Before finishing the preparations for the Shikoku trip (start from Germany in 10 days), here is the last post of the diary.
On our last "discovery day", we drove further south, visited another beautiful part of the desert, swam in one of the world's saltiest bodies of water and finally visited Jericho, the oldest inhabited city on earth!
Today is not so hot, at least in Jerusalem... When we start, the thermometer of the car shows 28°C. At our arrival in Wadi Qelt, it already climbed to 37°C....
Wadi Qelt is a stream originated near Jerusalem and running into the Jordan River near Jericho and the Dead Sea. There, we can admire from above another gorgeous desert landscape, with the St. George's Orthodox Monastery carved in the rock deep in the valley below.
Our next stage is Nabi Musa, a site believed to be the tomb of Moses. Due to restoration work, it's unfortunately only possible to visit a small part of the area and we can just have a glimpse at the tomb of the prophet.
Now, we drive toward south, to the Dead Sea. First, we visit a site where the sea shore used to be. Indeed, partly due to intensive water pumping in the Jordan river by the Israelis and the Jordanians, the Dead Sea is receding at a rate of about 1 m/year. That's why after a few years the old building are abandoned and then new ones are built near the "new shore".
The Dead Sea is earth's lowest elevation on land. At the moment, the shore is at 430 m below sea level.
After burning my feet on the ground (it's so damn hot!), I go into the water. There, it's difficult to stand because of the weird shape of the ground, alternating deep mud areas with small bumps composed of salt crystals. Swimming is only allowed on the back and in reality, you're more floating than swimming. The texture of the water is very special, it feels like being in an oil bath.
Then, we drive to the last stage of the day, Jericho. This city is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, with the first settlements which dates back 11,000 years.
First, we visit the remains Hisham's Palace, dated to the 8th century and home to one of the largest mosaic in the world.
Sadly for us, a roofed construction is currently being built in order to protect the mosaic and we can't see it... So, we just stroll around the ruins of the palace.
Finally, we drive to the Mount of Temptation, the last biblical stage of our journey in Palestine. There, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and was tempted by the devil.
At the level of a cable car station connecting the town center of Jericho with the Monastery of the Temptation, we don't fasten and aren't tempted by the devil, only by a restaurant :-).
There, the food is not so great (apart from the very nice starters), but the view on the Jericho valley is stunning and we really enjoy our last evening in Palestine.
It was an unforgettable journey and I want to return as soon as possible to Palestine & Israel!
I hope you enjoyed this diary. See you very soon in Japan!