I was dragging a little bit this morning because of the lack of sleep and had to pick up the pace following a SOLID breakfast to repack my bags, take a quick shower and be on the bus for an 8:00 a.m. departure to the Masada National Park.
Our group left right on time (AS USUAL) and set out for the 90-minute drive to the dessert...did you know that the rock of Masada towers almost 1,000 feet above the Dead Sea...and it has been called the most spectacular archeological site in Israel.
A little history for you on Masada...it was on this mesa in 43 BC that Herod the Great seized an existing fortress and used it as a retreat from his potentially rebellious subjects...PRETTY SOLID INFO.!!!
While on the tour, we visited the MAGNIFICENT three-tiered palace, a Roman bathhouse and a HUGE water cistern hewn in the rock. Visitors can ascend to the summit by foot via a Roman ramp or by a cable car...our group took the easy road and went with the cable car. The temperature was a toasty 104 degrees in the desert, but we were provided with a cool breeze on the mountain top (for the MOST part) and a SPECTACULAR view from the summit...it was PRETTY HOT up there, but a DRY heat...hahaha!!!
After the two-hour tour, we made our way to a hotel overlooking the Dead Sea for lunch...ANOTHER buffet. I just want to clarify something before I continue...the food in Israel has been VERY GOOD, but I personally have a TOUGH time with portion control. I went with rice, couple chicken tenders, a pita with hummus, cooked carrots and cabbage...I thought I did alright with today's portion control...BUT then came dessert...the hotel offered an ENTIRE table FULL of cheesecakes, pies, cookies and ice cream. I couldn't decide on my first walk down the table so I HAD TO go with two pieces on the second trip...I chose the chocolate cheesecake and the apple pie...SO TASTY!!!
We had about three hours of free time following lunch to spend at the hotel pool or in the tropical blue DEAD SEA...did you know that the Dead Sea is situated some 1,300 feet BELOW sea level and is the LOWEST point on the face of the globe. In Hebrew, the Dead Sea is called the Salt Sea and in Arabic the Stinking Sea.
A little more food for thought regarding the Dead Sea...it is the most saline body of water on the face of the earth and contains NO LIFE of any sort...hence the name DEAD SEA...you can't slide anything past me!!!
It wasn't that I didn't believe I would float in the Dead Sea, but I had to see it first hand to TRULY believe it...and see it I did...IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE. I couldn't comprehend how blue, how warm and how dense the water was...I would go as far as to say that the water was warmer than when I take a shower...PRETTY CRAZY!!!
After having a chance to relax for a little bit, we returned to the bus and traveled for about 90 minutes to a Bedouin Village. For those who don't know, Bedouin's are Arabs and nomad herdsmen who dress in flowing robes. Many of them live in tents and possess camels, donkeys and goats.
We began the 90-minute tour with some traditional hot tea and coffee in one of their tents...and yes we drank HOT drinks in the MIDDLE of the DESERT with temperatures in the triple digits. There was a short but IMFORMATIVE explanation about their history of the Bedouin's at the outset, before we had the opportunity to RIDE either a camel or donkey...Assistant Coach Todd Mitmesser and I named our camel Omar...IT WAS A FUN, FUN RIDE!!!
Following the trip around the village, we were treated with a traditional Bedouin dinner, consisting of pita with hummus as the appetizer with rice, red and green peppers, chicken wings, some sort of beef and onions for the main entree...it was NOT TOO BAD...I remember thinking about tonight's dinner and not knowing what to expect, but I think it turned out to be JUST FINE. For dessert, the village offered a VERY JUICY plumb...DELICIOUS and a HEALTHY WAY to wrap up a meal!!!
We then said our goodbyes to the village and got back into the bus for a two-hour voyage back to Tel Aviv and the Dan Panorama Hotel where we will spend our final three nights.
Tomorrow on the agenda, our group will begin the day at the Ayalon Institute and the Palmach Museum, before wrapping up the afternoon at the Maccabi Stadium and the Neve Tzedek.
Erev tov from Tel Aviv!!!
By Brian DeBenedictis, Women's Basketball Athletic Media Relations Contact
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