Getting to Jerusalem from Masada was no problem, I met some Bulgarians at the bus stop who offered to show me around Sofia when I visit, take me to the mountains, etc. We waited for the bus in the Masada heat, half afraid it would not show up, it arrived about 5 minutes after the scheduled time. The Bulgarians were on their way to Wadi David and had missed their stop, and got off in Masada. We exchanged contact information, I gave them my CIA/FBI business cards, maybe I will see them in Bulgaria someday.
The ride to Jerusalem from Masada was about an hour, the bus was almost empty, I was not on the main Jerusalem-Eilat bus line, so I had the bus almost to myself. People got on and off the bus along the way, but the bus never filled up, I got to stretch out, had two seats to myself, it was a comfortable ride.
When we arrived in Jerusalem, I walked to the hostel from Jerusalem's Central Bus Station. I got turned around initially, asked a man for directions and made it to the hostel quickly, it is 3 stops on the light rail tram line. I arrived at my hostel an hour before check-in, I used that time to get online and book the Dead Sea Chill Out tour through my hostel. They asked if I wanted to go today, I said no, I had planned to go Tuesday. I thought the tour started at 2pm, then I realized the tour started at 4:30 pm, a perfect time for me to get checked into the hostel and go to the Dead Sea.
I went up to my room at 2 pm, I had a hostel mate from Tucson, AZ, it is rare I meet someone from AZ, we started talking about home immediately. She teaches in Iraq, and gave me some tips on teaching English overseas, my goal after I complete my tour of Europe. I found out she was going on the Dead Sea chill out too, it is a popular tour.
My hostel mate and I went to the bakery next door to get some snacks before going to the Dead Sea. The tour was full, I got the last seat on the bus, it is a small bus, bigger than a minivan, smaller than a tourist bus. A few people on the bus were going on a desert ATV tour, something I am not interested in. I grew up in AZ, I have seen enough desert for the rest of my life, I have no desire to ride around on an ATV in any desert.
We passed through the Israeli controlled part of the West Bank on our way to the Dead Sea. We passed some Israeli settlements, saw some camels in their natural environment, not dressed up for tourists and passed a Bedouin Camp.
|Israeli West Bank Settlements|
|Lynnae at Sea Level|
|Sea Level in Israel before the Dead Sea|
|Sea Level Town in Israel on way to the Dead Sea|
|Lynnae floating in the Dead Sea|
|Lynnae reading the Moscow Times in the Dead Sea|
After taking pictures floating in the Dead Sea, reading the newspaper, we covered ourselves in the Dead Sea's therapeutic mud. I started off with bad mud, someone let me know it was too sandy, and I may cause myself some pain using it, i.e. exfoliate myself and get the Dead Sea burn. Our tour guide came over and showed me where to find the good, smooth mud, I got some big handfuls, someone told me I did not need that much, I told them I was taking it for other people to use too. My tour guide said I could sell the mud I had collected, some people did not want to go out far to find the good mud.
After covering ourselves with mud, we took more pictures, the tour guide came over and joked he did not know we would be modeling, he should have brought his camera. We looked like the people in the tour advertisement brochure, covered with mud at the Dead Sea.
|Lynnae with Dead Sea Mud|
Our tour guide had dates, walnuts, and mint tea for us at the end of our Dead Sea Chill Out. He recommended wrapping the walnuts in the dates, they were delicious, I did not know I liked dates until today. Maybe I just like the Israeli brand of dates he bought, we left the Dead Sea at 7:30 pm. Today's trip was the first time on summer schedule, the tour left in the afternoon instead of the morning, it was perfect, not too hot, just right outside.
The ride back to Jerusalem was uneventful, we picked up the people who went on the ATV on our way back to the city. We passed through an Israeli checkpoint, there is no checkpoint driving into the Israeli controlled West Bank, but there is one returning to Jerusalem. Palestinians are not allowed into Jerusalem after certain hours, some have work permits and must exit Israel by a certain time daily. I saw the red sign warning Israelis they could not enter the Palestinian controlled West Bank. I tried to take a picture, I got a side shot of the warning, the bus moved in the middle of my shot.
|Israelis Do Not Enter West Bank Sign|
|Cars Driving to Check Point to go to Jerusalem|
Day 1 Back in Jerusalem