Travel Diaries :: Israel (Part 3)

9:54:00 AM

We have made it to part three and the final part of our Israel journey. If you haven't seen my first two posts you can find part ONE HERE and part TWO HERE.

Last post included some of my absolute favorite places we went in Israel, but I think I saved the best for last. Honestly, everything we did while in Isreal was amazing. So where are we going in this post?? We are headed WAY South to the Dead Sea and Masada in the desert and then ending our journey in Jerusalem.


DEAD SEA
I can't even describe in words well enough to tell you how gorgeous the dead sea is. It is such a mysterious place filled with awe and beauty. I could get lost in these views forever.


If you don't already know, the Dead Sea gets its name because it does not empty out into anything. The salinity is extremely high that no life can live in this body of water and is currently Earth's lowest elevation on land. Cool right? Not even to the coolest part. Because the salinity is so high, no matter your size or weight, you become extremely buoyant and float. The kids didn't really get in the water as it irritated their skin. Definitely make sure you are near a shower if you go to the dead sea! We were traveling with locals so they knew where we should go. 


Make sure to purchase some dead sea mud if you make it to the Dead Sea...your skin will thank me later! Unlike the ocean, where the salt water makes your skin feel tight and dry, the water and minerals from the dead sea almost makes your skin feel oily. It is said to have healing qualities for skin disorders as well as aid in keeping your skin feeling moisturized and soft. I can attest, my skin felt so nice for days after a good 30 minute float.

 
We stayed up in a camp grounds overlooking the Dead Sea. Just for one night, but oh my word, the sunrise we saw the next morning was the most amazing sunrise I have ever seen in my entire life. As the sun came up over the mountains of Jordan you could overlook the glass-like waters of the Dead Sea. Still and lifeless reflecting an array of colors. Breathtaking!

Sunrise view from where we stayed above the Dead Sea. Metzoke Dragot, Dead Sea.

MASADA

Our group at the top of Masada

Another stop at one of King Herod's hide outs (for lack of a better term), Masada is a structural phenomenon. Masada is an ancient city built into the mountainside thousands of feet above the Dead Sea. The Masada National Park is a must on your time in Israel, not only because structurally it is just amazing to behold, but also, because of it's location. You can do a 2 hour hike up the old road/path to the city or pay and take a 5 minute cable car ride to the top. We did the cable car.

The views from the top of Masada are definitely a must in my book! There is nothing quite like it.

High above the shores of the Dead Sea and completely surrounded by dessert, Masada would have been an oasis within the dessert. Which ultimately became it's downfall during a Roman siege in the early first century. Surrounded on all sides by Roman soldiers who then figured out how to reach the city, all the citizens (excluding 2 women and 5 children) took their own lives, as they would have rather died than become slaves to the Romans. It is heartbreaking to learn bits of history that end so tragically and a little more than morbid walking the ground in which thousands of years ago approximately 960 people (including women and children) took their own lives on the very ground we were walking. You can read some more on the history of Masada HERE.


JERUSALEM


Saving quite possibly the best for last we are now making our final stop in the Holy city of Jerusalem. As the capital of Israel and the main hub for all religious activities during the first century this would have been the place all Jews would come annually and where Jesus would have done a lot of his teachings along with the place where He was crucified, buried and resurrected. Although this city is again well developed around the old city walls, there is just something about walking these streets and being in the places where many momentous scenes from the Bible took place that not only solidifies my faith but humbles me completely. Who am I to be worthy to even walk in the footsteps of my Savior?


We started our Jerusalem tour up on the Mount of Olives. Overlooking the city as Jesus would have looked over her and wept for the people (Luke 19:41). As we made our way down into the city we stopped at the Garden of Gethsemane.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus would have been praying the night he was betrayed by Judas and arrested before his crucifixion.


We entered the city through the Jaffa Gate. As we made our way down the roads, we came across a seemingly hidden, off the main strip, doorway into Bethesda. It felt like a little neighborhood tucked aside within the city, Bethesda would have been the place where Jesus healed the paralytic. It also would have been the pools used for all the temple ceremonial cleanings and possibly the location where after the Resurrection the disciples baptized roughly 3000 men/women who became believers (Acts 2:41).


The most solemn and overwhelming experience was walking the Via Dolorosa. The path believed Jesus would have walked carrying the cross the day of His crucifixion. You are really able to put yourself in that time period, imagining Jesus struggling to carry the cross down the narrow streets lined with people. The market is also right along the path, which was quite surprising to me, but it gave me a new perspective on what it may have been like even centuries ago. It made me feel a little sad that this holy place had been taken over by people buying and selling things, but I guess that is just our human nature.

entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The church of the Holy Sepulchre as well as Golgotha and the garden tomb are both presumably the locations of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. It felt more right at the garden tomb for me, outside the city walls, more peaceful and less crowded.


We traveled a little bit outside the old city walls to the Garden Tomb at Galgotha.


Last stop was the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. What a feeling to be in the presence and touch the last remaining standing wall of the original tabernacle from over 2000 years ago. Unbelievable! We were supposed to do a tour of the tunnels below the wall, but as the stomach bug continued its way through our family, hitting my husband this day, we decided to call it a day early and give him some time to rest. Next time!


The men and women have separate sides where they can enter to see the wall. It is a very holy place where you can sit and pray. Many actually write prayers and place them inside the cracks of the wall.


Our last night in Jerusalem we meandered Jaffa street. We spent the evening eating great food and picking a few souvenirs for the kiddos. I guess I didn't take many pictures this night because we were just having too much fun exploring!


It still feels a bit like a dream that we went on this trip and even looking at all the photos and videos we took are unbelievable. What a humbling experience to travel and see different parts of the world. In my opinion, there is nothing better, especially when you get to experience it all with the people you love. Until the next adventure....

my 3 tiny international travelers

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