Published: July 30th 2012July 26th 2012
Overnight at the Dead Sea
One of the things I was looking forward to most of my trip to Jordan was getting to float in the Dead Sea. This weekend I got to go! 7 of us loaded up in cars and drove from Amman to the Dead Sea. Not too long of a drive at all. Maybe 50-60 mins I think? The scenery along the way was gorgeous and the music and company kept the ride entertaining.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on land on Earth, meaning the drive there from Amman was all downhill. Our ears popped every once in a while as we passed desert hills and small cliffs until we reached the mountains. The Dead Sea is located in the Jordan Rift Valley, so in the hotel we had a choice of mountain view or sea view.
As I understand it, there is no way to get up to the Dead Sea without paying a fee. There are a few public beaches that cost 15-20 JD for a day pass but these are usually dirty and packed with tourists. You can also pay a day fee
at one of the 5 star hotel resorts that have their own private beaches along the sea. We went all out and rented rooms for the night for our group and stayed at the Holiday Inn!
Holiday Inn Dead Sea Resort
Our rooms were ready early so we got to check in as soon as we got there, which was around 12:45pm, I think. Then we headed straight for the pools. The Holiday Inn has a total of 5 pools I think. There was 1 kids pool, then in the center looking out over the sea there were 3 on different levels. The water from the top pool flowed over into the second and the water from the second trickled down a rock waterfall into the third. The one we went to first was the adults only pool a bit farther down, closer to the sea. It was an infinity pool - meaning there was no edge above the water level in the pool making it look like the water continues on for an infinite distance.
The hotel really felt like paradise. It was huge - had 3 restaurants, a spa, a
workout room, 3 jacuzzis, 5 pools (1 infinity edge pool), multiple areas to sit and relax, and even a deck to look out at the sea. I didn't have time to check out the spa seeing as the massages were so expensive (this isn't my honeymoon, where I would go all out), but we tried just about every pool and jacuzzi and got to go down to the Dead Sea twice.
The pools had palm trees all around and different small cabanas and straw umbrellas strategically placed around the sides. One pool even had a curved bridge going over it and another had a jacuzzi blocked off in the middle of the pool!
The Dead Sea
Everyone in our group had already been to the Dead Sea before so no one was as excited to go down to the sea as I was, so Laila and I went down together from the pool. The private beach was lined with the little straw-roofed umbrellas and had a great view of the mountains to the left and a small peninsula to the right. We walked down to the sea together and I waded out into
the water. At first it felt pretty normal - that was until my feet couldn't touch the ground anymore. As soon as you take your feet off the ground, they shoot up to the surface, sending you backwards to rest floating right at the top of the water. I've spent my whole life swimming so it was a really unique experience! In case you don't know about the Dead Sea, it's almost 9x saltier than the oceans and the high levels of salt cause you to float in the water with no effort. The water is crystal clear and was actually very very hot! Looking across the sea you can actually see the West Bank on the other side. Amman is already close, but the Dead Sea actually serves as a border between Jordan and Is'ael/P'lestine.
One thing I didn't think about was how bad the water would taste and burn! I should've realized since even the ocean makes getting water in your eyes pretty uncomfortable. If the water in the Dead Sea gets in your eyes - forget it! Luckily, that didn't happen to me. But it did get in my mouth a bit and it is TOO
salty! The salt actually burns your skin a bit too, especially if you recently shaved so I would suggest shaving a day or two before.
After floating, I went back to shore where they had mud from the Dead Sea in clay pots along the beach. Mud and minerals from the Dead Sea are said to be very theraputic and rehabilitative, so I knew I had to try it out for my spinal injury. The mud was really hot from sitting in the sun all day but the mud felt soothing on my skin. We'll have to wait and see if it helped my back at all. I feel like it did, but maybe I'm just being optimistic :)
Another thing I liked about the Holiday Inn was that it was isolated from the other hotels, which left an amazing view both to the right and left of the beach. Only very far in the distance to the left could you see any other hotels, and it looked like they were all packed in right next to each other. I feel like from our beach we had a much better view of the natural
beauty of the Dead Sea than we would have in a different hotel.
An Amazing Night
After enjoying the Dead Sea for a bit longer we met back up with the group at the pool to swim a bit more. Once everyone had worked up an appetite, we left the hotel and its really expensive hotel restaurants to go to Chili Ways, which was right outside and down the road. We decided to eat at the restaurant above Chili Ways called Vis a Vis where we had argeeleh and food as we watched the sunset over the Dead Sea. The restaurant had an amazing view of the Holiday Inn, the mountains, and the Dead Sea.
We came back to the hotel and had a great night hanging out, watching tv, eating snacks, and a little dancing too. We ordered a few drinks and what was funny was how long it took for us to get them from room service. I had to call twice to remind the guy and then when it came, all the guy brought me was a bucket of ice...nothing else. I had to call room service 2 more times
to get them to bring up the actual order haha.
Later we went for a night swim out in the pool, which was lit up. At night they keep the front pool (closest to the hotel) open until about 11pm. The pool had blue fluorescent lights on the sides and the jacuzzi that fits in the middle of the pool was lit up green! We had so much fun - playing different "how well do we know each other" games. The ones between Laila and I and Julie and Yazan turned out the most interesting since we were the two couples. It was fun to see who could answer the most questions right about their significant other.
The second day started with a complimentary buffet breakfast at one of the restaurants in the hotel, then it was off to the pool again to continue the tanning and fun. We went to the infinity edge pool first, which is down closest to the sea, then back up to one of the closer pools. After working up an appetite we went back to Chili Ways/Vis a Vis for lunch, argeeleh, and drinks. When
we got back to the hotel Laila and I wanted to go down to the sea one more time before leaving and this time it was Laila who got covered in mud :)
After the mud we went out to float in the sea together and relax a bit before heading home around 19:30. Overall, the trip was great and we all had so much fun! We really wanted to stay another night and not let the good times come to an end. This was definitely one of the funnest group trips I've ever taken. We had such a blast :D
I still have a little more than two weeks left here in Jordan and I have a few more major trips I want to take. I've been recommended to go to Wadi Rum by everyone and I really want to go, but at the moment I'm debating it. Many have told me that (because of my spinal injury) if I can't mountain climb or go 4 wheeling/offroading then there's no point in going to Wadi Rum, because I won't be able to do much. Anyone have any experience going to Wadi Rum and
Amman to the Dead Sea
Mountain terrain we drove through to get to the Dead Sea
not doing anything like that? I thought just camping with the Bedouins under the stars would be worth it.
I'm still planning on making the trip to Is'ael/P'lestine - hopefully this weekend or early next week. I'll probably be staying in Bethlehem for 2-3 days and from there go to Jerusalem, Jericho, and maybe Tel Aviv if I have time.
Laila also talked to her parents about going to Madaba and Mount Nebo (where Moses first saw the Promised Land from). Both places are very close and can be done in a day trip - so thats set up to do with them.
I can't believe I've only been here 33 days! It feels like so much longer since I'm getting so used to life here. I still have classes for one more week, but there's a problem. Each month a new program starts with new students and it looks like the students from last month who started with zero knowledge of Arabic will be switched into our class. For some of the students in my class who are even better than me - this will be so horrible and be
such a hinderance on their learning. Most of the students are not planning on staying and are cancelling their courses. I'm glad I get college credit for my time here, but even though I've learned quite a bit, I would'nt say the courses are on par with the language course I took in Europe. The school here is much more disorganized and does not accomodate all levels very well. I just haven't been as impressed with the syllabus either, but I've learned so much from Laila's family and it was definitely worth it to come out here! I'm hoping to continue my Arabic studies in the United States when I get home.
By the way, some of the photos show blurs or smudges on the side because someone accidentally got fingerprints on the lens protector (luckily not the actual lense) I had screwed on. And I didn't see this until I got back this weekend.
Anyways, I highly recommend making a trip to the Dead Sea if you come to the Holy Land. I talked about the hotel and luxuries of the trip a lot, but when you get down to the sea that
all seems to melt away and you're met with a body of water that has seen so much history and some of the most important people who have ever lived. Definitely a trip to remember
There are more photos below