Woke up before the alarm so ran to the gym. Aaron and Julie will be proud: SQUATS!!! Then did some quick arms and my favorite part: running the hills of Jerusalem. I was only gone about 30 minutes in the gorgeous early morning light. Watching the sun rise was incredible and the people were very friendly that early in the mornings. Saw two other runners, too! Oh, and going down hill is far easier on the heart that uphill!
Our next stop (after breakfast) the Western (Wailing) Wall. We entered the old city through the Dung Gate and saw the edge of the Temple mount and the beginning of the Western wall. Lots of archeaological digs done here.
Nancy L. I tried to get lots of good pictures for you, but becuase today is Shabat no pictures, phones, writing, etc is allowed at the wall. However I did get a few shots from outside the square... and this one. Shhh. Don't tell.
Western wall with the Dome
Being a girl, I had to go to the smaller girly side of the wailing wall. No one was wailing, but there were lots of folks reverantly praying. We left notes on the wall and I got close enough to touch it but (as you can see) there were many many people there praying and worshipping. It was a moving experience.
After we gathered together, we headed further into Old Town Jerusalem. I could spend days there taking pictures and watching people. Shop keepers, mom's and kids... kids.. incredible.
We exited through the Jaffa gate, caught the bus and headed to the Dead Sea. When you leave Jerusalem, you exit south through a tunnel. On the other side the terrain starts to get more arrid and there is no further buildings. We stopped at Qumran to see where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. There were ruins there from a settlement that thrived from 200BC to 70AD. It was a strict society: if you gossiped you were punished. If you interrrupted another person speaking, you were punished. The punishment? 2 months of a solitary type confinement/ expulsion for the society. CRAZY. I'd be expelled immediately. Dan can attest.. I always try to guess what he's going to say next... poor guy. He deserves 100 camels for being married to me!
Incredible mountain views at Qumran.
Nancy, the pastor's wife turned me on to these Magnum Bars: THEY ARE MAGNIFICANT (and why I need to be running and doing squats EVERY day!) This is Maghum gold: Caramel and vanilla ice cream wrapped in crispy chocolate (and a gold finish). DELISH!
We stop at the Ahava store and shop. Dan gets stuff and so do I! Next stop our hotel for lunch then off to try out this crazy Dead Sea thing. We meet, we float we enjoy the sea. At first, when I walked in it felt like normal ocean water. It wasn't until I was all the way in that I realized I float without having to tread water... I can literally stand in the water and just bob around... it's crazy. The water feels very slick and oily and crusty when you get out of the water. It's done wonders for my sore knees (better than epsom salts!) but stings for a bit in any open cuts you have. The ocean is 3% salt while the Dead Sea is 32% to 34%. You are NOT to put your eyes or face in the water as it will burn like crazy.
At 5 pm, we went and got plastered with Dead Sea Mud which we let dry and then "recycled" by rinsing off in the dead sea. Here's the whole gang (minus me) doing their super model poses.
We have SUCH an awesome band of folks on this trip! Our Pastor, ROger and his wife, Nancy have pulled together an INCREDIBLE vacation and tour for us. Our bus driver Husam and guide Kobi are amazing as well. (they have retrieved 100% of all items forgotten at hotel rooms in Israel! Including my sweater!)