Thursday, December 22, 2022

Floating in the Dea Sea then Jerusalem

We woke up, had some hotel breakfast at Ein Gedi, then continued on our holy, holy journey.

I was excited that they had some local dates in the gift shop. I've seen date tree groves on the side of the road and have kept my eyes peeled for some sort of touristy way of interacting with them. Date tasting? Farm tour? Can a brother get a date?

You can see the Dead Sea from the hotel parking lot. Lookin all dead. There's a little blurb about Ein Gedi in my Lonely Planet.

"Ein Gedi (literally 'Spring of the Kid', as in 'young goat') was first settled during the Chalcolithic Age (5000 years ago), when people just out of the Stone Age built a temple here. In the Bible, David fled to Ein Gedi to escape the wrath of Saul (I Samuel 23:29), and the oasis has a cameo role in the love poetry of the Song of Songs (1:14): 'My beloved is to me as a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Ein Gedi'. More recently, the erotic waterfall scene in one of Brooke Shields' worst movies, Sahara (1983), was filmed in Ein Gedi."

The delicious dates.

For breakfast we checked out the dairy restaurant, having conquered the meat restaurant last night.

I examined this very thorny tree.

There should be a warning sign to protect Lydia-types from themselves.

We did a little hiking at Wadi Arugot. The lady in the visitor center was very adamant that we bring multiple liters of water with us. I assumed she was just trying to sell water so I mostly ignored her. We didn't have time to do the whole trail anyway.

This was kind of fun because it was the desert but with a little stream in the bottom of the ravine, and so there was a little line of lush green plants below us.

Never trust an ibex.

There were a couple of resorty area ways to interact with the Dead Sea. We chose Ein Bokek Beach.

There was so much salt buildup that the beach was crunchy.

Tasted salty too.

I found a Russian coin in the Dead Sea because I'm an expert treasure hunter.

Rich man happy dance while floating. It was so easy to float that it was sometimes difficult to "stop" floating.

There were really funny announcements about how dangerous the water was and to call 911 if you got any in your mouth. Really it's amazing they let people in here at all. I definitely had some burning sensations in a few places that I won't elaborate upon.

It looked like there used to be some date farm roadside fun but no longer. Sad.

We stopped at a gas station and got some snacks.

Jerusalem was very clearly not Tel Aviv. Everything was older and traffic was very much worse.

It seemed fitting to start off our trip to to the holy land with some golden idol worship.

Some people had these outdoor lantern-like menorahs outside their houses.

The Israel Museum

This candle holder was one of my favorites.

The Shrine of the Book was an underground bunker of a museum which housed some Dead Sea Scrolls.

There were some very artsy menorahs in the museum store.

We had dinner at the Eucalyptus.

We were pretty underwhelmed with the food. At one point the chef came out to talk to us.
He said he cooked in Kansas City, "oh we’re from St. Louis." "I get a lot of my meat from St. Louis." You're telling me you ship meat from St. Louis to Jerusaelm?  Later he came by pimping his Netflix show and upcoming cookbook.

Not only was the food pretty terrible and repetitive but the service was also horrible. There’d be several empty dishes on our table and they’d come by with another course looking for space on the table but not take any of the empties. HAVE YOU BEEN TO A RESTAURANT BEFORE? Maybe the plate taker was sick that day.

There were three different meat and potato dishes. At the end our server asked us if we wanted to try anything again. I should have said yes just to torture Lydia. This was supposed to be holy land dishes and ingredients. Instead it looked like something you could assemble from the buffet at Golden Corral.

Bar mitzvahs seemed to be happening everywhere. The entire country is sort of like Chuck E. Cheese for children's birthday parties. Local children everywhere as well. Teenagers huddled in large packs on their birthright group trips. At times I felt like I was trapped in a Jewish theme park.

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