It’s been almost a year now since we visited Israel & The Palestinian Territories and I’m still struggling to get through my blogs on it. Mainly because this was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to and I feel I’ll struggle to do it justice.
But press-on I shall. Plus, it’ll keep Jimmy off my back for a few weeks and as it’s his birthday today, why send a card when instead I can give him a shout out on a blog that features distinguished readers in Uganda, Colombia and Armenia?
I recently spoke with a colleague who is planning a trip soon who asked me what I got up to in my ten days here. The short answer is an absolute shed-load, and I think I’m still trying to take it in ten months later.
There is a great deal of snobbery around with travel, whereby anytime someone asks on a forum how they should spend their seven days in X, they are immediately shot down by people saying that they are wasting their time and need to spend three to four months there to truly appreciate it.
That’s all well and good; however whilst travelling around last year I came to a startling conclusion: travel = money. Sadly, my Ecuadorian fan-base is not yet growing to the extent that I can pump this page full of sponsored ads and jolly off around the world for free, so around a year ago, I had to get a proper job and use whatever time off that afforded to travel.
That proved to only be ten days, so off we went, in and out of Tel Aviv from our new home in London. Here’s how we spent it.
Jerusalem (4 Nights)
I managed to pen a brief write up on our time in Jerusalem, which was truly an amazing and unique city. The Old City itself can fill a few nights but we also used this as a base to go on two great day trips:
- Ein Gedi, Masada & Dead Sea tour. This popular tour ran by Abraham’s involved a 3am start to head South and climb Mount Masada (sidebar: not sure if it’s a mountain, may well of been simply a large hill), which is a really interesting National Park filled with Ancient Ruins dating back to the days of Herod. As with most things going back that far, there’s a pretty gruesome story involved featuring mass suicide that I won’t go into here.
There was also time to visit the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, before relaxing at the end of the day with a dip in the famous Dead Sea (not the most aesthetic of beaches as you’ll see below!)
- Hebron & Bethlehem tour. This tour is ran by Green Olive and let us spend the day in Palestine, to hear about things from a different point of view. As well as getting to eat lunch with a local Palestinian family, we also got to see Abraham’s tomb, the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and also visit a refugee camp (blog pending!)
Tel Aviv (2 Nights)
Tel Aviv is Israel’s hedonistic yang to Jerusalem’s spiritual yin. One can scarcely believe that they are in the same continent, let along so close together and reachable within an hour. Tel Aviv is a new, modern, and progressive city which was a perfect place for us to spend New Years Eve and relax after the intensity of Jerusalem. Great food and nightlife here as well – we spent New Years Eve eating ourselves silly at a wonderful restaurant before recovering on the beach the next day.
Nazareth (3 Nights)
I’d done so much research on Jerusalem & Tel Aviv and was initially on the fence about where to finish our trip, and I’m very glad that we chose Nazareth as that was something different again. Nazareth is more Muslim in it’s demographic so a slight shift in culture again, with us woken up by the morning calls to prayer – it felt very middle eastern.
The highlight of the three nights in Nazareth was another tour – this one up to Capernaum to visit the Sea of Galilee, the place where Jesus walked on water and called some of his disciples -the fishermen James and John. This area also featured the church of loaves and fishes, where Jesus famously turned a bit of bread and a drop of vino into a decent sized feast.
There was also time on this trip to visit a winery in the Golan heights, which is officially a Syrian territory and located right on the border. From the top of Mount Bental the views are said to stretch over the border into Damascus; but alas we picked a rubbish day to go where visibility was all of about 10 feet!
There are many reasons that I loved Israel so much, but one of them is that the history here just blows everywhere else out of the water. Regardless of ones religious leanings, there is so many places that everyone has heard of, and it was a true privilege to see some of them first hand. Until next time!