Digging & Exploring Caves, Castles & Cuisine in Israel


Good day,

I’m currently writing this from Le Meridien David in The Dead Sea as a warm salty breeze enters through my open patio door. We checked in at 10PM and were informed that the pool filled with salted water from the Dead Sea as well as some hot tubs and a massage service was open until 11PM, score. The pool was great and as I thought one hot tub wasn’t warm enough, this portly masseuse caught my eye and she gave me a solid massage while some gent played saxophone in the background, seriously.

I’m not even going to attempt documenting all that transpired today because frankly it’s a whole trip compressed into a day. As a result, I’ll give each event the respect it deserves by writing about them in more detail at a later date. Suffice to say, today included a visit to the Tel Zafit Excavation, The Refuge Caves from the Bar Kokhba Revolt in Beit Guvrin, lunch at a Kibbutz and finally a trip to something that was seriously stunning, Masaba near the Dead Sea before a traditional Bedouin dinner.

The Official Gath Excavation was good times and the ancient city is best known for the fact that it’s where Goliath from “David and Goliath” was from. The dig has been going on for several years and we were invited to help. What was cool was when you stepped down into the dig, you essentially jumped into a time machine and zoom back 3000 years in an instant. After lots of digging and shifting, one of the ladies from our group found an intact bowl of sorts, talk about beginners luck for our crew. Check out The Gath Excavation blog here.

From there we made our way to the Refuge Caves from the Bar Kokhba Revolt which was a Jewish Revolt against the Romans. These caves were so incredibly tight and windy it’s hard to describe. If you’re even slightly claustrophobic don’t even attempt this. You’re literally crawling on your knees or pulling yourself on your stomach for 10-15 minutes through this dark multilevel maze. It’s amazing to think people would hide out in there. These caves are located in the Beit Guvrin National Park and were a lot of fun, just be ready to get dirty. I made a video, hopefully it turns out as I really want you to experience this.

It was lunch time and we made our way to a Kibbutz where we were informed about their way of life both new and old and eat some delicious food. Everything was organic and homemade including the numerous loaves of bread and countless spreads made by one of the local ladies. In the past everything was free and you gave what you had and got what you need. Over time the Kibbutz went bankrupt and today they run similar to the previous style only now people are paid a wage for their inputs but still have that big family / community feel. I can’t stress enough how delicious the food was.

Next up was the Masada which are these fortified palaces built in Southern Israel near the Dead Sea. They were built on top of this isolated plateau by the gent we got familiar with yesterday, King Herod.. He built it as a place of refuge in case of a revolt and eventually it fell to the Romans. They took it over after they laid siege to the place in a most egregious fashion. The views from the top are stunning and Herod the Great really knew how to live. Supposedly a very popular event in the area is getting to the top for sunrise, it must be sublime.

Quite tired at this point we made our way to Kfar Hanokdim for a traditional Bedouin feast which needs little description more than the photo below. I’m quite familiar with the Bedouins after my visit to Jordan two years ago and the place looked like a logical choice for tourists already in the area to visit Masada. Whenever you hang with the Bedouins, get ready for some serious hospitality and a caffeine rush like you’ve never had before. If you’re down to get going, they certainly won’t put on the breaks and the coffee / tea tastes great.

Right now I’m exhausted as the time approaches 1AM, tomorrow I plan on swimming in the Dead Sea again as supposedly it has great healing qualities and let’s be serious it’s not everyday you get to visit.. It’s hard to believe that this will be the second time I’m lucky enough to indulge and this time I’m on the other side of the sea. Just floating around today in the pool reminded me of how special this place is. Until you actually float for yourself it’s really hard to describe the sensation, just know it’s sensational.

My batteries are literally dead and I plan on making as much use as possible of the bed below.

Tips hat,

P.S: In 5 days this blog and trip turn 3 years old and “you’ll never know unless you go” has never rung more true…

17 Comments

  1. Miret

    September 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Wow, a very intense day! Sounds exhausting but really amazing. Stunning pictures.
    Miret

    • Rob

      September 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Yes, it was certainly exhausting but totally worth it, love days like this. Also thanks for the feedback on the photos, I use the iPhone 4 and take lots and lots until I get it as right as I can. :]

  2. Ryan Gargiulo

    September 11, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I’m jealous of your dead sea swim. That’s definitely on my “list” of things to do in the near future. CONGRATULATIONS on 3 years. SHABL ROCKS!

    • Rob

      September 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks dude and I’m not sure of much but I do know you’ll probably end up here at some point. The sensation of floating is surreal and really difficult to explain but so cool.

  3. OpenConcept

    September 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Wow! So incredible my friend. What is the policy about filming in some of these areas. I assume pictures are expected but is filming “frowned upon” so to speak. Some of these places have Vlog written all over them for sure. Hope the cave vid turns out as that really looked like a “see to believe” location given its history. You must feel a crazy info overload in the last few days. Cant wait till ya get it all down.
    Travel channel, history channel, food network, name it you should be doing it.

    Tips hat.

    • Rob

      September 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      The policy is pretty liberal for all of the above. It’s just quite difficult to manage taking photos and doing video when you’re on a group tour as you can’t go at your own pace. It’s like you have to choose one or the other and the written blog here is by far my specialty despite the fact that I love making videos.

      I have a few videos from the trip already though including two time lapses and lots of random snippets I can make into a full video recap type thing. The cave was nuts and soooo much fun, typically I don’t get all into that gear but really loved it and the history was almost tangible.

      Thanks for the kind words and hopefully one day on networks, I can dig it!!

      • elizabethmccall

        September 11, 2012 at 11:43 pm

        Wow! how incredible to live that experience, bet you thought you’d died and gone to heaven,amazing!

        • Rob

          September 12, 2012 at 12:19 am

          It was quite incredible. I’ve had lots of memorable days but yesterday was special and I won’t soon forget it, if ever.

  4. Jill

    September 12, 2012 at 5:18 am

    Sounds absolutely amazing!!! Thank you for sharing!!

    • Rob

      September 12, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks Jill, had a great time!

  5. Larissa

    September 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Crazy, looks incredible! I can’t believe you did all this in just a few days…and already wrote about it all. You, my friend, are a machine.

    P.S. You know, Goliath from “David and Goliath”..I don’t know why but I LOLed hard at that one. I actually know like 5 Goliaths.

    • Rob

      September 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      hahahah there is always the “Goliath Grouper” and yeah, this was actually all in ONE DAY. :] These trips are jam packed as most write much later, no there though we keep it real!(time)

  6. charlie

    September 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    So the Jews would hide from the Romans in the tunnel? Man I would not want to have been the Roman soldiers told to crawl in there after them. The spread at the Kibbutz looks awesome. That’s the kind of snack food that will hold you over for hours.

    • Rob

      September 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Indeed but I don’t think they crawled in, they smoked them out and picked up the pieces after. One of those places that was cool to climb but eerie when you sat there and felt the history of the place.

  7. The Orange Backpack

    November 13, 2012 at 6:16 am

    I actually tried to get to the top of Masada before sunrise. Didn’t quite make it all the way before the sun was up but I was close enough. Amazing view!

  8. Ryan Brown

    October 2, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Wow dude, this sounds like one helluva day and trip. Might I say gnarly? Haha. That food looks phenomenal, but I’m would love to be on a dig site like that! I fantasized as a little boy to be an archeologist. Congrats on the blog turning 3!

    • Rob

      October 2, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Yes, one could most certainly say gnarly! ;-)

      Big fan of days that combine lots of elements in a go go style so every part is filled with no downtime. Since you’re journey is just sorta starting, I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities to make that childhood dream a reality, good sir!

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