After a late night and early morning, we left for Masada and the Dead Sea at 7:30 a.m. We, Greg & Jess, rented bikes through Tel Aviv’s bike share before the 2.5 hour bus ride to Masada to see the Old Town of Jaffa. We lost track of time while riding along the Mediterranean Coast and rushed back to the hotel to make it to the bus for another ‘on time’ departure.

We caught up on some sleep on the bus to Masada and were refreshed by the time we arrived. We already knew we didn’t have time to hike but were surprised to see the hike was closed due to the summer heat and lack of shade. At the top, our guide Itay did an awesome job recounting the history of Masada and it’s modern day significance in Israel today.

After Masada, we went to the Dead Sea. Matt and I were excited to go as it’s my (Deborah’s) first time in Israel and it tends to be a highlight for most. I was expecting it to be muddy, rocky and not nearly as beautiful as it turned out to be. We spent ten minutes at a time floating in the bath-like salty water as it was just as hot, if not hotter than the temperature outside. Many of the other ladies (and Greg) on the trip were purchasing bags of mud to coat their bodies with and bake in the sun while we laid in the shade on the 46 degree Celsius day.

We then loaded the buses at 3:00 p.m. to begin our two and a half our trip back to our hotel, but made sure to stop at McDonald’s of all places first. There, most people went off the bus to try the local cuisine. After the bus ride we went back to the hotel to relax until the night time activity.

At night we gathered in the hotel lobby where we headed across the street and had an outdoor Havdala service. There was a man who lead the service through song. Since this was in Tel Aviv in the summer, it was even more amazing as you had the sounds of Tel Aviv going on at the same time as the service. Following the service we broke off and went out for the night.