As May is Jewish American Heritage Month, we’re shedding some light on the incredible history of Israel. This can be an eye-opening lesson any day of the week — especially with the kids cooped up at home, running low on history and geography lesson plans.
Any future world traveler or self-proclaimed wanderer will be intrigued to know some of the lesser-known facts about Israel’s most-visited landmarks. If the Dead Sea and Negev Desert are on your list of must-sees when travel resumes, here are a few fun facts to take with you:
The Dead Sea
While many already know the Dead Sea is considered a natural wonder beloved for its medicinal properties, not many know it’s actually located within a natural wonder. The Dead Sea sits at the deepest point of the Great Rift Valley, the world’s longest geographical phenomenon, covering more than 4,000 miles, crossing 20 countries. Formed from a rift in the Earth’s crust, the Dead Sea is believed to be more than 3 million years old.
The Dead Sea may be 10 times saltier than sea water, but it’s not the most salt-concentrated body of water in the world — that title goes to Gaet’ale Pond in Ethiopia and Don Juan Pond in Antarctica, alternating between first and second place for highest salinity for decades.
Considered a wellness wonder for centuries, Cleopatra was a big fan and early adopter — some of the world’s first spas were built around the Dead Sea.
Despite the sea’s incredible density, making it especially difficult to break through the surface and sink below, you can dive in the Dead Sea. Don’t expect to see any marine life, but seriously skilled divers will be blown away by the geological formations below.
The Negev Desert
Israel’s Negev Desert and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula are the only places in the world where the geological phenomena (erosion cirque) exist, known as the Makhtesh Ramon, or Ramon Crater.
The Negev Desert is home to Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of last remaining strongholds from the First Jewish-Roman War. The historic fortress sits alone on the rock plateau and is known as the site of a mass suicide by the Jewish people who refused to surrender. Before the Jewish rebellion, the fortress dates back to the time of King Herod (30 BCE).
While perched atop a hill, Masada is actually below sea level, as the region near the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth. The surrounding area boasts incredible acoustics, actually known as an echo balcony, and hosts world-class musicians and orchestras, including performances by Andrea Bocelli. It’s said if you shout into the desert from the balcony, you will hear it come back to you as a crowd response. Historians believe this could have been used as a battle trick by the rebels to make their numbers sound far greater and (hopefully) ward off enemies.
While urban wine country might sound like an oxymoron, it’s actually a reality at the stunning City Vineyard in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. The water-side venue is the perfect host for your next event — whatever that may be, from 20 to 200 guests and from cocktail party to plated dinner.
Traveling with young children and, dare we say, toddlers, can often mean packing everything but the kitchen sink. You’ll need all the essentials, from food, clothing and baby hygiene products to travel gear and just-in-case accessories for every scenario under the sun. Sounds like a lot because it is, but companies like Totts can cut out a significant part of the packing process by shipping all the consumables you need for your trip, like wipes, diapers, body wash, detergent, hand sanitizer and more, to your destination. Travel a little lighter and have all the what-if necessities waiting for you at your Airbnb, hotel or campsite.
There are a lot of creatures rumored to be walking this earth, but no one knows for sure if they are real or mythical. One of these creatures is Bigfoot; you hear about it in stories, see it portrayed in movies and even hear people report sightings from all over the United States. There is no way it can travel throughout the United States, so could that mean there are multiple Bigfoots and they are just extremely good at hiding?
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
Cruising seems tailored for families. With great deals (and there are a lot right now), endless entertainment and great shore excursions catered to children, it seems like you can't go wrong, but not all cruises are created equal. Choosing a line specially designed to accommodate families with children is crucial when planning a family vacation and Norwegian Cruise Line makes your decision easy.