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Travel in Israel: A Journey of Self-Discovery

Amid a sequence of letdowns, heartbreaks, and professional setbacks, I gradually regained my sense of identity. Empowered by this newfound self-awareness, I began my inaugural adventure of traveling alone. Israel was a transformative experience I will forever hold close to my heart. As I set foot in this ancient place with ~ 5,000 years of history, I knew I was embarking on a journey that would challenge, inspire, and ultimately lead me to rediscover aspects of myself I had long forgotten.


My Journey

Tel Aviv: I began my adventure in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, visiting my cousins (the best hosts)— where modernity and history intertwine. The bustling streets, eclectic neighborhoods, and beautiful beach along the Mediterranean Sea immediately drew me in. As I explored the city, I was struck by the spirit of innovation and creativity permeating every corner. It reminded me that growth and evolution are essential parts of life, and I felt a sense of hope and renewal in my aspirations.


I explored trendy neighborhoods like Rothschild, Neve Tzedek, Sarona, Sheinkin Street, and Florentin, each with a different creative and artistic flare filled with art galleries, charming courtyard restaurants and cafes, and shops. Strolling through Rothschild Streets, as a testament to architectural heritage, I learned about the collection of 4,000+ Bauhaus-style buildings (UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tel Aviv's White City), built by German-Jewish architects who emigrated from Europe in the 1930s.


Carmel Market is a bustling open-air market offering a sensory feast. The bright colors of fresh fruits and vegetables, the aromatic spices, and foods I had never seen or tasted, all coupled with the lively banter of merchants, created an atmosphere of excitement. I suggest you immerse yourself in the local culture, tasting flavorful foods, bargaining for unique souvenirs, and engaging in friendly conversations with the vendors and the customers you sit next to, which makes for great convos! Tel Aviv is a place of contrasts, where tradition coexists with progressive ideas. The city has the beauty of diversity, the power of resilience, and boundless creativity that thrives within its borders.

Restaurant Recommendations: Benny Drexel in Carmel Market (see him dancing and saying 'hi') Beit Romano, Port Said, HOC (House of Coffee), Hotel Montefior, Anita yogurt.. I highly recommended them all!


Old Jaffa: "Welcome to Old Jaffa" in three different languages (Hebrew, Arabic, English) reads the sign as you enter its walls, immediately transporting you to another century. We walked through the narrow cobblestone roads, seeing how time stood still from centuries ago. When an older couple stopped us to admire the gorgeous Sheepadoodle that accompanied us, Uzzi, they invited us in for coffee (a robust Arabic coffee with cardamom) at their beautiful apartment on top of the Armenian Church. Their terrace overlooked the Mediterranean Sea and Andromeda's Rock (great story). This heartwarming conversation with strangers about family and life over coffee while watching the Mediterranean Sea is a memory that will last me a lifetime. This typical social call with strangers is one of the many reasons I loved this culture because it would be creepy elsewhere, at least where I live.

Jerusalem: I went to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, which resonates with spirituality and ancient wisdom. Walking through the narrow streets of the Old City, I was immersed in the history surrounding me. With its palpable reverence and prayer, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Mount of the Olives, and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount profoundly impacted my soul. I reflected on my beliefs and sought a deeper connection to my spirituality. It served as a reminder of how distant I've become from my faith and how crucial it is to rekindle that connection. The Old City's four quarters are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian, each with a unique feel. It is impressive to see how such different cultures and faiths, often at odds with each other, are so interwoven into a small geographical area. Also, there is much to explore outside of the Old City. Like Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, Yehuda Market is a must!

Masada: One of the most memorable moments of my journey was hiking in the breathtaking landscapes of Masada on my birthday. We had a 2:45 AM departure and a 2-hour drive from Tel Aviv. The trek up the Snake Path was a challenge that pushed us a little beyond our comfort zone. Once we reached the top, standing atop Mount Masada (the archaeological remains of Herod's palace), overlooking the desert landscape at sunrise, I felt a sense of clarity that offered me happiness and peace. Israel had become a mirror, reflecting my journey of rediscovery. I understood that just as this land had witnessed civilizations' rise and fall, I also experienced growth, setbacks, and renewal moments. And I gained an appreciation for resilience and the beauty that emerged from the adversity of my past.


girl floating in the Dead Sea

Dead Sea: After Masada, we ventured further into the desert. We visited the Dead Sea, which felt like nature's sanctuary for healing and rejuvenation. As I floated effortlessly in its mineral-rich waters (which closed a minor wound instantly), I let go of the burdens I had carried for so long and decidedly closed not-so-minor wounds, too. I realized that I had been shaping my identity based on past errors and limitations, and I was no longer willing to continue down that path. It felt like a symbolic shedding of old patterns and fears, leaving room for growth and transformation.


Day trip- Nazareth, Akko, & Haifa

Nazareth: Nazareth is a city that combines rich religious heritage with contemporary cultural offerings, making it a unique and significant destination for travelers interested in history, spirituality, and Middle Eastern culture. You cannot miss the beautiful Basilica of the Annunciation, where Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would conceive and bear the son of God, Jesus.

Akko: The vibrant Arab city of Akko, is known for its well-preserved Crusader-era architecture and bustling markets. Explore the ancient fortress, underground tunnels, and the picturesque harbor.

Haifa: Haifa offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the spiritual center of the Baha'i faith. The Baha'i Gardens are located on Mount Carmel and are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Unfortunately, due to a 10-day summit, we could not visit, but it attracts visitors from around the world.


The most significant part of my journey was the people I connected with along the way, beginning with my cousins, who were estranged until then. I engaged in conversations with locals from various backgrounds, each with their own unique stories to share. These interactions taught me the value of empathy and the importance of human connection. Through their eyes, I gained insights into the diverse tapestry of Israeli society and the world in general.


Key Recommendations your travel in Israel

Dress Code: I went in end of April to the beginning of May. The morning and nights were cool for a small jacket or long sleeves. Modest clothing is required when entering holy sites. You need to cover your knees and arms, both women and men. Everywhere I went, the clothing trend was loose and flowy.


Currency: Israeli Shekel (ILS) exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.61 ILS.


Budget: Israel is a moderately expensive destination for tourism, but it can be affordable if you plan your trip carefully. High tourist season, typically during the spring and fall, may result in higher prices for accommodations and attractions. Here is a breakout of my expenses:

how to budget for Israel

Basic Tips

  • Greetings: Israelis are friendly, and all speak English. Yet it's always nice to have a few essential words/greetings under your sleeve.

    • Hello= Shalom

    • Thank you= Todah

    • Thank you very much= Todah Rabah

    • Yes= Ken

    • No= Lo

    • When splitting the bill 50/50= Hetzy-hetzy (spelled phonetically)

  • Tipping: 12-15%, and you tell them to add that to your bill before making the payment.

  • Visa: Israel issues a free three-month visa on arrival for to US citizens. Your U.S. passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date you plan to depart Israel.

  • Transportation: For car service, download the Gett app. It is the Uber equivalent in Israel and is just as efficient and easy to use. For trains, you can check timetables and purchase tickets here to and from any city.

On a final note

As I concluded my journey, I carried memories of breathtaking landscapes and historical sites and a deeper understanding of myself. Israel provided me with the space to reflect, question, and embrace my journey of self-discovery. It reminded me that life is a continuous growth process and that every step forward, no matter how small, contributes to the person we are becoming.


Everything Israel has to offer:

  1. Historical and Religious Sites: From the ancient city of Jerusalem- Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and Al-Aqsa Mosque to the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, there are numerous sites to explore.

  2. Cultural Diversity: Israel is a melting pot of cultures, and travelers can experience a unique blend of traditions from Jewish, Arab, Christian, and other communities. Each region has its distinct customs, cuisine, and celebrations.

  3. Beautiful Landscapes: Despite its small size, Israel offers diverse landscapes, from the sandy beaches along the Mediterranean coast to the stunning cliffs and gorges in the desert and the iconic Dead Sea.

  4. Culinary Delights: Israeli cuisine is a fusion of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and North African influences, making it a delight for foodies. Some must-try dishes include green beans (my fave), Israeli cucumber and tomato salad, falafel, hummus with mushrooms, shawarma, and various fresh fruits and vegetables- I happily ate mainly vegetarian dishes.

  5. Outdoor Activities: For adventure seekers, Israel offers hiking opportunities, diving in the Red Sea, and exploring natural reserves. The country also has beautiful national parks, such as Masada and Caesarea.

  6. Nightlife and Entertainment: Much like NYC, Tel Aviv is known as the "City that Never Sleeps," having a vibrant nightlife with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues.

  7. Hospitality and Safety: Israel has a warm, welcoming, and hospitable culture and is safe for tourists. Locals are friendly and eager to share their culture and history with visitors, creating a beautiful sojourner (temporary resident) experience.

However, please note that circumstances are ever-changing. It's always good to check for the latest travel advisories and information before planning your trip to Israel!

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I have a passion for exploring new places, meeting new people, and immersing myself in different cultures. Through my travels, I have discovered so much beauty and diversity in the world, and I want to share my experiences and insights with you. I believe that travel has the power to broaden our horizons and connect us to the world in a meaningful way. I am excited to share my journey with you and invite you to join me on this adventure!

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