Israel. An apparently unsafe country that is full of danger and war.
Tel Aviv. A city that is bustling all day and night, summer and winter.
It has been a few weeks since my time in Tel Aviv but the magic of this land needs to be shared.
Upon first arrival, Tel Aviv appeared like any other middle eastern nation with its dusty buildings and words written in a language that made no sense to me.
The drive through Tel Aviv displayed a different world. Modern buildings hidden throughout the city while the alternative food and people erupted the area. The beach reminded me of a paradise place. Cute restaurants every few hundred meters, free exercise equipment for those interested (not for me) and comfortable sun lounges for all. We found a restaurant on the beach and watched the sun as it set.
Our only full day was spent on a tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
We woke up at 6:30 to prepare for the big day ahead before meeting our bus driver soon after in the hotel lobby.
Our smiley Israeli tour guide seemed too excited and energetic at 7 in the morning, especially before having any coffee. He noticed that no one was very alive and took us to the Elvis Cafe.
Did she just say ‘Elvis Cafe’ as in the King of Rock?
There is an Elvis Cafe on the way out of Tel Aviv which us adorned with pictures, posters, records and music as well as an Elvis mug to take with you as a souvenir.
After that confusion, we arrived in Bethlehem. The Holy Land. The old city is divided into parts for the religions to live harmoniously and within their borders.
Our first stop was the Wailing Wall (Western Wall) in the Jewish quarter. It was a serene experience to see people from all over the world come to one place to connect with their beliefs.
Next stop was the Muslim quarter where we were greeted by Turkish coffee and freshly squeezed juices. The smells and colours were outstanding as they were individual and combined all at once.
Last stop was the Church in the Christian quarter. The tomb of Jesus Christ was inside. There was a church where the holy light comes out without the aid of man on Easter Eve. Miracles really do happen!
It was beautiful and rare to see all these religions living peacefully.
Lunchtime came around and food was waiting for us in Bethlehem, Palestine. So many flavours and textures in a large array of buffet foods.
We said bye to our Israeli tour guide and welcomed our wise Palestinian tour guide. She took us to the Church of Nativity in Manger Square.
She explained the different perspectives of the Christian beliefs of the birth of Christ as we roamed through each section; Catholic to Armenian to Orthodox.
The day ended with a sad goodbye to both of our tour guides and a good night’s sleep to allow us to consolidate all of the memories and new information that we learnt throughout the day.
Israel is a country to visit whether you like food, history or fun. It has everything. I hope to hear of your stories in Israel.