Dead Sea shores

A stark, arid landscape. Temperatures of 45°C. And a body of water that’s like a warm bath. Doesn’t sound appealing?

Well you’d be surprised. I had a week of relaxation on Israel’s Dead Sea coast at the small resort of Ein Bokek, and it was a haven for many holidaymakers.

The water is saline-rich and packed with minerals, so floating around in it aimlessly is a popular pastime. Piling on pounds of black Dead Sea mud and leaving it there until it bakes is another way to occupy the hours.

The hazy blue hues of this strange environment are entrancing, while I enjoyed the stark architecture of the sprinkling of big hotels. The calm reflections of the water and bathers drifting around in the brine just cried out to be captured. 

Go beneath the gallery to read a cautionary tale for travellers

Click first image to see gallery

Departing from Israel via Tel Aviv airport is an unnerving experience. Before you queue up at the check-in desks, there is a line of security officers, and I wasn’t prepared for at least half an hour of questions about why I’d been in the country and what I’d been doing.

The grilling became increasingly awkward and stressful. Why had I only visited the Dead Sea? Why did I have to alter my flight? Do you have the receipt for that? It felt very intrusive for someone who had innocently been relaxing by a salty pool. Three officials later and almost losing my cool, my suitcase was tagged and I was relieved to be on my way.

Only back at home did I discover the card slipped into my case which informed me it had been manually searched after check-in, which did nothing to reduce my sense of unease.

I set about doing some research and found out that it’s not uncommon to face quite tough security questioning on departure from Tel Aviv airport. As a lone male I was of immediate interest. Also, the ‘interrogation’ is a way of measuring an adverse or suspicious reaction. In my case they noticed a trembling hand and wondered if I’d seen a doctor for treatment!

Israel considers this a good method to ensure aircraft leaving its airspace are safe and is unlikely to change. It’s best to be forewarned and keep calm during the process. However, it did nothing to make me feel valued as a visitor to the country. I maintain that I won’t go there again.

4 thoughts on “Dead Sea shores

  1. What a beautiful set of images and such a relaxing holiday. What a shame it had to be tainted by your experience at the airport. Given the amount you have been abroad over the last year to eighteen months, I guess there is a positive in that you have not encountered this elsewhere and that it has not put you off travelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your exit was such a contrast – you have captured the calm of this intriguing area in the cooler months (I went one May – phew!) I especially like the shade shot and the wide format you have given all the photos in their understated hues (though the salt mineral crystals is starkly beautiful).

    Nevertheless Mike it goes to show what state of alert countries like Israel need to be on since the daily life is one of threat from seemingly innocent visitors. We in our mostly safe UK environs cannot comprehend this level of anxiety (and look how we do react to the terror attacks we have experienced). The security staff will all have done military service, and will continue to be called up, so they have faced the kind of realities our softened customs officers have no idea of. Moreover these are Sabras – born in a tough land and named after the prickly pear plant – a thick skin that conceals a sweet, softer interior.!!

    I am going again in June – and really looking forward to it though this area is not on my list

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Laura, good to hear from you as always. Yes it was a bit of a shock (how unprepared I was) but it’s easy to see why they treat the matter with such a steely grip. But I did enjoy floating around in the brine and that stark environment. I suppose one solution could be to visit the Jordanian side again which I did in 2007. A quite different vibe.

      Liked by 1 person

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