Full of history and culture, Israel is a place that many of us want to travel to. Here is everything you need to know before your trip.
If you’re lucky you’ll sail through their security. For many, passing through the Israeli immigration check can be quite daunting.
Both on the way in and out. While they may go through each and every item in your baggage with a fine tooth comb and also your emails and social media accounts, the checks are usually carried out by polite people, which can make it bearable.
This is no exaggeration, if you’re not carrying your own computer, they’ll even ask you to log into your various accounts from their computers so remember your passwords. You will also be interviewed in detail on the purpose of your visit.
However, once through, visiting Israel is an experience worth the effort. Which is perhaps why tourism is one of the major money earners for the country. Close to five million tourists visit each year.
A Brief Background
This tiny country bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt is inhabited by a little over nine million people and is held as a divine place by Jews, Muslims and Christians and has an extremely complex history, involving many conflicts.
Getting a little into ancient history the origins of Israel are said to go back to Abraham who is considered to be the father of Judaism and Islam via his sons Isaac and Ishmael. The conflict appears to have originated then.
With the end of WWI and the Ottoman empire, it was the British who took control over Palestine. It was only in 1948, several years after the end of WWII that Israel became an independent state.
Jerusalem, which is an hour’s drive from the capital Tel Aviv is considered sacred by both Jews and Muslims. It includes many holy sites and attracts about 3.5 million visitors each year.
Israel’s Best Places To See
There are any number of beaches that you could go to. Sunbathe, surf or just swim and wade. Tel Aviv itself has many good beaches and the swimming season is from March to October. Visit the Dolphin Reef at Eilat.
Most visitors make a beeline for the Dead Sea where you can float in the healing waters. So should you. While visiting the Dead Sea, set out time for the great fortress of Masada.
There are a great number of historical sites to see. Your hotel receptionist/concierge will help you plan. The best way is to join a group tour. Head for the old city of Jerusalem. It transports you back in time or plan on seeing the ancient city of Galilee.
If you’re a lover of nature, there are many national parks and reserves you would like to visit. You can ride a camel, sleep in a Bedouin tent and eat the local food.
Try Arak, the local tipple. This is made using anise seeds and grape brandy.
Do not touch an orthodox woman. It’s also not a good idea touching an orthodox man, not even on the shoulder.
You will see armed soldiers everywhere. Don’t react.
Don’t drive on Yom Kippur. This year it begins in the evening of September 15 and ends on September 16. This is the day of atonement.
Do not go hitchhiking – it can be unsafe.
If at a kosher restaurant be sure not to ask for non kosher food. Israeli breakfasts are heavy. Enjoy. You may not need lunch after that. Their coffee is the same as Turkish coffee.
Always leave a generous tip.
It’s an experience to volunteer to work at a Kibbutz. These are small communities of tens or hundreds of residents who work mainly in agriculture and sometimes in industry and the people are called Kibbutzniks. They pool in all their income for the community. This is one great way to make friends in Israel.
Visiting Israel is like no other vacation. You’ll get a charge out of it.
Our last travel guide visited Turkey. Have you been there?
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