If it’s possible to be two things at once, as a traveler, I am both 1) lazy and 2) cheap. Nowhere is this more of a contradiction than when I’m contemplating how to get over to Masada. On the one hand, I can take the cableway, which is something like $12 RT. OR, I can walk up the annoyingly steep, undoubtedly exhausting trail, which takes 45 minutes to an hour, and costs nothing. What do you think I do? Yep, I walk up the darn hill, in the midday Israeli heat, to save a few shekels. By the time I reach top of the hill, I’m tired, sore, sweaty, and wondering if this has been a good idea. It’s certainly not the ideal way to visit one of the country’s most-famous historical landmarks. But like I said I’m cheap, along with many other things.

Whatever path you take to Masada, it’s ultimately worth the expense or the effort. It’s a brilliant site – an area of well-preserved ruins at the top of a rocky bluff, looking out on the vast Judaean desert and the Dead Sea. Masada, of course, is famous for the Roman siege, which happened in 73-74 CE at the end of First Jewish-Roman War, and resulted in the likely mass suicide of nearly a thousand rebels. Whether the latter part is true or not is much debated by scholars, but when standing atop the ruins, you can certainly imagine what it must be like to be trapped on at the dead end of a mesa with the world’s greatest army breathing down your neck. None of the choices are good: be captured and crucified, or jump off the cliffs and meet a fast but certain death. It certainly makes my own choice earlier, about how to get to the ruins, pale in comparison.

The ruins, themselves, are interesting but not sensational: essentially a series of bare, rocky trenches — what do you want for 2,000+ years? In my mind, it’s the location and the story that bring the Masada to life. What would I do in the rebels’ situation: jump or submit? If only a cableway was available back then!

(We’re all faced by ever-present choices, aren’t we? Spend or jump? Lie or tell the truth? Persevere or give up? How do you make your choices? Logic and reasoning have their place, but in the end, your gut always knows what to do. So tune into your instinct and you’ll find the right trail.)