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Dead Sea Spectacular … and more from the Holy Land … part 1

December 14, 2011

Eye-opening and revelatory, Israel is a paradoxical paradise, though largely known internationally for its noxious and  toxic religious and cultural divide, this nation is a place of extraordinary natural beauty, millennia-spanning cultural achievements and some of the friendliest and most generous people to be found.  There are also lots of great meals to be had in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and elsewhere … and some people swear the best hummus in Israel can be found at a little place  near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

What follows is a photographic travelogue of various sites in Israel from 2-14 December 2011 … they range from sites in the Negev Desert including Ein Gedi, Masada, the Dead Sea, Mizpe Ramon, Be’er Sheva and Sde Boker, to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Caesarea, and stops along the way …

Dead Sea and horizon, 7 December 2011
Dead Sea and horizon, 7 December 2011
Dead Sea coastline, 8 December 2011 – The whitish section where the water meets the sand is not sea foam, it’s crystallized salt – and that’s the coast of Jordan in the background
This sign is omnipresent in the Negev Desert – first seen 7 December 2011.
After passing signs for Mt. Sodom, here’s what’s next – 7 December 2011
This is the figurative element that purports to be Lot’s Wife – located in a quarry on the side of the road in an industrial section of the Dead Sea – 7 December 2011
Ein Avdat National Park – 7 December 2011 – this is great place for a short (less than 2 hours) and magical hike through a bucolic valley then up the mountain side.
Ein Avdat National Park – 7 December 2011
Ein Avdat National Park – 7 December 2011
Ein Avdat National Park - 7 December 2011 - A vista from three-fourths of the way up the mountain
Ein Avdat National Park – 7 December 2011 – A vista from three-fourths of the way up the mountain
Morning, Ein Gedi Kibbutz – 7 December 2011

Ein Kerem in the Judean Hills is known as the birthplace of John the Baptist – the town is now considered part of greater Jerusalem.  There are a number of churches and other religious institutions including a church built on the site of the Baptist’s birthplace.  Down the street is “Mary’s Spring” where Jesus’ mother Mary drew water … the pairing of signs on the site is quite entertaining …

Mary’s Spring – Ein Kerem – 9 December 2011

 

Mary’s Spring – Ein Kerem – 9 December 2011

 

Mary’s Spring – Ein Kerem – 9 December 2011

Up the (steep) street (and steep set of stairs) from the spring is the Basilica and Crypt of the Visitation, the site where Mary, pregnant with Jesus, and her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, met and touched each other’s stomachs (whereupon the two unborn children jumped for joy in their mother’s respective wombs).

Basilica and Crypt of the Visitation – Ein Kerem – 9 December 2011

 

Basilica and Crypt of the Visitation – Ein Kerem – 9 December 2011

 

Sign greeting visitors at the Basilica and Crypt of the Visitation – Ein Kerem – 9 December 2011

 

Interior, Church of the birthplace of Saint John the Baptist - Ein Kerem - 9 December 2011

 

Interior, Church of the birthplace of Saint John the Baptist – Ein Kerem – 9 December 2011

 

More to come …

 

 

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