Dead Sea

After another comfortable stay in Madaba we headed for St.Georges church which wasn’t far away. St.George is mostly famous for a mosaic map of the Holy Land. ( oldest known map of the Holy land assembled from more than a million pieces of coloured stone) I’m not sure who made it exactly and I don’t think people really know but it was constructed in a Byzantine cathedral in the 6th century. It was rediscovered in 1884 but its unique character was recognized only in 1896, after the new Greek Orthodox Church of St George had been built over it.

We had to wait around 20 minutes for the locals to finish their prayers ( Madaba is home to a large population of Christians). The church itself, from the outside isn’t very spectacular but it wasn’t terrible either. The inside wouldn’t have been as interesting if it wasn’t for the various mosaic paintings scattered along the walls of the Holy church.

St.George - Travellingminstrel #
St.George – Travellingminstrel #1

After the locals had finished their prayers, we rushed in and had a few minutes to read and enjoy the mosaic map for ourselves.

Mosaic map - Travellingminstrel #
Mosaic map – Travellingminstrel #2

It was a bit worn down but you couldn’t expect it to be in perfect form since it was on the ground and was made in the 6th century A.D.

Mosaic map - Travellingminstrel #
Mosaic map – Travellingminstrel #3

After a few minutes of silence lots of tourists came rushing in so we left for Mount Nebo.

The promised land - Travellingminstrel #
The promised land – Travellingminstrel #4

Before we went to the main place on Mount Nebo where all the tourists go we went up to a small church (about 1 mile further up the hill from the main area) with a wonderful mosaic floor inside.

Mosaic floor - Travellingminstrel #
Mosaic floor – Travellingminstrel #5

Apparently some Bedouins had been camping on it several years ago and had lit a fire on top of it so you could see the remains of the fire.

Jed the invincible - Travellingminstrel #
Jed the invincible – Travellingminstrel #6

On one side of the hill you can see remains of lots of churches (Aref said they were churches) scattered about. It could have been a massive religious Pilgrimage site and maybe the churches were built there because they thought that was were Moses died.

A horse with the promised land - Travellingminstrel #
A horse with the promised land – Travellingminstrel #7

Mount Nebo was the place were Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and first saw the promised land of Israel. But before he reached the promised land he died but no one is sure of his burial site. The main part of mount Nebo had a spectacular view of the promised land even though it wasn’t blue sky (it’s getting colder in Jordan).

The promised land - Travellingminstrel #
The promised land – Travellingminstrel #8

After here we drove down to the lowest elevation on land, the Dead sea. Before we came I was expecting a reasonable sized lake, not too big and not too small but it was very long. Aref stopped at a small resort were we could walk down to the beach and use the facilities needed afterwards.
The Dead sea is made up of 34% salt which means it is roughly 10 times saltier than the ocean. It is 429 meters below sea level.

The Dead sea - Travellingminstrel #
The Dead sea – Travellingminstrel #9

It got surprisingly warmer when we got out of the car. We got ready then I went in with TUT for about 15 minutes (we didn’t let Jed go in) then mum came in with me and they swapped round once more. We had picked a windy and rough day so the waves were quite big and the current was pulling you to one side. Apart from that it was quite an experience to float in it.

Floating in the Dead sea - Travellingminstrel #
Floating in the Dead sea – Travellingminstrel #10

Then TUT and me both tried to swim the other way but he splashed water in my eyes (by accident, he said) so I couldn’t open my eyes or see to get out of the water but somehow I managed to get out with half my eyes shut, moaning. I reached mum and cried for the towel and she rinsed my eyes with fresh water (it helped a lot) and dabbed it with a towel. Trust me you do not want to get Dead sea water in your eyes! After that I decided not to go in again and let mum go in but she came back with salt in her eyes too.

So I think we had enough of salt after that so we left. It isn’t pleasant after you come out as you are stinging. Anyway one of the best things that day (after the floating) was the buffet. It was included in the price so we got plenty. Oh and it was delicious. Plenty of vegetarian food and good desserts.

After here we drove all the way to Aqaba only stopping twice for a view and some petrol, through a sand storm. Yes a sand-storm, you could hardly see anything with all the sand in the air and when we finally reached Aqaba we could see that the sand can damage a car easily.

We stopped outside the town in a hotel that was near the beach. There was a play area as well so every morning we woke up to the sound of “park” from Jed. We stayed here for 2 nights not doing much during the day apart from research, reading and writing.

We were going to do this whole trip in a different order but we changes due to the weather. It was already snowing in the north of Jordan and Aqaba was the only place where it WASN’T snowing.

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