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  • Writer's picturePeter Antonucci

Eilat, Israel

Monday | September 26, 2016

Quote of the Day:  “Welcome to the Dead Sea – the only place in the world where jets fly below sea level.” – Our guide.

We arrived in Eilat this morning. Situated on the southernmost tip of Israel between Egypt and Jordan, Eilat is the nation’s only resort on the Red Sea. Mentioned several times in the Bible, the city was controlled at various times by Egyptians, Edomites, Romans, Christian Crusaders, Turks, and the British. Separated from the rest of Israel by the vast Negev Desert, Eilat’s development into a seaside retreat didn’t really begin until the 1970s.

We hired a car and driver and headed north on the 2 1/2 hour drive to the Dead Sea. This part of Israel is where the majority of salt farming takes place.


That is only natural because of the high salinity of the Dead Sea.


In addition, we drove by several algae farms, where algae is mined and then distributed for commercial purposes. Our guide also told us about the red algae mined in glass tubes. Those tubes are subjected to high intensity and high heat which turns the algae red. Salmon is farm raised nearby and farm raised salmon is naturally white. The red algae is fed into the water and eaten by the salmon, giving them their pinkish color.

Throughout the drive, Jordan was on our right, separated from Israel by two rows of tall barbed wire fences.


But the majority of our ride was straight through the desert.


We saw date farms.


At one point, as we got close to the Dead Sea, we came upon a huge magnesium factory where bromide is also manufactured. They also produce over 4,000,000 tons of potassium in a year at this facility.


Finally, we arrived at the Dead Sea.


We were in residence at the Herod’s Dead Sea Spa. Also there was a family from New York celebrating little Jerry’s bar mitzvah.


As we got out of our bus, our guide informed us that we were 1,407 feet below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. (We heard the same thing in Jericho the other day!) It is the only place in the world where jets can fly below sea level.

After maneuvering our way through the serpentine hallways and locker rooms, we finally ended up in the Dead Sea. The water contains 37% mineralogy and the exceptionally high salinity allows anyone to remain afloat effortlessly, while the high mineral content provides a natural health and beauty treatment.

So, for the next hour, we floated around.

A kettle bell would have floated in this stuff! We could even make “salt castles” the water was so salivated. The salinity is such that it is 9.6 times as salty as the saltiest part of the ocean.


It was an interesting, and indeed fascinating, experience, but I would not want to stay here for week– or even a full day.

At one point, one of my friends got water in his eyes, and they burned so badly he had to be led out of the water and have cold bottles of fresh water poured over them.

On the other hand, even though we were advised not to do so, I simply had to taste the water. It was so salinated, it felt almost acidic and my mouth burned.

When we were done with the water, we showered and enjoyed a hearty buffet lunch. One of the highlights for me was a healthy serving of calves brains, which we hadn’t realized were kosher.

Back on the ship, the Israeli navy kept an eye on us once again.



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