I have been hitchhiking, for the first time of my life, in the Judean Desert, beside the Dead Sea, 430 meters below the level of the sea. It has been amazing.
Sustainable & Smart Countries: Israel
But let’s give this story a bit of contest. Last week, I have been travelling in Israel, to work on a new project: Sustainable & Smart Countries, a new category of the blog, where to collect guides on how to travel in a sustainable and smart ways in new countries and cities. The category will include the biggest cities in the world but also alternative destinations that are not known from the mass tourism.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism of Israel and Israel Hostels, I had the opportunity to stay in some Sustainable Hostel and to visit the country. The time was limited, just one weekend, from Thursday to Sunday morning.
It was a last-minute trip, so I had not the opportunity to read much about the destination, but the opportunity was too big so I decided to start this adventure:
3 days and 3 cities to visit. From the hearth of Israel to the extreme south of the country, in the middle of the desert. The plan was supposed to be 2 nights in Tel Aviv, 1 in Arad and a couple of hours in Eilat.
Arrived in Tel Aviv, talking to the guys of the reception of the Overstay Hostel I had the first surprise: Saturday, for the celebration of Shabbat, there is no public transport. At all.
That changed all the plans.
After the first night in Tel Aviv, I had to choose: to stay in the city 2 more days, until Saturday night, or leave to reach the desert and the Dead Sea with the last train. The choice was easy, Tel Aviv is a beautiful and dynamic city but I am living in a big city, I spend all my days in a city, now I had the opportunity to explore the desert for the first time in my life. I didn’t even think about it, I was already on the last train to the city of Arad, in the middle of the Judaean Desert.
I arrived just on time for the sunset, and the view from the Dead Sea Adventure Hostel was stunning.
As said before, Saturday in Israel everything is closed. When I say everything I mean everything, by law. Especially in a small city like Arad.
The first problem was to reach the rock of Masada, 20 km away, but in the middle, there was the desert.
Hitchhiking this time was easy, I found a ride during the breakfast, two Italian guys with a car were headed in the same direction and back.
The place is incredible, a rock that dominates the Dead Sea. An ancient city in the middle of anything, rich of history and legends. At the hostel, they said that the best moment to visit it is just before the sunrise.
The Dead Sea
The best part of the trip. As I said also in other articles, I developed this idea that most of the times the best part of a trip is not the destination but the travel to reach it, in this case, the combination of the both was incredible. Why?
Because to reach the Dead Sea, I spent 2 hours walking in the desert, trying to hitchhike, once I arrived in front of this natural beauty the view was breath-taking.
The Dead Sea has an exclusive colour, between the green and the light blue, that is mixing with the white colour of the salt, creating a unique landscape. The salt, that is settling on the river of the Dead Sea, it’s incredibly white, it’s even brighter than the snow. But, when you enter the water, is when you have the strangest an incredible feeling, you start floating, without feeling the weight of your body. I had to leave early, before the sunset. Hitchhiking in the desert is hard, doing it by night is impossible.
I was on the roadside, in the lowest point of the planet, the bottom of the earth, waiting for a ride. It was funny and scaring, at the same time. I don’t know why but I was sure that someone was about to stop. So it was, after 30 minutes, a couple of young guys stopped, they were going back to Tel Aviv, and they offered to take me back to Arad.
While waiting, I started reflecting on that incredible place I had behind myself, so unique and at the same time so polluted. It was full of plastic seats from the resorts, metals, coca cola bottles and other plastic objects left by some tourists. How could people be so negligent? Nature is offering a spectacular landscape, why instead of admiring it are we trying to destroy it?
“A forest is mystery but the desert is truth. Life pared to the bone.”
― Keith Miller,