We left Jerusalem for an hours drive to the northern end of the Dead Sea, which lies 417 meters below sea level. The Sea is 45 KM long and 14 KM wide at its widest point. It is also the saltiest body of water on Earth, which is why it is called “the Dead”-- no organisms live in its waters. The rich mineral content of the water makes skin and beauty products highly prized both within Israel and abroad. Upon our arrival at about 9:00 am, the public access beach was closed; but Benni and Jiri pulled some strings with the manager and snuck us in for a quick dip. They warned us that the water was cold at 75 F; it is normally well into the 90s. After stumbling awkwardly over the gravel, rocks and mud we floated effortlessly in the water for about 20 minutes before high-tailing it back onto the highway to Masada. Even Erin managed to float without a problem…that’s a lot of salt.
An hour and a half later we arrived at Masada. This is a perfectly timed and incredible historical stop on the four hour drive from Jerusalem to Eilat. Masada is an ancient fortress atop a plateau that is roughly 1,300 ft. high and overlooks the Dead Sea. Judaean king Herod the Great constructed this summer palace at about the time of Christ. In 73 CE it was the refuge of the last survivors of the Jewish revolt (the “Zealots”), who chose death over capture by the Roman army.
A gondola took us to the top despite Erin’s and my request to hike to the fortress. While the hike wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, we didn’t have any time to spare. Views of the Sea and surrounding mountain ranges are absolutely stunning and I’m motivated to finally purchase the movie.
After a quick bite to eat, we were back to the van for a two hour drive south to Eilat. Finally, we arrived in the land of Israman and the typical pre-race excitement and frenzy of triathletes.
Author Barbara Mica is a contributing editor to EverymanTri.com. Barb is a four time Ironman finisher and ITU Long-distance Championship triathlete. She has run more marathons than she’d like to remember. She and her family travel to many international race destinations and enjoy learning the lifestyle and culture of the host countries.