our way, but not before we were sucked in to some “must see” historical site (run and under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority), that looked like a gravel parking lot to both Jake and me. Next time I would take a cable car to the monasteries and try and avoid the town.
Back to the hotel and the old city to explore the other 3 quarters Christian, Jewish and Armenian. Dinner was made up of picking something up from all the different food vendors along the way. We grazed our way to the Armenian Quarter the smallest of the quarters skipping the museums (assuming
Aunt Lisa would give Jake the low down). Poked our heads into dozens of churches in the Christian Quarter. Explored an excavated old market street before ending in the Jewish Quarter for a snack of falafel and an excuse to rest our feet after walking about 12 miles and standing in line for two and a half hours!
At some point we passed the Garden Tomb an oasis from the heat and desert atmosphere. Best described in John 19:41 “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid”.
Note: Free admission