It is amazing how much you can do in one day when you have a car!
The first site we visited was the 6th Century Monastery en route to Jericho, which we were unable to enter last time we passed this beautiful site, as we were inappropriately dressed. This time however, the ladies were equipped with long skirts and and long sleeves, and the gentlement wore long pants.
The Greek Orthodox monastery mostly reminded me of a boutique hotel: aesthetic integrity (simple, minimalist style), seamless merging with the surroundings (chapel and hermit living quarters built into the rock), athmosphere (an oasis in the desert) and refreshments on arrival.
We couldn't take any photos inside, but I did manage to take a snap of a new monk arriving and being driven to his lodgings on a tractor! Hopefully his new residence is not the one that requires a hanging basket for food supply.
Following our brief visit, we dropped by what is allegedly the Tomb of Moses, and was once considered the most important pilgrimage in Palestine. I'm not convinced by this allegation as the site does not seem to be taken over by Israelis (they take over pretty much any site for which they claim historical or mythical significance), and it felt more like a quaint outpost of some sort. It is more likely that Moses passed through the site at some point. Could it possibly be a site for a new boutique hotel?
Next up our road-trip took a slightly different turn, when we visited an industrial area in Jericho, the "Jericho Agro Industrial Park", which aims to promote the development of a sustainable Palestinian economy. About 3 years into the completion of "Phase 1", the park definitely doesn't seem to be a bustling centre for commerce and trade!
Back to the more divine aspects of our trip... Mount Temptation, the site where Jesus fasted for 40 days and where he was also tempted by the devil. However, the telepherique to the mount was closed for lunch so we popped by the oldest settlement in the world while we waited.
We finally made it to the Mount, a stunning monastery, but apparently unpopulor with the Greek Orthodox monks: there were only two on-site. The monk we spoke to was a holiday replacement for another monk, and he was clearly not happy to be there. When researching Greek Orthodoxy, I came across an interesting picture on wikipedia, which helps me a lot to understand the main religions (Greek Orthodox is part of the Eastern Orthodoxy)
The Temptation Mount definitely has potential as a boutique hotel as well: every room has an amazing view of Jericho, the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea.
And with the Dead Sea not far away, visitors can take advantage of the mineral rich mud. European visitors should be especially pleased: they are less likely to get sun-burned without sunscreen, as the air in more dense below sea level.