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Dig Israel Day 3 – the Dead Sea and Mahane Yehuda Market

Dig Israel Day 3 – the Dead Sea and Mahane Yehuda Market
Asaf and I

Asaf and I

On my third day in Israel with the Dig Israel team, we started the day exploring the Dead Sea on our own before making our way to Jerusalem where we will be spending the rest of the days for our trip.

Group picture at Jerusalem

Group picture at Jerusalem

I woke up early, excited to float myself in the Dead Sea.

I love to swim and I like getting wet. I have always seem cool travel pictures of others reading a book or doing something mundanely ordinary while floating effortlessly in the Dead Sea unaided. I was determined to get a shot like that myself.

View from my hotel room

View from my hotel room

The sea was a short walk from the hotel. There is a free buggy service provided that shuttles between the sea and the hotel at regular intervals. I gladly boarded one after a breakfast.

Hotel breakfast

Hotel breakfast

Free buggy

Free buggy

I was surprised to be the first person at the beach from our group. I thought the others would be as excited too, but everyone was probably too tired and slept late. I was joined by Ilona, Beit and Jane subsequently.

Buggy drop-off point

Buggy drop-off point

The white building is the hotel I am staying in; a short walk from the beach

The white building is the hotel I am staying in; a short walk from the beach

Here I am at the beach

Here I am at the beach

Time to get wet in super salty water

Time to get wet in super salty water

You can pick up lots of salt crystals like these off the floor

You can pick up lots of salt crystals like these off the floor

With Jane’s help I managed to get the floating shot which I wanted:

Me floating in the Dead Sea

Me floating in the Dead Sea

Ilona and Beit

Ilona and Beit

Young Jackie looking really tranquil

Young Jackie looking really tranquil

Time to get back to the hotel

Time to get back to the hotel

Another shot of the beach

Another shot of the beach

This picture looks really inviting doesn't it?

This picture looks really inviting doesn’t it?

I wished I got my hands on some of the black mud to paste all over my body though. That would have made for another excellent shot. Perhaps next time.

A little background about the Dead Sea, via wikipedia:

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are 423 metres (1,388 ft) below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea is 377 m (1,237 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world.

With 33.7% salinity, it is also one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. It is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea is 67 kilometres (42 mi) long and 18 kilometres (11 mi) wide at its widest point. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.

The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. Biblically, it was a place of refuge for King David. It was one of the world’s first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from balms for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets. In 2009, 1.2 million foreign tourists visited on the Israeli side.

Why are we able to float so effortlessly in the Dead Sea?

Well, in simple terms, it is because the water in the Dead Sea is so dense with salt and minerals that it is heavier than human density. Nature is intriguing.

While the floating part is cool, getting Dead Sea water in your eyes or any open wounds is not. Be warned not to shave before soaking in the Dead Sea unless you want your pores to feel like they are getting stung by a thousand needles. Do not splash water at your friends’ eyes. The pain is excruciating.

The floor bed of the beach is littered with pointy salt crystals, making them prickly to walk on. I was fine walking on them bare footed, but some others in my group had to wear slippers or sandals. Hence bring footwear if you have delicate soles.

In the afternoon, we headed to Mahane Yehuda Market (Hebrew: שוק מחנה יהודה), a marketplace in Jerusalem. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the market’s more than 250 vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; wines and liquors; clothing and shoes; and housewares, textiles, and Judaica (objects used by Jews for ritual purposes).

At the market, I bought some Israeli halva (sesame cake) and dates to bring home, sampling some street snacks along the way.

Fruit stall

Fruit stall

Olive oils

Olive oils

Bagels and croissants

Bagels and croissants

Inside a bakery

Inside a bakery

Melon seeds and nuts

Melon seeds and nuts

Assorted candies

Assorted candies

While we shopped round the market, some like our guide, Michael, sat down and chill at a cafe

While we shopped round the market, some like our guide, Michael, sat down and chill at a cafe

Spices and such

Spices and such

The guy with the beard was being filmed for some TV programme

The guy with the beard was being filmed for some TV programme

One of the many small stalls

One of the many small stalls

Pistachio, other nuts, dried prunes and such

Pistachio, other nuts, dried prunes and such

Assorted candies

Assorted candies

A small flower shop

A small flower shop

Shopping for vegetable

Shopping for vegetable

Fishmongers

Fishmongers

An ultra-orthodox man buying fish

An ultra-orthodox man buying fish

An elderly ultra-orthodox man chatting with his friend

An elderly ultra-orthodox man chatting with his friend

Aged sausages

Aged sausages

A guy buying fruits

A guy buying fruits

Pomegranate

Pomegranates

Stall selling all kinds of cheeses

Stall selling all kinds of cheeses

Olives, flavoured differently

Olives, flavoured differently

Israeli snacks

Israeli snacks

Sweet snacks

Sweet snacks

Mini doughnuts

Mini doughnuts

Different flavour halvas. I bought two slabs - chocolate and original

Different flavour halvas. I bought two slabs – chocolate and original

I bought some dried dates from this guy

I bought some dried dates from this guy

Different kinds of cookies

Different kinds of cookies

Preserved dates, prunes and such

Preserved dates, prunes and such

Friendly shopkeeper at this bakery

Friendly shopkeeper at this bakery

Matan helping Ilona with her shopping

Matan helping Ilona with her shopping

Flower tea

Flower tea

Figs

Figs

For lunch, we dined at a Kurdish restaurant which served some really amazing soups. The restaurant does not have an English name, but I took a picture of the signboard:

We had lunch here

We had lunch here

The students from Dig Israel helping us to order our lunch

The students from Dig Israel helping us to order our lunch

Restaurant interior

Restaurant interior

Picture frames all around

Picture frames all around

Shelves of knick knacks

Shelves of knick knacks

Assorted pickles, humus, pita bread and a pitcher of juice was served first

Assorted pickles, humus, pita bread and a pitcher of juice was served first

There's only three kind of soups - this is the yellow one

There’s only three kind of soups – this is the yellow one

The first orange one

The first orange one

The other orange one

The other orange one

 After lunch, we headed to the City of David (Hebrew: עיר דוד‎), the oldest settled neighborhood of Jerusalem and a major archaeological site due to recognition as biblical Jerusalem. Stay tuned for my next update. 🙂

For all my posts on Dig Israel, CLICK HERE.

About The Author

alvinology

Alvin is a marketer by day and blogger by night. He is a 100% geek who spends too much time surfing the web.

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