Waking before the Sun, excited to be traveling as a tourist for a few days we pack up and head straight off in search of the Dead Sea. With little idea of where to go and a dodgy map it's amazing we locate the road out of town without fuss.
Following the street signs I get a huge surprise an hour later when we hit a road block declaring itself as the "King Hussein Bridge", a border crossing with the West Bank.
First of all...
How did we miss our turnoff???
And second of all...
What's this bridge doing so close to the Dead Sea???
The easiest route for a tourist into Israel is through this border crossing but whenever I asked about it or searched on the internet I kept getting the same answer "One hundred and fifty kilometers from Amman"! I have only driven seventy at the most, hence my surprise. The good news is though, instead of trying to get permission from the Israeli embassy to use the other border crossing, it's not far out of my way to use this one. Beauty!!! :)
Turning back we relocate our turnoff and spotting tourist signs to Bethany, the place Jesus was baptized, figure it's worth a look. Arriving as the gate opens we are the only tourists in sight and soon realize why, you can only enter with a tour guide and the tours start at 08:30.
Eight thirty comes and goes but still no sign of the tour guides, the ticket man's in his office though so I go for a chat...
"Good morning. When's the first tour?"
"Good morning. Nine O'clock...usually"
"Usually?!? Can we definitely have a tour at nine, because if not we don't want to wait"
With a big grin "Okay, nine O'clock. Definitely!"
He's not very convincing but we wait it out anyway. Five minutes past nine the tour guide makes an appearance and we set off to explore Bethany. The ruins and the river Jordan are worth a look but what really gets my blood pumping is looking over at Israel. With my feet dangling in the water it's only 3m away!!! Cheating a bit I know since we drove here but still a good feeling ;)
Then it's on to a place I have fantasized about coming to ever since I can remember, the Dead Sea :) And I'm amazed to say it is everything I imagined. It's impossible not to float, on your stomach, on your back, trying to stay vertical...doesn't matter, you'll float. Awesome place! And I have to laugh at Steph's swimsuit :)
With the whole beach to ourselves it's heaven and if it wasn't for the extraordinary heat I'm sure we would be content for hours. But we aren't and before long we are once again hurtling along the highway a 120kms/hr on our way to Aqaba.
the small rolling hills of Israel can be seen on the other side of the sea, combined with the completely barren desert on this side stretching towards steep rocky mountains the scenery is magical!
A couple of hours of driving is all it takes to reach Aqaba and the Red Sea. Booking myself in for some dives tomorrow we find a great little hotel, go for dinner and have an early night...