The Desert(s)

Taking a break from complaining about the Chicago heat and my lack of marathon training success to go back to Israel and into the desert.  You may want to pop some popcorn and pour yourself a cold drink because there are TONS of photos to see and enjoy in this long post!

 

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We’re starting with the Negev and a stay at the Bedouin Hospitality tents.

 

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I had heard that the Bedouin’s serve an amazing feast and was thrilled to sample dinner seated on rugs in the hot desert air.

 

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Dinner is eaten with your hands, using the laffa (absolutely incredible bread) to soak up the flavors and seasoning in the chicken, rice, hummus, tahini, and salads.

 

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I think this was the only time on the trip, I ate until I was beyond full.  And it was totally worth it!  The Bedouin’s are known for their strong coffee and sweet after dinner tea.  But my favorite part of staying at the tents (of note, I actually got to stay in a little cabin and not sleep in the hot, crowded tent) was breakfast.  While we watched people ride along on camels, I dug into a fried egg, smothered in hummus and cucumber salad, and wrapped in laffa.  It was pretty unreal!

 

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Our next stop in the desert was Makhtesh Ramon, a ginormous crater in the desert which you can read about HERE or on Wikipedia.

 

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And see plenty of pictures below.

 

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After the Makhtesh, we drove north (still in the desert) to Ein Avdat, where former prime minister David Ben Gurion and his wife Paula are buried.  This desert park has glorious views and is also the home to many ibex (goats).

 

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The desert views took my breath away!  I had no idea there was so much beauty in the sand!  On our way to the next destination, I got my first sighting of the famous Dead Sea.

 

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We made one more stop to explore some waterfalls and ponds in a newish looking park overlooking the sea before checking into our hotel for dinner.

 

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We spent that night at a hotel at the base of Masada tucked between the Dead Sea and the impressive mountain overlooking the country of Jordan (which I attempted to capture in the photo below).

 

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The next day, most of the group was up WAY before the sun to hike to the top of Masada.  We had the luxury of sleeping in and taking the cable car to the top gliding over the many who were beginning to snake their way down to the base.

 

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The cloudless blue skies were picture perfect!  Prior to my trip, I didn’t know much about Masada, but this historic site had plenty to see and explore.

 

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Plus some magnificent views!

 

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After spending time around the Dead Sea, I was beyond excited to see and experience it!!!

 

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The first step is covering yourself head to toe in mud.  Then you let it dry, rinse it off, and walk right into the sea.

 

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Where you really just do float!

 

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It’s surreal and unlike anything else that I’ve experienced!

 

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I’m not sure when we left the Negev and entered the Judean Desert, but our last stay was at another kibbutz in the Judean desert where we spent the last few nights in Israel.

 

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With its desert mountain views, it was much different than the first kibbutz we stayed at.

 

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And WAY hotter.  I guess that is the desert for you!

 

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I’m sure it is obvious by my passion and photos that it was tough to leave this incredible and unique country!  I feel so lucky to have been given the chance to visit Israel, and I am really hoping to get back there again soon!

 

If you missed it, here are my previous Israel posts…

Arriving in Israel

The Holy City of Tzfat

Tel Aviv

Jerusalem

Arriving in Israel and Staying on a Kibbutz

So like my laptop computer, I decided to shut down for a few weeks while I was traveling in Israel.  However, unlike my laptop which quickly restarted and returned to its full, colorful glory, it has taken me some time to get all of my processes up and running again.  The good news is that this is because I was fully immersed in my travel experience and Israeli culture soaking up EVERY SINGLE moment.  The bad news is that it means I have no idea where to even begin blogging about my trip.

 

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I recognize that not many people that I’ve met have been to Israel.  (You definitely should have seen the checkout woman at Target’s face when I told her where I was going while she was ringing up my travel toiletries).  So I’d love to convey the beauty and heart of this tiny, but powerful country!  The flight there was long, but well worth it, even if I couldn’t sleep.

 

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After over 20 hours of sleepless travel!

 

We spent our first few nights on a Kibbutz in the Golan Heights.  I didn’t know what to expect staying at the B&B on a Kibbutz, but it far surpassed my expectations.

 

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And not just because of this glorious view!

 

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Our first day was as busy as can be including a visit to Mount Bental and my first view of the Syrian border.

 

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Followed by our first Mediterranean lunch…an amazing falafel sandwich made by the crazy falafel guy!

 

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I should probably take this time to tell you that I ate the most fantastic food on this trip!  I could seriously eat hummus and tahini three meals a day.  After lunch, we went kayaking down the Jordan River.

 

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As we drove back to the Kibbutz after an exhausting day, the sun was setting behind the hills.

 

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We stayed at the Kibbutz for the first 4 nights which allowed me to establish a little routine.  In the morning, I’d make some tea to drink out front in the courtyard while journaling or reading a magazine and try to keep the friendly kitties out of my room.

 

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During the day, we were usually out and about exploring the north east region of the country, but there was still plenty of time on the kibbutz for morning yoga, a crazy hot run, and a cool down in the pool.

 

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After 4 days, I was sad to leave but looking forward to moving on to Tel Aviv.  I definitely made a note to myself that I would love to come back and explore the Golan Heights and Sea of Galilee, and I would make reservations to stay back at this kibbutz.

 

Have you ever stayed at  kibbutz?

What did you think?