My alarm went off at 0600 as I intended to go to Temple Mount at 0700 when it opened but as I still had plenty of time in Jerusalem I turned over and went back to sleep, finally getting up at 0800 as that was when the free breakfast was on, a couple of slices of toast and a cup of tea set me up well for the day.
A tram ride later I was back at the central bus station queuing for a ticket to take me to Ein Gedi, one of the settlements along the shore of the Dead Sea. It took just over an hour on the bus and I got out at the information centre where there was an overpriced hostel. I knew that there were 3 hotels further south (1,3 and 6km away) so I started walking along the road. I really should have done some research as neither of the first two were on the correct side of the road to have a beach front and neither did the 3rd although in the distance I could see another hotel with shat looked like people by the sea but at a couple of kilometers distance they were nothing more than small black sticks. I took my chances as I had nothing to lose and if it turned out they weren’t people there was nothing stopping me swimming anywhere I wanted other than ‘danger no swimming signs’ every few hundred metres. Knowing I would have to pay to get in of I went through the front door I went cross country which again in hindsight perhaps wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve ever made, especially in flip flops. The terrain was a mix of soft mud and very hard, sharp salt crystals, neither was pleasant to walk on especially not in the blazing hot sun within a rucksack on but eventually I made it to the ‘beach’ and my guess had been correct so I felt justified in my 2 hour effort to get there.
It didn’t take me long to change into my swim shorts before I cooled off in the salty water. For people who have never been the experience is truly unique, I for some unknown reason struggle to float in a normal swimming pool but here, at the lowest point on the surface of the earth, I had no trouble at all due to the high salinity of the water. I did however make the mistake of ducking my head under the water and came up with burning lips and the most painful eyes I have ever had. After floating for some time I got out and rinsed off, not fancying covering myself in mud like nearly everyone else even if it is meant to be good for you skin. I then dried and chilled in the sun reading for a good hour before going back into the water and getting the obligatory photographs in the water. Having once again dried in the sun I caught the shuttle ‘bus’ (a tractor pulling 2 carts) back up to the hotel. I then brazenly walked into the resort area, straight to the pool where I found an empty lounger and made myself at home. A clear, clean pool was a refreshing change to the saltiness of the Dead Sea. On my way out of the resort I realised it was actually a spa and catching a glimpse of the prices I saw that the cheapest one was over £100 so I really had saved a lot of money by walking all that way.
I caught a bus back to Jerusalem from where I found a little cafe to read in for a while. For dinner I went for a wander and found a little place on the corner of a crossroad where I ordered a Georgie which was a pulled pork sandwich with humus and some incredible, it was honestly one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, I also ordered a glass of wine and apparently in Jerusalem a glass really is a glass and I received a tumbler of wine. Because the sandwich was so good I ordered it again, with another glass. I left satisfied and felt I had got my money’s worth, especially as I hadn’t had any lunch.