The Gondola going up to Masada
Well today we officially go into Palestinian territories to go to Bethlehem! (finally) The lovely Sister Gemma is taking a few of us because the Israelis aren't allowed to go there. Poor Rachel, "the only Jew on the bus" as she likes to put it, haha.
On Saturday we went on a HUGE trip down to the Jordan Valley, past the Palestinian city of Jericho, along the banks of the Dead Sea to the historical site of Masada. We went up to the fortress on this massive gondola (which freakishly reminded me of being crammed into a cattle car) filled to the brim with people. It was pretty amazing to walk in the rooms that Herod built for his kazillion wives, and not to mention the amazing view of the Dead sea and the banks of Jordan on the other side! The ramp that the Romans built to breach the wall is still there, as are the Roman camps down on the ground. It was kind of eerie though, knowing we were walking on the ground where a thousand Jewish rebels had committed suicide :/
We then travelled back up to the Qumran to the archaeological site of the
A few of us look slightly buggered... on top of Masada looking for Shade (on top of Herod's palace)
village and the cave where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found (some pics of this are on the facebook site and Nigel's gallery by the way, I'll post links down the bottom). We had our lowest rating Falafel so far here for lunch, the re-embarked the bus for our dip in the DEAD SEA YAY!!!
So they took us to the "Beach Oasis" which was more like a "Beach Bomb Shelter"... ok so maybe not that drastic, but it certainly wasn't what I'd call an Oasis. Us gals had to strip outside the dunnies because there were only a small amount of change rooms / dunnies / showers, then we skipped merrily to the shore (so to speak, dragging our clothes and bags and shoes and towels behind us, haha).
When we got to the bank we covered ourself from shoulder to toes with the thinks dark delicious Dead Sea mud, and waded into the water. It wasn't very cold, quite pleasant in fact, and I pretty much went straight in. It is such an EERIE feeling, you literally float, your legs go straight up above your head! And when you turn onto your tummy you are literally
The Roman Camp from on top of Masada
on top of the water! We had soooo much fun haha. Some people were reading books in the water and others were giving themselves facial masks, but we were cautious not to get it in our eyes because it'd be a killer. I tasted the water, and imagine the most compact, dense, flavoursome salt imaginable, then times it by one hundred... that's how salty it was!!
We got out after about half an hour because it started to sting slightly, and you felt like you had another layer on your skin, so soft and lovely, awwww.
Yesterday was SCHINDLER DAY!!! HAPPY SCHINDLER DAY! We went to the grave site and had a toast to him (potent Polish Vodka), and heard the testimony of two Schindler Jews. They were so lovely, but we got a slightly varied perspective on Schindler himself... let's just say Spielberg is kind to him (but who cares really... he saved so many Jews!).
Today we went to the Cornerstone- Laying ceremony of the new International Holocaust Studies building at Yad Vashem, Steven gave a speech on behalf of us, and we heard an amazing Children's Harmonica Orchestra! It was so brilliant (Steve's speech
The Dead Sea
Michelle, me & Rachel covered in mud
and the Harmonicas that is... not so much the ceremony! Mulitply school Assemblies by 10! BOREDOM!).
This afternoon... well in 1 hour and 45 minutes to be precise, we jump on the bus and head to Bethlehem, hopefully now Michelle's recurring nightmares will cease to exist (she was so afraid of not being able to go!). We need our passports and everything, but it will be great I'm sure! This may be my last blog from Israel (two day trip starting tomorrow morning, up north to Golan Heights רמת הגולן and the Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz, Nimrod Fortress (Crusader's Castle), Mount Hermon to see some snow, and more!
I will update again either at the airport or in London.
Until then! xoxo Lex
http://flickr.com/photos/_nigel/3203502651/ - me in the Dead Sea
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