Israel: Ein Gedi & Eilat
January 1, 1970
Relaxing in Ein Gedi
Days 10-12 (Sept 15-17, 2014)
Click on the Cities/Sights in the grey italics to take you to the google maps Page for each location, where you’ll be able to see where it is, some images, and a brief description of each place.
Day 10 was quiet, but it turned out to be exactly what I had needed. I spent most of the day relaxing and regrouping in and around the incredibly beautiful hotel here in Ein Gedi. The hotel has access to mineral pools, swimming pools, the dead sea itself as well as a Turkish hammam bath (kinda like a steam room with running water into buckets and tables to lie down on). Naturally, I tried everything, and it was HEAVEN. The dead sea was so calm. There is no life in the water (because of its high salt content, hence “dead” sea), and there are no boats on the water (because the salinity would corrode all metal parts). Also, to avoided possible health issues from being in the water too long, people shouldn’t spend more than 15/20 minutes in the water. This in turn means that the beaches are also quiet, as people come and go fairly quickly. The combination of these factors makes this body of water unlike any other I’ve ever seen or been in. It was surreal, to say the very least. The ground leading up to and continuing beneath the water was salt rock. Hard, rough, and slippery. Floating in the sea was nothing short of amazing, and it turned out to be what can only be described as a “healing experience”. Within seconds of entering the water your skin feels different. Afterwards, cuts begin to heal quicker and skin blemishes begin to fade. I can only describe it as magic, and if I had it my way I’d start off every day for the rest of my life with a dip in this water.
Checking Out The Botanical Garden
Day 11 I left the paradise by the dead sea, but not before taking a long walk through the world famous botanical garden. I had heard about the garden here and was told it was spectacular. Small trails wind through the area, around tall and winding trees, short flowers and all kinds of cacti and bizarre looking desert plants. I’ve never seen such a wide range of plants in one place before, and left the garden feeling amazed, peaceful, and a little bit sweaty.
Next Stop, Eilat!
After checking out of my hotel in Ein Gedi, I headed down the winding road to the bus stop in the scorching heat, and waited literally in the middle of nowhere with no buildings or cars for as far as I could see. It looked like a scene from a movie, where everything was completely open and deserted (other than the hotel hidden up the hill), and nothing but myself and that little bus stop were visible among miles of dry hot Israeli desert. About an hour later (after my phone had died, I had finished my water, and I was completely covered in sweat and beginning to lose faith that I would ever be rescued), I was picked up by the very late bus headed to Eilat. Almost 4 hours after that, I arrived at the Orchid Resort Village Hotel, on South Beach, Eilat. The view, the room, the food and the pools here are amazing, and after spending the past couple of days relaxing, I’m going to try to have some fun tomorrow! Eilat is a huge vacation spot, so there are lots of activities to do all along the beach, and I’m sure I will be anything but bored.
Exploring Eilat & Saying Goodbye (For Now) To Israel
Day 12 was my second and final day in Eilat, as well as in Israel. I spent the morning at the Underwater Observatory in Eilat, which was absolutely amazing, with some of the best aquariums I’ve seen in my life, and an incredible lookout point from up top. Afterwards I went to the city for a bit of shopping, which is another BIG reason people go to Eilat, and I picked up a few souvenirs for my family. After taking a bit of a hit to the wallet, I walked along the beach of the Red Sea and went for a swim. The Red Sea was salty, but not nearly as salty as the Dead Sea, and the beaches here were made of small red and yellow rocks. It was a bit rough to walk on, much different from the soft sand at the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv, and the rough salty bottom of the Dead Sea at Ein Gedi. I waded in the water and relaxed on a chair nearby, until I was asked for $20USD for using the chair for an hour… so I decided to continue my walk for free instead. I guess that’s what you should expect when you go to vacation spots like this.
I didn’t spend much time in the hotel here, but I think that it worked out for the better anyways. Most of the other people staying at this hotel were locals on vacation, and almost none of the hotel staff spoke English, and were visibly frustrated with my inability to speak Hebrew. Their English was much better than my Hebrew, no doubt, but for a hotel that I had seen online seemed to take pride in being a large vacation destination with excellent customer service (that cost a pretty penny) and “had english speaking staff”, I was surprised. This hotel was one of the places I was most excited to visit initially, small villa rooms up the side of a hill overlooking the water, several pools on the property and amazing restaurants… and I wasn’t really impressed with it when I got there. It lacked a certain ambiance that I had found so much everywhere else in Israel, and to be honest it was the first time I felt a bit lonely, and just wished someone was there to hang out with or talk to. Looking back, I think that some of the things I enjoyed the most during my past 12 days in Israel were the things that I was initially the least excited about, just as the things I was most excited to do were not necessarily the highlights of the trip. It just goes to show that you never know until you try, (and that the most expensive spots aren’t necessarily the best ones) and I hope to keep reminding myself of that for the rest of my trip.
For now, I’ll have to say goodbye to Eilat, and all of Israel as I pack up my bags and get ready for Delhi, tomorrow! Look out India, here I come!