Believe it or not, I did do things besides eat while I was in Israel (but mostly I ate). This trip was a very different experience from my Birthright-Taglit experience of five and a half years ago–much more relaxing, much more low key, and more information-absorby since now I am old and mature etc etc. Here are some of the highlights, including a lot of less-common sites:
This was the view from our hotel room in Tel Aviv, one I did not get the least bit sick of in the week we were there. My previous trip to Israel was in the winter and we only spent about 5 hours in Tel Aviv, so it felt like being somewhere I had never been at all before. We made it to the beach almost every day we were in the city. It’s really the only thing NYC is missing.
Every Tuesday and Friday the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv features block after block of handmade jewelry, Judaica and crafts. I got myself some great jewelry, and while I didn’t buy this sculpture, it was one of my favorite items at the shouk.
Even though Tel Aviv is not a religious city, not much is open on Saturdays, so we went to the museum. They had all these great quotes (mostly in English) covering the atrium.
My mom and I spent Mother’s Day in Haifa, which has some really beautiful and spectacular views. We also got spectacularly lost multiple times. (Also, Israel water made my hair spectacularly curly. Can I import it?) Here we are at the top of the famous Baha’i Gardens…
And here we are at the bottom, one of the only three places we were allowed to go. We didn’t learn until we got to Haifa around 1pm that there’s only one tour a day of the full gardens, and that it leaves at noon. What we saw was still quite beautiful, but we started reading the guidebook a lot more carefully after that.
I’d talk about finding out way to the train station when we left, but I’ll just get PTFD (Post Traumatic Frustration Disorder), so let’s just leave it at that pretty photo.
This is what the sunset is like over the Mediterranean, and the view from our hotel lobby, where they gave out bowls of pretzels and had free chocolate. Zen.
Tel Aviv is a relatively modern city, but Jaffa at its southern tip is so old that I am 95 percent sure it’s mentioned in the bible. I love wandering teeny old streets like this.
Obviously I had to include this obligatory shot. For those of you who have never been to the Dead Sea, this is what happens. It’s literally impossible not to float. The salinity of the regular ocean is something like 2 percent, while the Dead Sea is more than 30. It is for this reason that you should not rub Dead Sea mud on your face, because if you accidentally get the water in your eyes while rinsing it off you will be utterly miserable. Floating, however, is awesome.
Here is why hiring a private tour guide is totally, 100 percent worth it. This is the view from the top of the Austrian Hospice in the Arab Quarter of the old city in Jerusalem. We didn’t even know this existed, and it was so unassuming from the outside that even if we had we would have walked right past it. We stopped here for a snack before taking a tour of the tunnels under the Western Wall, which actually run along the full length of the wall and offer glimpses of an ancient mikvah (ritual bath) and aqueduct, everything at least 2,000 years old. I couldn’t stop touching the walls in amazement.
TL;DR version: I need to go back to Israel ASAP.