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Published: June 22nd 2015
Last night's concert went relatively well, though it wasn't particularly well-attended. Then again we were performing in a kibbutz in the middle of a desert so I'm not sure how many people would realistically have been able to show up. Once that was done with we basically stormed the hotel bar since they told us they'd keep it open until 1:30ish just for us. I'm pretty sure they were wiped clear of any and all alcohol - nicely done boys! The following morning was definitely a bit of a struggle, but at least we had the smorgasbord breakfast to look forward to again. At 8:15 we were off to Masada!
Around 30 B.C. King Herod built a palace complex and fortress on a fairly remote desert mountain - l have no idea why anyone would want to be in the middle of nowhere in 100+ degree heat but I'm sure it was relatively decadent back in the day. It was only about 20 minutes from the kibbutz and after seeing a brief film we took a cable car up to the summit. After Herod’s death in 4 B . C . the Romans took over the fortress but it was
later retaken by Jewish zealots in 66 A.D. BY 73 A.D. TE Romans had had enough of Jewish resistance and built a siege ramp up to the mountaintop, using captured Jews as slave laborers knowing the fortress's inhabitants would not attack their own enslaved people. The 900 Jewish defenders decided suicide was a better option than being enslaved by the 10,000 Roman troops so after the men killed their wives and children 1 of the 10 men was chosen to kill the other nine, then himself, so as to minimize those who had to commit the grave sin of suicide. Good times!
There was a reasonable amount of structures left, from living quarters to a bath house but it was mostly ruins. The views were per usual spectacular with the Dead Sea in the distance. It was fairly sweltering up there so by 10 we had had enough and headed back down the cable car to the food area where we had some good chicken shawarma in a pita slathered in hummus and tahini. Then came a tedious 2 hours of sitting in the cafeteria waiting around for no reason other than the fact that our hotels in Jerusalem
had late check-ins I guess. We were finally in our buses by 1pm and began the 1 and a half hour drive through more desert toward Jerusalem. I conked out for most of the way but apart from a few camels it was pretty non-descript.
The hotel itself, Dan Jerusalem, was located on amount Scopus just outside the the city center. We were literally zombie corpses upon arrival so we took it easy in our 1960-esque room with fake air conditioning until our 6:30 bus to the West (Israeli) side of town for the rest of the evening. We were saving the old city for the following day. Jerusalem itself was pretty cool - reminiscent of the more urban parts of Morocco that us been to but also European capitals in some of its thoroghfares. "Jerusalem stone" aka limestone accounted for most buildings - lots of Bauhaus architecture but overall just a normal-looking non-capital city.
After a tedious amount of time moving en masse a few of us split up and ended up at 'Fortuna' for dinner, a seemingly low-key local place. It was phenomenal - all our meals came with maybe 8 meze from baba gannough to
spicy beer salas. Nick and I split an order of the grilled merguez (spicy North African sausage) and the Jerusalem mixed grill which was basically the insides of a chicken ripped out and roasted - chicken hearts, spleens, and liver - nom nom. Once that was through we mosied through the town to the local/only gay bar VideoPub/Bar where we were essentially celebrities and owned the bar. It was a really cool, divey hole in the wall and we will be back tomorrow!
Our journey ended via a city bus back toward the hotel - luckily we befriended an Israeli who helped us navigate the system. Back at the hotel we sat on the patio overlooking the city and drank/socialized a bit more until finally calling it a night.
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