Posts Tagged With: Tel Aviv

An Israel Bucket List According to Me

Exactly one week from today, I will be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, headed to to the airport in Newark, New Jersey where my Daddy will be waiting to take me home to Delaware. (I wrote this on Friday night, but published Saturday morning.

Holy cow.

Yes, it has been 15 weeks since I arrived in the Holy Land, and now I’m down to the home stretch of papers and finals (well, two papers and one final, but still) and everyone’s favorites, goodbyes and packing. This weekend is going to be spent in good ol’ Haifa, with a nice group dinner tonight after a final trip to the shuk (market) today. It’s my last Shabbat in Israel and it feels like yesterday I was saying it was the first. But for my second-to-last blog post, I thought I’d give you all my “Top 10 Must-Do while in Israel” list, based exclusively on my opinion and the places I visited. It’s completely biased, but I hope you like it anyway and if you ever plan a trip here, make an effort to see a couple of the things on this list. Here they are (in no particular order).

1. JerusalemThere really isn’t anything like it in the world. Holy to three major world religions and centuries and centuries of history, you just can’t experience anything like anywhere else in the world. See the Western Wall and put your hopes and dreams and prayers on a paper and stick it in a crack with a million others like it. Wander the Old City and buy something from one of the gazillions of shops. Eat falafel on a rooftop, visit a museum (or a dozen) and make sure one of them is Yad Vashem. But above all in Jerusalem, just be there, in the moment, and feel the history all around you.

2. Tel Aviv And then there’s Tel Aviv. It’s a whole other animal compared to Jerusalem. Tel Aviv feels young and fresh where Jerusalem is learned and wise. Jerusalem is where you think about the past and Tel Aviv is where the only thing you think about is right now. Eat at the great restaurants, get a drink at the great bars, sun on the great beaches and enjoy.
3. Small city- When you’re done with the big cities, head to small one. We’ve visited a few here that I think are just adorable. They’re calm and quaint and have a tremendous amount of heart and character. Just spend a morning or an afternoon seeing what there is to see, because you never know what you may find.
4. West Bank This is a complicated place and I think it’s extremely important to get a well-rounded perspective. So go to the West Bank and meet the people and see the other side. It may seem intimidating, but once you’re there, it’s totally not, so go, go, go. You won’t regret it.
5. Tsefat This is a whole other ball game of religious identity in Israel and it was awesome. When you’re there, you can literally feel the faith radiating out of the walls and the hearts of the people. There’s color and art and history and religion and just about anything else from that sort of world you can imagine.
6. Dead Sea Weirdest feeling ever. You have to go in. You just have to. You’ll feel like a cork bobbing up and down and you’ll laugh and paddle around and maybe get covered with mud and take silly pictures and then you will always be able to say you swam in the Dead Sea.
7. Masada Is hauling your butt out of bed at 3:45 in the morning difficult? Yes. Is climbing over 5o stories worth of roughly-cut stone stairs one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life? Heck, yes. But is making it to the top of an ancient city and watching the sun rise over the mountains of Jordan totally worth it? A million times yes. So climb climb climb, don’t stop for nothing, and you’ll have a morning you’ll never forget.
8. Major holiday- I had my fair share of them here, from Purim to Passover and many more, but no matter what, try and experience one, whether it is Jewish or Israeli or a cultural hyrbid (Purim). It’s just really fun watching a good portion of the country celebrate.
9. Hike in the South Rough-cut red desert rocks and loose sand with scraggly brush sticking everywhere and wind cutting across the barren landscape? Yes please. Hike in southern Israel and you’ll really understand the whole “Wow it must have stunk to wander in the desert for 40 years” concept. But it’s a very interesting place to be and to see, especially if you’re from the eastern United States and it literally feels like Mars.
10. Hike in the North A whole other animal. Those eastern Americans I mentioned will probably feel more at home in this landscape, which is just beautiful. There are giant trees and flowing creeks and snow-capped mountains on the horizon and it’s a really really pleasant way to spend a few days.

So if you’re coming to Israel, take a gander at your itinerary and check if you’re stopping at these spots. If you’re not, think about it. This is such a diverse place and you should really try and experience every different square inch of it. Thanks for reading!

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Categories: Israeli life, Photos, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tel Aviv!!!!

It is impossible to say the name of the city “Tel Aviv” without adding exclamation points to it. My friend and roommate Emily says her dad says, “Tel Aviv? That’s the closest city to Israel!” And it’s true. It’s another world there, a little bit. There are restaurants and bars and cafes everywhere, and people in short shorts and bikini tops headed to the beach and lots of nightlife. It’s a fun fun place to be and it’s where I met up with my friends after I got off the plane from Switzerland for four days and five nights of sun and exploring.

Wednesday and Thursday were Memorial Day and Independence Day so on Wednesday night, we picnicked in the famous Rabin Square and watched a huge performance and fireworks show. It was packed and although we couldn’t fully understand what was going on in the show, we liked watching all the young people performing.

On Thursday, we wandered and wandered and wandered some more, eating a nice lunch at a cafe and spending some time lying on the rocks on the shore by a park where families were barbecuing and flying kites and the like, just like Fourth of July in the States. We stopped for a moment outside Independence Hall to take pictures.

On Friday, we went to an art festival near the shuk in Tel Aviv after breakfast right next to it at another cafe. Then that night, we rang in Shabbat with a picnic on the beach to watch the sun set over the Mediterranean.

Saturday was a delightful Shabbat. We kept asking ourselves, “Wait, we are in Israel, right?” because almost everything was open! We walked way up to the northern tip of the city where there is a huge park and a marina-type area. I took a nap under a big shady tree and then we found another art festival! Another night out to eat completed the day…here’s me in the park.

So the themes of the weekend were good food, good friends and lots of sunshine and walking. It wasn’t a go crazy weekend in Tel Aviv. We didn’t stay up all night, we didn’t drink ourselves into a stupor, we didn’t see a million art galleries or museums. We just wandered, enjoying the energy and life of the city, which really is unique. And it was totally great.

On Sunday, it was back to Haifa for the first time in 9 days for me and a general “gearing up” for the last month of the program. As you can see, I’m about two weeks behind on blogging, but hopefully this week I’ll get all caught up. As always, thanks for reading!

Categories: Friends, Photos, Travels | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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