I want to take you all back to the time I went to Israel. I’m betting many of you will have mixed reactions to that – or maybe not.
If you’re like how I was, you’d think ‘But it’s a war zone! If you go to Israel you’re going to be shot or something!’ I know, I was naive and stupid. We are so socialised from the media into believing it’s a war zone and terrible acts of terror happen constantly in Israel.
However, believe me when I say this: Israel is an amazing country that if you get the chance, you must travel to. You don’t even think about the war going on whilst you’re there. You’re too busy soaking up the culture and fun and relaxed Israeli atmosphere. If you do happen to make the journey (which you should as I’ve said), here are some must-dos in the beautiful country of Israel.
One thing that I highly recommend doing in Jerusalem is visiting Yad Veshem. It’s a Holocaust museum and for those who have never experience one (a museum, not the Holocaust) it’s a definite must.
The stories, the pictures, the artifacts – it brings to life the tragedy and sorrow of the extermination of 6 000 000 Jews. It’s quite possible you’ll come out of there not ever feeling the same.
Now, the Shuk in Jerusalem is personally one of the best markets I’ve ever been to. There is no greater assault of the senses – the spices and sweets that imbed themselves in your nose, the voices of the shop owners ‘Eh, come madame, beautiful jewellery inside’, the rainbowic colours of bangels, clothing, scarves, woven rugs, the heat, humidity and bodies clashing against each other as people hurriedly scuttle in each direction.
It’s such a well-known yet still foreign experience and feeling that leaves you desiring to spend hours longer wandering the streets. It leaves you craving more of, whatever it is, that makes the Shuk so inexplicably rousing.
The Western Wall
Follow the Shuk’s path a little further down and you reach one of the holiest places in Jersualem – Hakotel or the Western Wall. It’s a piece of wall that remains erect after the destruction of the Temple. It’s famous for its spirituality and holiness, people travelling far and wide to touch it, kiss it and slip a prayer inside the tiny cracks of the walls. The Wall is bursting with prayers and notes, many which have fallen to the floor. Even for a non-Jewish person, it would be quite a moving experience.
Jerusalem was definitely my favourite city– the ancient, almost derelict buildings are simply exquisite and you really feel like you’re standing in the middle of truly enchanting history – perhaps even more so than Europe (big call, I know!) Either way – if you travel to Israel, visiting Jerusalem is essential.
Another great market place is in Old Tel Aviv, also known as Yafo. The shuk was bursting with antique finds, rustic furniture and colourful tapestry, whilst also offering gorgeous (but fake, obviously) jewellery. Every corner was a shop selling different antique items and if you happen to go there, you’ll be sure to snatch a new find in every place. It’s just amazing. To be honest, there’s a lot of junk but as they say, one’s junk is another’s treasure or beneath a pile of junk one will find treasure. Sayings along those lines most definitely apply here!
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea – one of tourists’ most popular and beloved places to visit in Israel. For those who don’t know why the Dead Sea is so incredible – google it, please? However I will simplify: it’s a beach where you can lie in the water and read a book. No, I’m not joking.
The water is so salty – you float. Don’t even ask me about the chemistry or whatever scientific avenue this particular phenomena comes under – I don’t know how it does, but it does. And it’s fun. Lots of fun. What’s not fun is getting the salty water splashed in your eyes as you try to stand up right yet your buoyant body forces you onto your stomach. That’s not fun. It hurts like a mother- hen…
I also got my first tan here. Well, mud tan. Still! Lathering your body in mud not only leaves it silky smooth but is just one of the weirdest and greatest sensations. A must. Except you’ll stink for days after!
And the encompassing scenery is just incredible. I wish I could have taken a literal memory photograph or at least a clear panoramic shot of the mountains that surround the Dead Sea. They span tall and wide as far as the human eye can see – tanned colour and dusty – tirelessly protective, holding such an incredible natural beauty you can’t help but feel a kind of happiness inside you.
So all you wanderlust travellers, next time you’re pondering where to explore, think about Israel. Please?