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Trip report Dead Sea area

Richmond, Michigan
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Trip report Dead Sea area

Wednesday our final destination was Kfar Hanokdim for a Camel ride and an overnight stay in the desert. But had a couple stops along the way. First stop was way up in the Judean hills. We visited a couple who manufacture Harps by hand. They make them as they were made in Biblical times. They would be in the same style that King David used. Micah and Shoshanna own Harrari Harps

Was a very special experince going there. Not only did we get to see how the Harps were made. We also learned of the Harps very special relationship to worship. Didn't make a Harp purchase, but I think we will. You can have the wooden part of the Harp hand carved to whatever design you choose. Going to have to give that some thought.

Next stop along the way was Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park. Only had time for a short visit. We went into The Bell caves, which were very cool. And we were the only ones there so I could check out the echo effect of the caves without bothering anyone. We also were able to visit the Sidonian caves, they were very interesting as well with all the niches that were carved out in there.

Back on the road, next stop was The Yatir Forest Winery for a visit. Again we were the only ones there. This Winery is a division of The Carmel Winery, the biggest in Israel I believe. Yatir wine is made totally of their own grapes and they have their own special taste. Was a very nice visit, got to have a taste of their wines, along with some bread and Israeli cheese. As well as touring the winery. It's only a few minutes from Arad and well worth a visit if your in the area.

Okay, on to Kfar Hanokdim. After checking in and unloading our stuff, they were ready for us to hop on the Camel. I say Camel singular because 2 ride on one, and we had a private ridding because none of the big groups that came later were there yet.

Was a short but pleasant ride, very peacefull.

After the ride we had a couple hours till dinner. They have a shopping area there, a couple purchases were made.

Bedouin dinner in the tent was very good. Was given way more then we could eat. After dinner we got to listen to a local Bedouin tell us of the way of their lifestyle. Was very interesting, the world could take a lesson in their basic ways of treating each other.

Hung out for a bit checking out the stars, and there are many to see out here in the desert. Got to bed early, have an early start to the Dead Sea King David Hotel on Thursday.

Gippsland, Australia
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1. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

I am so glad you got to see Shoshanna and Micah. Shoshanna is such a lovely person and is so interesting to listen to.

I loved the Bell caves also... It was actually good being there with a group because the acoustics were so great when we all sang together. The guide we had in the year we went played the recorder exceptionally well and that was one place he chose to play the most beautiful Israeli music. It sounded incredible in the caves and everyone who came in fell silent immediately on hearing the beautiful music. We didn't see the Sidonian caves... that is on the agenda for another trip if we manage it.

What a great day you had!

Richmond, Michigan
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2. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

Very cool Heather, I can just imagine hearing singing in the caves with their acoustics.

And thanks for the tip on Shoshanna, she gave us pleanty to think about. We did make a small purchase there. They make what they call door knockers.

Picture a Harp with 4 strings going across at different lengths. Then balls on strings hang down that will hit on the Harp strings. You put this on your door, and when it's opened, the balls hitting on the strings make a beautiful chime.

Israel
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3. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

Enjoying all your reports Shawn - we must have passed each other on the road yesterday - since I was with one of those "big groups" but we had our Bedouin experience at ChanShayarot -and the stars last night were truly amazing - so very many of them.

Gippsland, Australia
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4. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

Yes I had seen the little door harps. When we went I thought perhaps we would get one of those... But my husband persuaded me to order something a little larger and so did Shoshanna when she saw me try out her nevel . I want to get lessons to learn to play it properly, but circumstances haven't worked out for that yet. It's a beautiful instrument though and I enjoy getting a little music out of it when I have time. :)

If anyone is interested, their website is here: http://harrariharps.com

Richmond, Michigan
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5. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

Left early Thursday for The Dead Sea with a very fine breakfast in our stomachs provided by Kfar Hanokdim. It is a very enjoyable place to stay for a day. A little on the rustic side, but that's what you expect at an Oasis in the desert. You can stay in a large tent there, most groups did this. Or have a air conditioned room with a soft bed and a shower, which we did. I guess were weren't roughing it to much.

Wanted to get to King David hotel early, drop our bags off, and head over to En Gedi for a visit. But there was a glitch, and I had a feeling it was going to happen. Booked a room threw Expedia months ago for the Le Meridien Dead Sea. It changed over to the King David, and I received a email notifying me. I called to make sure the reservation was still good a few weeks ago, they said it was.

Arrived at the hotel to check in and they had nothing on file of my reservation. Hmmm, now what. The girl behind the counter at King David was kind enough to call Expedia and ask whats up. They informed her they moved us to The Leonardo hotel a couple doors down. Went there, they never heard of me. Hmmm, now what.

If you can't say anything good about something, don't say anything at all, so i won't say anything about the Leonardo hotel.

The King David looked very nice, and seemed to have good service, we went back and booked a room there, and glad we did. I looked my itinerary number up on line on the Expedia web site, and it still showed us at the King David. Called Expedia, and was told they still have us at the King David. King David has nothing on us. Hmmm, now what.

I'll figure it out later, we have a very nice room here on the 14th floor overlooking the Dead Sea, to cool.

After all that, only really took about an hour, we dropped our bags off and headed for En Gedi. By time we got there it was 12:30, and very hot. Took a walk down to The David waterfall and washed my face off in it ( I wonder if David had done that we he was here hiding out from Saul).

We couldn't hike the whole park, it was just to hot. Headed back to the Hotel, and hung out by the pool for a bit. Then took the shuttle to the Dead Sea for a float. You actually can walk there from the hotel in about 5 minutes.

It's amazing that 200 pounds can float on top off the water like balsa wood. Was a lot of fun doing that. Back to the hotel, and to the salt water pool they have to hang out for a bit. Dawn enjoy the hotel pool more then the Dead Sea experience. Said the water was much cleaner in the pool, girls.

Wish we had time for some of the services the Spa offered, but we just didn't have time. Maybe we should have stayed 2 days here.

Got cleaned up, and made it down to the buffet style dinner that the hotel has in the evening. We didn't include it with our room when we booked, so we had to pay. Wasn't cheap, but wasn't over the top either. It was nice I thought, could have made a meal at the salad bar alone.

Had to get to bed early for that 4AM trek up Masada which is just down the road. Dawns not a morning person, really had to make some promises to talk her into this one

Gippsland, Australia
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6. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

Wow, Expedia really messed you around. I only booked once with them and got an unexpected result (nothing as bad as you did) but since then I have used www.booking.com or www.wotif,com (the latter is no good for Israel) and so far have not had a problem with either.

This year our Dead Sea night on tour was spent at the Leonardo Hotel in Neve Zohar - I don't know if that's the same place you are at, but that was one of our "not so good" experiences in hotels in Israel also - very disorganised. Some Leonardo's are fine and others don't seem to be as good.

It sounds like you had a good day despite all the hotel stuff so that's good. Best wishes for Dawn's dawn trek up Masada. I am sure she will enjoy it when she gets there because the views are magnificent. :)

Richmond, Michigan
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7. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

Hey Heather

Not knocking Expedia, we've used them many times in the past without problems. There was just a mix up. The hotel changing ownership just confused things. Didn't expect everything to go perfect on a big trip like this. It is an imperfect world after all.

When things go astray, you just have to adapt and move on and enjoy yourself. Was really a minor thing. If it ends up costing us a extra couple hundred bucks. I ain't going to lose any sleep over it.

Okay, up at 4AM for our trek up the snake path at Masada. Made it there by 4:30 from The King David hotel. I asked the night before, and they had a boxed breakfast for us ready at the desk when we left. The Kung Davd is a very nice place to stay BTW. Reasonably priced IMHO.

The boxed breakfast was a nice treat when we reached the top. But the best thing in the box was cold water, which we used up on the way up. We brought plenty of our own water, but the box water was colder.

If your very young, maybe you can run up the snake path. But if your a little long in the tooth, you may want to take your time and take breaks here and there along the way.

It was a pleasent surprise to find that a good part of the path is steps. I was expecting a rough, stoney dirt path the whole way.

Way made to the top before the sun peaked its head over the mountains across the Sea. There were loads of people up there, a lot of groups. We didn't see them on the way up. So I'm guessing they must have come up the Roman ramp, or spent the night.

When the sun did make it's apearence, it was a bit of a party atmosphere. Music was playing, and there were a lot of hoots an howlers.

Thing are getting light on the way up BTW, but it would be best to bring a flashlight for the start of the hike. It's pretty dark, we used the torch lite on our iPhone.

After the sunrise, we toured all the ruins up there. Very interesting place. This was a party place for Herod in my opinion. Who would build a party place, in the middle of nowhere. On top of a hard to reach mountain. Crazy

The view from up there is spectacular from all sides

The cable car starts at 8AM. We waited for it though most up there walked back down (no way was Dawn walking back down).

Was a very good experience, we were both glad we did it. Another check off the bucket list.

Back to King David to pack our things for Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom.

Gippsland, Australia
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8. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

Special Congratulations to Dawn! :)

I have never walked up and would not be able to now. The tour leader we had for our tour two years ago was an ultra-marathon runner as well as a pastor. He ran up Massada in less time than it took our tour group to go to the bathroom and go up by cable car! But maybe that's something for your next trip..... Dawn goes by cable car and you run up and try to beat her to the top? (Joking of course!)

Enjoy Shabbat! :)

9. Re: Trip report Dead Sea area

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