Israel is a place we all have heard since an early age for one thing or another, however, I never really thought about going and yet, thanks to a business trip opportunity, here we are! Once the dates were set, we started the research and planning of the must-visit places to get an idea of what to expect. With a short four-day visit and a long list of sites we wanted to check, we had to plan very well to make the most out of it. I have to say I was really impressed with this trip, had many unique experiences and yet, I feel we missed so many others.
The state of Israel is a country in Western Asia (Yay! our first time in Asia!). It has borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Egypt. Plus a coastline that extends 187 kilometers (116 mi) along the Mediterranean Sea.
Jerusalem, the capital city, is the biblical Holy Land for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Israel is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Masada, the Dome of the Rock shrine, the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dead Sea, along with other unique natural and cultural sites plus world-class cuisine.
In this post, you will join us through our adventure through Tel Aviv, plus food and some general topics. Another post will follow about our visit to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. And one last post with an imposing destination in Israel: the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Masada, plus the Ein Gedi natural reserve in the Judaean Desert. Stay tuned!
After a five hour flight from Amsterdam, we arrived in Tel Aviv at the Ben Gurion Airport (which by the way, was named after the founder of the State of Israel: David Ben Gurion). Went to the hotel, dropped the bags, rested for a little while and got ready to start exploring!
First stop, the beaches. Since our hotel was near the beach we headed straight there for a pleasant walk along the promenade with its palm trees, laid back beach bars, gym stations, numerous bicycle, and scooter rentals, people practicing yoga, playing Matkot (similar beach tennis), or just relaxing waiting for the sunset.
Another obligatory stop is the Old Jaffa which is the oldest district in Israel. Is a bustling area full of restaurants, cafes, bars, shisha bars, street stands, antique boutiques, and art galleries. It’s lovely to wander around at day or night, going up and down its streets and stairs while exploring the beautiful architecture, colors, and facades characteristic of the region. It is nearby the Old Jaffa Port which allows a beautiful view of the skyline of Tel Aviv.
Moving around Tel Aviv is easy. We mostly walked from one place to another. We also rented some electric scooters, which are very popular in the city and super cool to ride.
While moving from one of the famous districts to another, you have to go through the not so popular neighborhoods. Strolling within its small alleys, some shady, smelly streets with buildings about to fall down and full of graffiti, then morphing into some other modern and trendy districts.
Speaking of architecture, you see a little bit everything, from modern skyscrapers to crumbling buildings, to well preserved baroque and medieval architecture. They are also known as the White City because they have the mayor concentration of buildings in Bauhaus style worldwide.
Eating Israel out!
Mediterranean cuisine and Middle East cuisine are famous for many world-class dishes, including hummus, falafel, olives, bread, spices, and seafood. They also do a variety of sweets, nuts, and pomegranates!
Random fact about Israel and pomegranates. This fruit is considered a symbol of righteousness. They’re said to have exactly “613 seeds”. According to the Jewish faith, they would correspond to the 613 commandments of the Torah. Hence, you see pomegranates everywhere, even porcelain models for you to take home as a souvenir! So we were not going to miss the opportunity to treat ourselves with some freshly squeezed juice of this superfood!
The polemic immigration stamp. Simple, they DO NOT stamp your passport. You get an immigration entry and exit card. They ceased stamping passports because there are some countries that don’t have “relationships” with Israel and won’t let you enter their territory if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport, even if that means leaving you out of your own country! Check for updated information because international relationships with Israel are constantly changing.
Safety. Well yes, I had thoughts about this topic before the trip, not precisely for the surroundings but more concerned about the international conflicts that this country is continuously threatened by. However, while walking around the city you feel a very relaxed vibe, even in those shady areas where there is no light in the streets, you still see people walking at late hours even with their kids.
Voltage and plug types. In Israel, the standard is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. There are three accepted plug types: C, H, and M. If the voltage in your country is between 220 – 240 V you are on the safe side.
To sum up this first part of the trip around the city of Tel Aviv I have to say that I’ve absolutely enjoyed its vibe. In general, people look pretty fit and enjoying life. It’s super agreeable to walk on the beach promenade to the lovely old Jaffa with its characteristic architecture and nature, and the sunsets are stunning. Tel Aviv, Recommended!
Next: Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.