We left our hotel in Tiberias and headed south where we would end up in the Dead Sea at the end of the day.
Our first stop on our way south was at a kibbutz called Kibbutz Gesher on the Jordan River. A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that is usually surrounded around agriculture. Jewish German immigrants founded this kibbutz in 1939. In their time as an active kibbutz, they often found themselves at the front lines of many of the wars fought in the country across the 20th century. In each of those cases, it was the civilians who lived in the kibbutz left to fight against the well-trained armies of Jordan and Iraq. The kibbutz is named (gesher means “bridge”) for the three distinct and prominent bridges on the property. We were able to go down past the Israeli border fence (which isn’t actually the border with Jordan, but more like a buffer zone”) to get a closer look at the Jordan River and the bridges.
Next, we went to Beit She’an. Here there are the remains of two different cities. At the top of the “tel” (man-made hill) there are the remnants of a Philistine city (with many other layers of cities underneath, making the tel). Below is a fully excavated Greco-Roman city that used to be part of the Decapolis. We saw the “cardo” or the main road that went through the “heart” of the city (where we get the word cardiology!) with large pillars lining the street. We also saw a very large Roman bath. Those who wanted to climb could climb to the top of the tel for overhead and panoramic views, while those who stayed below were able to get a guided tour with Elin through more of the ruins.
Our final stop was Jericho, which is in Palestinian-controlled territory. First we stopped at a lookout point where you could see a mountain that is believed to be the mountain that Satan took Jesus to when he was tempted. There are the remains of the We had lunch at a restaurant there. We were able to go onto the roof of the restaurant to see what remains of Jericho from the time of Joshua. It wasn’t much to look at, but cool to see such an old city still preserved.
From there, we headed straight to the Dead Sea. As soon as we got to our hotel, we dropped our bags and headed for the beach. While it was chilly, we had a ton of fun floating! Some continued on to the indoor heated pool with the Dead Sea water (so you could still float).
Overall, we had an amazing weather day, and Kari had a great birthday!