Israel is a place very close to my heart. I first visited when i was 6 weeks old and have made countless visits with family, friends, school, and tour groups since then. It is a complex country to say the least - with a complicated history, a difficult political situation, and a melting pot of people from different religions and backgrounds. Now, i am not here to get into a political discussion or even state my viewpoint on Israel. The point of my post is simply to show a side to Israel many of you may not have seen before...For most people who haven't ever been there i assume their image of Israel is largely based on news reports etc. It's easy from this perspective to view Israel as a volatile battlefield of some sorts where there is always some kind of unrest. But there is so much beauty in this country and this is what i want to share with you all now...
The Israel i have experienced and know is a beautiful and diverse place. The north - the Golan and Galilee are lush and green. I have completed several beautiful hikes through the rolling hills and waterfalls, climbed mountains to watch the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee, picked fruit, camped in forests (where i slept next to a cow), among so many other wonderful experiences.
Then there is the ever changing metropolis of Tel Aviv - i cannot describe how vibrant this city is - at every street corner you find more gorgeous bars, restaurants, clubs, an amazing seaside - you can never be bored - and every place you find is quirky and original in its own way. The weather is generally warm and the streets are filled day and night with people sitting outside sipping, eating, laughing. The extent of gastronomic delights in this city are endless - probably some of the best sushi, meat, and humous ive ever had (see the third picture below for the best humous in Jaffa - a great place called Abu Hassan!). To sum up this city is thriving and i challenge you not to have a good time there!
Jerusalem - the capital city; I personally find Jerusalem enchanting - firstly much of the city is built with white Jerusalem stone making it so unique looking. As well as increasingly beautiful places to go out my favorite place is the old city - religious sites, cobbled streets, old buildings, breathtaking artwork, amazingggg markets where you can haggle anything down i just love all of it! Some of the most beautiful religious experiences i've had have been in this city and there will always be a place in my heart for Jerusalem!
Further South there are places like the dead sea - the lowest point on earth - you can float around (the sea is so salty you always stay afloat) and beautify yourself with mud which you literally just take off the ground around the sea.
Even further South - the Negev is mostly desert and is blessedly peaceful and beautiful - i have never seen so many stars in the night sky it looked like a Disney movie.
So this is just a little snippet of my Israel - there is so much more to discover! I just want people to remember Israel is also a regular country with regular people going on with there regular lives - and i hate to see all the beautiful things Israel has to offer submerged in their political situation.
Photos are Copyrighted 2010