Monday, December 6, 2010

A Weekend at the Dead Sea

We were thrilled when we found out my parents were giving us two free nights at a beautiful hotel in the Dead Sea as a Hanukkah gift. I am lucky to have already been there twice before in my life, but that did not stop me from immediately dreaming again of beautiful sand beaches and literally floating on water: 

This little map gives you an idea of what the journey there would be like and where the Dead Sea is situated in general. It is located 400 meters below sea level (about 1/2 a mile) and it is the lowest place on earth, yet it takes only a quick hour and a half to travel to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem. Watch out for your ears popping as you descend on your journey from the hills of Jerusalem down into dead sea basin:

People come from afar to bathe in mineral mud and then wash off in the salty, healing water of the Dead Sea. It is widely known that the natural minerals found here are uniquely healing, especially for those with skin disorders and arthritis. Caution! The salt is so strong that it will violently overwhelm any small cut (ladies and gentlemen, even shaving of any kind is strongly discouraged). Also do not so much as rub your eye after touching the salt water. It's pure danger! These guys in the picture below look like they're not too worried. Covering yourself in mineral mud is a popular thing to do in the Dead Sea:

Take a look at this aerial shot of the Dead Sea and a few of the zillion salt formations that cover the 34 mile long area:

Here's a typical view of the Dead Sea from Jordan's side of the Dead Sea, with its classic salt formations:

And here is a view of the Dead Sea from a lookout atop the Israeli side looking out towards nearby Jordan. To me, the water looks very Caribbean blue:

Finally, please now enjoy some pictures from our weekend away at the Dead Sea where we relaxed, sunbathed and did a whole lot of floating:

That is real salt in Rafi's hand from just one scoop of ocean water at the Dead Sea! It shows you how utterly salty it really is (reminder: keep eyes and cuts away from the water at all times):

After some quality saltwater floating, Rafi took some time out to meet new friends and play a round of beach volleyball:

After a long, hot day at the beach, we headed back to our hotel. I love the picture below because it really shows the spirit of Israel. Every family brought their menorah with them in order to celebrate Chanukah each night while staying at the hotel. I am certain that the same thing happens in on Fridays for Shabbat.

Here are a few pictures from our beautiful hotel room balcony at the Le Meredien Dead Sea Resort:

The next day, we headed to the beachfront property of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which had quite a spectacular setting. Here are a few from our day at the beach:

On our last day, we were finally brave enough to venture outside in our robes, just as many other guests did all over town. Although at first, we had eyed people questionably for wearing their bath robes outside, it is simply 'the norm' here and part of what is so relaxing about the Dead Sea:

With the weekend over, it was time to head back to reality and start planning the next getaway. That's me holding my three passports! If you were wondering: US, Canada and Israel. And yes, there's a good and valid reason for having each one.

The Dead Sea is a beautiful place and I cannot wait to go back one day soon! If you haven't even been, it's definitely somewhere to put on your bucket list. Hopefully a visitor will make their way here shortly so that I have a good excuse to return sooner rather than later. Additionally, for newcomers, no weekend would be complete at the Dead Sea without a visit to nearby Masada and Ein Gedi. 

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