Bubbly on menu for breakfast
“Have some champagne,” bubbled Dorothy as she raised her glass to me. “What?” I asked incredulously. “Champagne for breakfast? Here? You must be joking!”
But Dorothy wasn’t joking. Indeed there was deliciously cold, tasty champagne every morning for breakfast – alongside a feast of other foods - at the Spa Hotel at the Dead Sea. And if the bottle was finished, word spread like wildfire and there was another and yet another new bottle to replace it.
Champagne was one of the many wonderful perks we enjoyed on our four-day ESRA trip in mid-January. Our group from Modiin, 20% of the participants, was picked up en route at the entrance to our city and dropped off again on our return. The price was right, even cheap, the company delightful, the sites fascinating and the R&R – just plainly luxurious!
On the way down we visited Masada. Our guide, Adina, did not overburden us with facts, but waffled on enough to keep us intrigued. The museum, completed a few years ago, was fascinating and highly recommended. Arriving at our hotel mid-afternoon, we were efficiently dispatched to our rooms with the invitation to use the spa facilities as we much as we wished. We unpacked, changed and were in the spa in a flash and how gooood that felt! The muscles started to unwind and the body soon assumed relaxation mode as we soaked in the warm, therapeutic waters.
The meals were plentiful and tasty, with a large selection, although (and perhaps this was a reflection of our location) some of the dishes were liberally salted. Waiters hovered around to respond to our every wish, and there was a lovely hum of chatter and clinking of glasses as the meals ensued. In keeping with the holiday atmosphere, the hotel generously offered breakfasts from 7am until noon, another plus in their favor.
Traveling companions . . . Cynthia (center) with Pearl Goldberg (left) and Carol Lipman
Our days comprised of major R&R, with early morning tai chi at the beach or meditation outdoors, lounging in the glorious sunshine at the outdoor pool (where only one enthusiast was nutty enough to brave the very cold water), traipsing to the nearby shops, strolling along the shores, bathing in the salty pool or simply having another shloff because, what the heck, we were on vacation. Every evening entertainment was provided, and to my utter relief, not loud, garish music that is usually the fare of such hotels. On the contrary, one gentleman had us singing along with lovely golden oldies while we played scrabble, bananagrams, rummy or bridge.
Our multi-stop return journey was no less enjoyable. We visited Qumran, the Painted House, Mitzpe Yericho with its breathtaking view of the Judean Desert, and, finally, the 9/11 monument in Jerusalem. Darkness was settling in as we entered Modiin, said our goodbyes and headed home.
The trip can best be summed up as Dorothy wrote us that evening: “I just went into my kitchen for some tea - what a bummer! I have to boil the water myself, scrounge around for a cup, look through my box of tea BAGS, then find some plain ordinary sugar or plain ordinary honey. I have no fresh mint on hand and, if I want lemon, I need to slice it myself. I guess our vacation is over!”
Kudos to Judy Copeland in the Raanana office, and to Val Kantor, our lady of the tour, who kept everything and everyone organized - not an easy task.
Thank you ESRA for a great vacation! We look forward to joining you on many more.