Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Dead Sea and . . .

Enjoy a Camel Ride
for 10 Shekels
As was the case yesterday, we retraced our steps to the Central Bus Depot in downtown Jerusalem and bought our tickets for the Dead Sea. It's about a 1 hour trip via city bus. Today, the bus was full of travelers so we stood for the first 20 minutes or so. But some nice "young people" sat in the aisle and allowed us "old folks" to sit the rest of the way. I must say that younger Israeli's are very nice to those around them. They are courteous, friendly, have good senses of humor and most speak pretty good English. The beach we're going to is called "Ein Gedi" and is one of the few "public beaches" available along the shore.

The public area at Ein Gedi
at the Dead Sea
What started out as a cool morning became a fairly hot afternoon, so the thought of enjoying ourselves in the waters of the Dead Sea was appealing. Once we got to our destination, we walked about 200 yards from the bus stop to the public area. There are a number of permanent "umbrellas" around with showers here and there.

We already had our bathing suits on, so we found a shady area and took off our outer clothing. One needs to be sure to have foot-wear for the trek to the shore of the Dead Sea. I had a pair of "flip flops" that didn't do the job, so I wore my walking shoes. Along the shore of the water are stones and rocks, so navigating the beach is a challenge. But -- once in the water, it's another story. It doesn't take long before you are past the stones and into the deeper water.

That's me sitting on the shore
in he center of the photo
I didn't know this, but the Dead Sea is 1388 feet "below sea level", making it the lowest place on Earth. The water itself, at its deepest, is over 1200 feet with just a fraction under 34% salinity. It is SALTY!! One must take care not to get water into their eyes -- it "burns"!! One of the neatest benefits of the dense salt water is that the swimmer "floats". I was just off shore, talking with some fellow travelers standing "vertically", but not touching the bottom. You just "float" or "bob" like a cork!!

The water is warm and feels "oily" to the skin. Your skin feels smooth and healthy. Being so far below sea level, I learned that the harmful UV rays of the sun are greatly reduced, thereby making the sun-bathing and swimming beneficial and healthy.

Linda at the Dead Sea
Ein Gedi
If you plan to visit the Dead Sea -- I recommend the Ein Gedi "spa" another four kilometers down the road. The public beach has no amenities what-so-ever, and isn't a very pleasing environment. The water, as stated above, is another matter. Getting to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem is quite easy. The tourist can rent a car, take a "day tour" or take the public bus. Obviously, the bus is the least expensive. The buses are comfortable, air conditioned and run every hour or so.

We returned to Jerusalem at about 4 o:clock and walked the Ben Yehuda shopping mall for a couple of hours. We found a "Coffee Bean" (we have one in Palm Desert), and enjoyed a nice "cuppa" coffee. Later, we had an enjoyable dinner and decided to call it a day.

"Now let's see what's happening today."
Tomorrow we have tickets for the Tower of David Museum and Light Show in the evening. So, we'll spend our last couple of days relaxing and staying nearby Jaffe Gate. Maybe a trip to the Jerusalem Mall will take a bit of time and add to the enjoyment of our stay so far.

It's hard to believe we will have been here 2 weeks on Friday. Our days have been filled with enjoyable adventures. As stated elsewhere, I'm sure we missed a lot, but we've seen a lot too. So, we're pretty pleased with our decision to extend our stay in Jerusalem.