The next day, departure by taxi to Qumran , in the northern part of the Dead Sea , about forty kilometers east of Jerusalem. We decided the same morning to stay there, and booked a room in a kibbutz nearby. The trip by taxi was negotiated before leaving, nevertheless the taxi driver tried to sell us all the way (nice, it goes down to the Dead Sea which is in a d expression over 400 meters below sea level) detours, obviously paid. But resist, and in about forty minutes we arrive at our kibbutz, a couple of kilometers from Qumran, protected from the outside by a checkpoint with a bar and military guard.
The beach along the Dead Sea is not so different from a normal bathhouse. But as soon as you enter the water, the difference is immediately noticed (Photo by Franco Sarcina)The desert near Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered (Photo by Franco Sarcina)
The beach along the Dead Sea is not so different from a normal bathhouse. But as soon as you enter the water, the difference is immediately apparent (Photo by Franco Sarcina) 1/13
The room is very pleasant, very clean and spacious , with a shower, plenty of hot water and a kettle to make tea and coffee. We settle down, and decide to stay two nights and spend the first day relaxing on the Dead Sea . We arrive by taxi (with a Palestinian plaque , at the checkpoint the Israeli military guard turns up a bit) in a beach a few kilometers away. The beach is equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas (the entrance ticket is included in the price of our overnight stay at the kibbutz) and has a nice bar that is self-qualifying as "the deepest bar in the world". Not a lifeguard bank; there are mainly Israeli tourists but also several Palestinians and someone coming from outside (we hear Italian). The day is quite gray and cloudy, but it is definitely hot.
THE HOLY CITY 31 October 2018
Travel diary: 10 days in Israel. First stop in Jerusalem
The bathroom in the Dead Sea is a very strange experience . Needless to try to stay on your stomach, the density of water does not allow you to swim in a traditional way; the best thing is to lie on your back and enjoy the impossibility of drowning moving slowly with your arms. But be careful not to get wet with water splashes: the eyes burn a lot and in that case the only solution is to get out and clean the salt with a shower. After the bath, as in the best tradition of tourists, we are scattered with mud from the Dead Sea , which seems to have healing properties. We had a bit of itching and, after rinsing, we found ourselves with red skin.
Let's go back to the sunset in the kibbutz, and end the day of break and relax by going to the minimarket and having dinner with cheese and other local products .
In our experience, sleeping in a kibbutz when out of the big cities of Israel is a good choice . Ours was very calm , very clean and equipped with all the necessary comforts; the price was still interesting. Also nice to find out how these micro-villages are organized : in our there was for example a kindergarten, a swimming pool and other buildings dedicated to community life.
Sixth day – Qumran, the Dead Sea scrolls and the desert
After a very abundant and excellent breakfast in our kibbutz, we face on foot, under a rather muggy heat, the few kilometers needed to get to Qumran . In this site a Bedouin found, in 1947, the first Dead Sea Scrolls . The Scrolls were written in a period dating back to between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD , in the period in which the Essenes , a group of Hebrews, who were monastic, were present at Qumran .
Admission to the site of Qumran, in the desert of Galilee , is subject to charges, but the visit is worth the price . It is easy, even for "do-it-yourself" tourists, to find an English group to join with a guide explaining what you are seeing. Also because the information on the signs, even if in English, are quite thin . The Erenian community led a rigid monastic life, with common meals and frequent purifying baths : despite being in an area with very little rains for more seasonal, the water was channeled to Qumran through a channel that descended from the adjacent hilland then collected in cisterns. Hill on which we climbed in complete solitude for a few hundred meters and where the landscape, completely deserted but full of ravines and caves , is fascinating.
In the desert area of Galilee , at least this season, it is very hot and there is a lot of dust. It is good to be equipped, even for walks of a few hundred meters, wit