ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM

ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
ISRAEL 2016 // JERUSALEM.
Jerusalem was more of a pilgrimage rather than a fine art photographic journey for me. I didn't really have a need to take pictures other than show proof that I was actually here! And it felt good to put the camera away for a bit and just look. And feel. Feel the overwhelming religious history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in one of the world's most oldest cities.

A little downtime from the adventure-filled Jordan trip was also on the agenda in Israel. Doing short stints of sightseeing and exploring per day def helped on that path to mental recuperation. And the fact that it was Passover, many places closed down really early anyway (or close down all together!) and went Kosher, so finding beer and bread was like a needle in a haystack. The same gameplan in Jordan was also followed in Jerusalem: wake up really early, travel to certain sights, spend time at sight, then scamper back to the hostel to wait out the hottest part of the day. This usually meant we made it back in time for free breakfast. This also meant we had an uber long stretch of hours to kill before evening time.

Which we productively took advantage of.

While Vince worked remotely away in his makeshift office in the lounge, I did things like napped and showered and caught up on photog projects from past travels. That alone was one of the main reasons why we stayed a week in Jerusalem. It bothered me to have all these photos queued up - at least 3,000 images! - and not enough time to research upcoming travel destinations! So it felt more like crunch time during those downtime opportunities.

With the gift of time came along the unexpected plethora of fellow travelers we've befriended. And honestly, my favorite part of our Jerusalem trip. I don't think I ever made this many friends at a hostel other than the time I lived in those residencias in Spain. It was refreshing, if not reminiscent of my college days or Spain days, to easily talk hours on end or even get into odd adventures with these fellow wanderlusters with no care in the world. Literally, no care - no 8-5 job, no errands, no appointments, no nothing.

This is why I love traveling. And this is one of the many reasons why I love this particular hostel. But Israel is a pricey place! As much as I want to stay here longer - Israel, you're taking all my money! It was time to move on to the next country!

--

When: April 2016
Temp: 60-85F
Stay: The Post Hostel. (~$27 for 10 bed dorm, ~$30 for 8 bed dorm.)

Places we visited: Mechane Yehuda Market, Old City, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall, Mount of Olives, Temple Mount, Dome of Rock, West Jerusalem.


-jin-

ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI

ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
ISRAEL 2016 // DEAD SEA + EIN GEDI.
Siraj, our boisterous English hostel roomie, swooped in one Saturday morning with a spontaneous proposition: He'll rent a car, we'll all go to Ein Gedi, do some waterfall hiking. Him, Vince, Marcela (the Polish roomie in our 10 person room) and me.

In a few hours time, we were in that rented car with our swimming gear and off on a 2 hour roadtrip to Ein Gedi, with Siraj taking the front seat. Siraj, we collectively found out the hard way, is quite the aggressive driver. Borderline loony driving skills, really. Think most of us spent the car ride fighting off dizziness and nausea. But despite all that, we somehow still marveled at the passing, arid desertscape, watching it transform into the soothing Dead Sea scenery. That Dead Sea. It's all kinds of serene. With a hazy (salt?) cloud looming over the waters, filtering the harsh sunlight. We stopped at a cliff to take in the Dead Sea serenity for a quick minute before getting back on the road.

Now I'm fairly certain we got to Ein Gedi in 1 hour instead of 2, somehow making it in one piece, thanks to Siraj. Or thanks to God - I don't know who to thank! But nevertheless, ready to see the waterfalls that Siraj made a big fuss about. Only an hour or so hike up the mountain. In the heat. At high noon. Double oi. Luckily, there were many little waterfalls along the upward climb, each time we stopped to cool off in the waters and shade before moving on. My kind of hikage. In a few hours time, we were back down the mountain and wondering what to do next.

The Dead Sea. It's just right there! Yeah, why not?

There are a few places along the Dead Sea to enjoy the waters, just that most of them cost money to access the beach. Which kinda blows. Luckily, about 30 minutes south of Ein Gedi there's a free beach. Ein Bokek. It's not the nicest beach and it's quite crowded. But, it's free. Spent a solid hour or so, floating around in the waters and hanging out on the beach by the time dinnertime rolled around.

Floating effortlessly in the Dead Sea is quite the mixture of feelings. On one hand, it's amazing how freakishly easy it is to just float. No fear of drowning here. On the other hand, that high salt content is quite fierce. Every open skin, cut, scratch - you will instantly feel with a vengeance. It stings beyond what you'd expect. Stepping out of the waters is equally just as interesting. A layer of white, flaky salt residue appears on your skin as you're drying, the swimsuit hardening along the process. It might take a few douses underneath the open-air showers to feel somewhat clean.

But to say that you floated on one of the saltiest and lowest places on Earth? Cross that off the bucket list!

--

When: April 2016
Temp: 50-80F

Car Rental in Jerusalem: Middle East, 190NIS/day, only certain cars are allowed and insured in Palestine.
Dead Sea Hike/Waterfall Mountain Trail: Ein Gedi, 1.5hr drive from Jerusalem.
Free Public Dead Sea Beach: Ein Bokek, 2hr drive from Jerusalem.


-jin-