This is part of our Travel Diary series where our travelers write about their experiences abroad and share it with our readers.
Thank you very much Stacey, for sharing and allowing us to share with all of our readers!
Click here to read Part I - Thoughts of a Traveler: Settling in to Tel Aviv
Shalom from Israel—we are now reaching the end of our second week, and just came back from spending several days in the North, including along the Syrian and Lebanese borders. Israel has so much more going for it than its complex geo-political situation though; one could easily come to Israel for a month and focus on any of the following pursuits:
Israel has among the most significant archaeological sites in the world, many of which are UNESCO Heritage Sites. Israel supervises about 300 annual excavations. We visited one of these sites last week–Bet She’an, an ancient city in the northern Jordan Valley dating from the 5th century BCE.
You could literally eat your way through Israel. It is a major foodie paradise largely because of Israeli creativity, the mélange of middle eastern cuisines (Arab, Persian, Iraqi, Moroccan, and Yemeni), and strikingly fresh produce.
The “street food” alone is amazing, and we find ourselves having far too many choices and not enough days! U.S. gourmet magazines have ranked Tel Aviv-Jaffa among the world’s most serious culinary destination. In TA alone, there are 4,536 eateries and three enormous fresh food markets.
Israel is a hikers’ paradise with 5,500 miles of marked trails. We did hikes this week at the Agamon Hula Nature Reserve (stopover point for 20,000 cranes migrating to North Africa) and Banias Nature Reserve, both of which were well-marked, clean, and replete with interesting tidbits about what we were seeing.
Israel is undergoing a biking renaissance, which has led to thousands of trails being marked across the country from the Negev to Galilee in the north. In TA, biking has become a popular means of getting around the city with a fairly functional bike rental scheme called Tel-O-Fun. I say “fairly functioning” because Ira and I have had some amusing struggles trying to use the system!
Approximately, 3.5 million tourists come to Israel each year (2014 being an aberration), many of whom come as part of a religious pilgrimage. Many sites are pilgrimage destinations for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Bahá’ís.
Israel has a Gospel Trail which incorporates over 60 kilometers of specially sign-posted footpaths and roads so that visitors can experience the biblical landscapes and sites in which Jesus and the early Christians lived. Ira and I stayed in Tiberias at The Scots’ Hotel, which is owned and managed by the Church of Scotland, based on its earlier use as a “mission” hospital set up by a Scottish surgeon in 1894.
We are heading South next week to the Negev and Jordan.
Sending you much love.