Dig Israel Day 3 - the Dead Sea and Mahane Yehuda Market - Alvinology

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.

1 comment
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