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I floated in the Dead Sea! Mud masks, Masada fortress & modern Mamilla hotel Jerusalem.

marc jacob dot, big retro sunglasses

What’s your “happy place”? For me, it’s a combination of gentle sun, friends, travel, exploring cultures, the ocean, and my Scottish Fold cat. I got all of the above (minus the kitty, and with a salt lake instead) on one of my most memorable days in Israel.

Read on for my floaty, muddy adventure in the Dead Sea… (And apologies for the lack of posts over Memorial Day weekend – I’ve been in San Francisco with my friends. Tons of new material coming up; you can see previews of Bianca Del Rio at Trannyshack, oddities at Loved to Death and more on my @lacarmina Instagram.)

mamilla hotel jerusalem interior

My film team and I woke up early at the Mamilla Hotel, a 5-star modern hotel on King Solomon Street. It’s the work of Israeli-born architect Moshe Safdie (who did the Vancouver Downtown Library) and designer Piero Lissoni.

jaffa mamilla hotel, moshe safdie architect

Mamilla is a perfect blend of new and old: witness Jerusalem stone walls next to a sculpted metal staircase. I wish we had time to experience their Akasha Wellbeing Center, celebrated for its organic bar and holistic classes.

mamilla spa, blue lit portrait

I personally love stark, modern hotels. They tend to be ultra-clean with inspiring design, and have fast and free Wi-Fi. (Ideal for germophobic, design-freak, plugged-in millennial travelers like me.)

Photography by Eric Bergemann, Melissa Rundle and La Carmina.

jerusalem stone numbers, mamilla wall

The Mamilla hotel’s facade was built from historic Jerusalem stone (similar to sandstone). Each one was numbered, to mark its proper place in the arch.

Today I’m wearing a lion t-shirt and blue sandals from Izzue Hong Kong, a black and white skirt from Algonquins Tokyo, and sunglasses by Marc Jacobs Dot.

balcony view of jerusalem old city

The rooftop gave us a magnificent view of Jerusalem’s Old City walls, the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate.

rooftop, luxury jerusalem hotel

Perfect for a panorama shot. (My two filmmakers travel with me, and shoot the videos and photos. So far, we’ve been sent to the Maldives, Abu Dhabi, Mazatlan, Maui, Dubai, Portland, around Eastern Europe, and more!)

israel desert sand dunes

Time to hit the road. Our trusty driver and Israel guide, Uri Golani, took us for an hour and a half ride to Masada. Along the way, the sand scenery was straight out of Frank Herbert’s Dune (a must-read sci fi novel).

masada black line on walls

We took a short cable car ride up to Masada, the isolated mountain fortress built by Herod the Great around 37-31 BC. This is the site of the famous siege, where Jewish rebels fought back the attacking Romans after Jerusalem fell. Finally overtaken, the 960 Masada Jews supposedly committed mass suicide.

masada view of dead sea

The rock plateau overlooks the Dead Sea, which we’ll visit after. Up the cliffs, ingenious water cisterns divert water from nearby wadis (ravines), which allowed the rebels to store as much as 10 million gallons of water.

jewish fortress masada

See this black line? It shows the height of the walls before they were reconstructed, since much of Masada was in ruins when it was re-discovered in 1828.

masada ancient wall

We ducked into the bath houses, which still had remnants of mosaics and painted wall plasters.

Herod the Great fortress, palace israel

Imagining the homes, synagogue and store rooms that stood here ages ago.

israel black bird, Tristram's Starling

We saw a number of these noisy birds. I found out they are Tristram’s Starling, a bird native to this region. The males have orange marks on their wings.

masada tour, cable car

I remember reading about Masada years ago, but history lessons often don’t sink in until you’re actually on the ground where they took place. I think it’s important to see both the old and new sides of a destination, to better understand it.

israel flag in wind, star david

Alas, the wind is beckoning us to the water. We took a short drive to the Dead Sea, one of the world’s saltiest lakes. No living creatures can thrive in the waters, hence the very Gothic name.

dead sea beach girl

Bathers can grab handfuls of mud from a bucket, to cover their faces and bodies. Dead Sea mud is full of minerals and known for its therapeutic properties.

dead sea mud on body, skin

Why not engage in some Gothic body-painting at the same time? I drew monster scars, crosses, and a Star of David on myself. Tip: wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, as they’ll inevitably pick up some sand and mud.

dead sea mineral mud mask

The Ein Gedi public beach also has change rooms, and a sulphur-water pool.

Stand up paddle surfing israel

I saw some people doing standing-board paddling. Make sure you don’t put your head under water or try to swim, unless you want your eyes to burn!

girl floating in dead sea water

Slowly sit back, and you’ll float. Such a strange feeling. Watch out for the sharp salt formations on the floor, though… they cut my butt!

dead sea bathers, swimmers

What a blessing, to be able to experience the Dead Sea. Thank you to Israel Tourism for the experience.

mamilla hotel modern design, breakfast

I leave you with my protein-and-veg packed breakfast at the Mamilla Hotel (including shakshuka, eggs poached with tomatoes). What is your happy place?

SHARE & COMMENT

46 Comments

  1. Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    Your hair is too cute! :)
    Xx
    Rhea
    http://www.fuss.co.in

  2. Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Amazing hair and photos

  3. Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Stunning! Always wanted to go there

  4. Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Your pics are amazing, plus you fullfilled my daughter’s wish to “swim” in the Dead Sea. #PureInspiration

    • Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      that’s fantastic!

  5. Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Yessss I love it!

  6. Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Floating in the Dead Sea is an experience. Being on top of Masada is a revelation. Jerusalem is a dream come true. Love Israel.

  7. Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Nice.

  8. Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Been there done that!

  9. Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Love these photos

  10. Posted May 28, 2014 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    I didn’t know you couldnt swim inside the dead sea and that it wasn’t a sea! !! you learn something new all the time.

    thanks

  11. Posted May 28, 2014 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    I live in Tel Aviv!!!

  12. Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE U ISRAEL

  13. Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I did that!

  14. Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Nazareth, Israel !

  15. Posted May 28, 2014 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Great pics! thank you for sharing this with us! we hope you enjoyed your stay :)

    • Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      I did, thanks so much!

  16. Posted May 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Cute legs.

    • Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      haha! :) I walk a lotttt in various cities.

  17. Posted May 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Nice!

  18. Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    La Carminaちゃん、そろそろ忘年会の日程決めようか?

  19. Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    How was that

    • Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      It was Magnifico! :)

  20. Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    sugeeeee

    • Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      Such a great day! <3 Happy to share it with you.

  21. Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    that is awesome, but I wanted to go there with you guys(humor) I JEALOUS… fIND ME A ROCK PLEASE.

    • Posted May 28, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      hehe there were lots of rocks in Israel!

  22. Posted May 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Looking fantastic! X

  23. Posted May 30, 2014 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    ahhh cool ^^

  24. Posted May 30, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    My best trip ever

  25. Posted May 30, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    #isrAel is #highfashion!

  26. Posted May 30, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    WE LOVE GOING TO ISRAEL IT THE MOST WONDERFUL PLACE YOU CAN EVER GO

  27. Posted May 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Those sunglasses are fabulous!

  28. Posted May 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    me <3

  29. Posted May 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    :-)

  30. Posted June 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I love hotels, and I love beautiful hotel gardens and environments, especially those that reference the wonderful hotels and gardens of Provence and the Italian countryside: the fountains, the citrus trees in terra cotta planters, and the casual formality of the environments. I am always looking for ways to bring a bit of that magic into my own garden. Well, I recently found an incredible store and online presence: Authentic Provence (http://authenticprovence.com) in West Palm Beach. The finest collection of European garden antiques I have seen in the US: statues, fountains, planters (note especially the classic Caisse de Versailles in every color, and Anduze pottery), terra cotta shields, stone animals, copper pots, garden spouts, etc. They also have beautiful stone fireplaces, re-purposed tiles, and many other specialty items. I felt transported to a unique environment reminiscent of the wonderful hotels and gardens of Europe.

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