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Published: April 25th 2018
Left hotel at 7:30 today for our trip to the southern end of the Dead Sea and Masada. Unfortunately my assigned buddy, Juliet succumbed to the cold she had been fighting and decided not to join us today.
We got to Masada around 9am and stayed until 10:45am. We all took the cable car to go up but Pierre, Tash, Greg and Steve were keen to walk down so Mahdi said they could leave the guided tour and start walking at 10am. Masada is a fortress built on a mesa like plateau and King Herod had palaces built here around 39BCE. However it is most famous for a siege in 73 CE when Jewish rebels against the Romans are said to have committed mass suicide when it was inevitable that the Romans were about to break through. Quite a lot of restoration work has been done and the original and restored sections are marked with a black line. In one of the buildings an older gentleman was transcribing the Torah. Besides the ruins, it is worth coming to Masada for the fantastic views over the desert and Dead Sea.
We then drove to Qumran National Park for lunch where
we were given an hour to have lunch, shop, or walk over and see the cave where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls had been found. Pierre and I were very keen to do that even though it was extra 29NIS but I couldn’t understand why this wasn’t an included activity. It was like the restaurant and shop were the main reasons for going to Qumran, yet this was the spot where the Dead Sea Scrolls had been found. Mind you, it nearly cost me 129NIS as the lady tried to short change me after I gave her a 200NIS note; luckily I was on the ball. We had 30 minutes and this was plenty of time as it was just a short walk to the spot where you could view the cave and inspect the ruins of the Essenes village. The Essenes were the scholars who had written the scrolls. We even had time to go back and see an introductory film and small museum which we had skipped because we hadn’t known how long it would take to get to the cave.
It was then a short drive to our second Dead Sea experience. This time it
was a much muddier section and we quickly got ourselves covered in mud before relaxing and floating. Again, a private beach with change rooms and showers provided plus we had time to relax and have a drink in “The Lowest Bar in the World”.
It was then the drive back to Jerusalem but stopping just once to view in the distance, the St George Monastery which is built in a narrow gorge. It did look pretty cool with it’s oasis setting and rugged landscape surrounding it.
We got back to the hotel around 4pm so we decided to just rest and for me to catch up on the blog. Around 6:30pm we decided to go out for a walk and went through Herod’s Gate, walked along Via Dolorosa again and found a restaurant for dinner. On our way back we bumped into Annie and Slade who told us they were lucky enough to get a guided tour around the Church of The Holy Sepulchre (for a small donation) but that we should go again anyway because it wasn’t busy. So off we went yet again to the church and this time we did line up to see Jesus’
tomb as the line was very short. After that went down some stairs and a couple more chapels which was also interesting as they looked older and a group started singing a hymn which was nice.
After taking a few night photos on the way home we managed to get back around 9:30pm.
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