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Tuesday Travel Diaries: Israel

24 April 2012

Hello everyone! My name is Lauren and I blog over at Adventures in Flip Flops where I share my adventures, recipes, summer camp, and love for books with the world. You can also find me on Goodreads, and Twitter. One of my very favorite things to do is to travel, and when I discovered Travel Tuesdays with Emily, I got really excited! So many things to share!

In particular, I thought of the trip I took last March to Israel. I surprised myself. I have never had a particular desire to go to Israel, something not characteristic of the Jewish community. But, as I aged and came close to graduating with my Master of Science, I realized that I had a unique opportunity that I should take advantage of.

As a young Jewish adult, I was able to take advantage of Birthright Israel and have my 10-day trip paid for. I traveled with 40 other young adults via bus, stayed in hostels, tents, and at guest houses of kibbutzim {communal farm type places} and generally got a whirlwind tour!

My trip was through a provider called Israel Outdoors. In particular, I chose a trip called Israel by Foot, which, as you can imagine, focuses on hiking.

And hike we did! There's a gorgeous mountain range near Eilat where we could see The Gulf of Eilat {and Jordan},
{In the Gulf of Eilat}
and even Saudi Arabia in the distance {see the smoke on the left side?}.

{From my favorite hike}
We also camped in the Ramon Crater and hiked out the next morning, and then got up super early to see the sunrise from Masada.

Even though we spent a LOT of time hiking, we also went to some awesome historical, religious, and cultural sights. Jerusalem is, by far, my favorite city in Israel, although, Tel-Aviv is bustling with it's own atmosphere. I just couldn't resist the history surrounding Jerusalem, though. The markets where the meat is kosher {and I was mistaken several times for an Israeli}, the falafel is delicious, and candy is sold by the pound.

The Western Wall and the energy that seems to surround it. The heart-wrenching visit to Yad Vashem {Holocaust Memorial Museum} and Her Hertzel {military cemetary} that had me crying for hours {that was a HUGE suprise!}.

{An American from PA who joined the Israeli army}
We also did some pretty stereotypical things like riding camels, and floating in the Dead Sea {boy, that was an experience}.

And....we ate. Oh, did we eat. The food is so wonderful. Schawarma {spit roasted meat, similar to gyros} served with cabbage and pita, falafel, hummus so good I hesistate to eat anything in the U.S., shakshuka, lentil soup, straight-out-of-the-oven hamentaschen, breakfasts of boiled eggs and bell pepper die for. One my fondest memories is finding a little hole-in-the wall restaurant run by an old Eygptian-Jewish lady. Stuffed zucchini, rice with chickpeas {which she called hummus}, water with fresh lemon and mint. SO GOOD.

The people are warm, vibrant, and friendly. Part of the Birthright experience is traveling with Israeli peers so that you can learn about what life is like for them, and they for you. Because everyone in Israel is required to serve in the military, many of our peers were in the Army or Navy, many were younger than me, and a few were just now starting school. It was wonderful to speak with them, party with them, and generally see how alike we are, and yet, how our experiences are so, so different.
{An Egyptian soldier taking pictures of us from his side of the border. This was shortly after the revolution}
For weeks after returning, I couldn't imagine not going back. I still want to go back. Israel is a unique place that marries so many different cultures. Yes, it has its problems {which I purposely did not, and will not discuss here}, but it is a special place. I'll get back there one day. I know it.

Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us, Lauren!  I would love to float in the Dead cool!  If you enjoyed this post, please go say hello to Lauren over at Adventures in Flip Flops.  I particularly love her book reviews--she's so intelligent and thoughtful.  

If you've taken a trip {old or new} that you'd like to share on Tuesday Travel Diaries, please email me at emmyjuneborninmay{@}gmail{.}com

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  1. My husband had a chance to visit Israel for work - and his pictures, like yours, look amazing. He also made comment on the dead sea - I would like to try it first hand. It looks like you had an amazing trip.

  2. Awesome post! I met Lauren at the blogger meet-up I went to in March, and she's so kind and wonderful. Also, one of my best friends went on a birthright trip, and she loved it. So amazing!

  3. What an incredible opportunity and journey! I love the pictures of the water. I'm so interested in traveling to the middle east right now. I really enjoyed this. Thanks!

  4. Wow, wow, wow! Such an awesome experience. Your photos were amazing, and the thought of good schawarma is making me drool a little. Thanks for sharing, Lauren! I'm headed to your blog now :)

  5. What a fun post :) And I love your idea for this series - her adventure reminds me of my trip to Israel years ago - great pictures!

  6. I've been responding to a lot of you via e-mail, but I just want to say thank y'all! It was such a wonderful trip! I've often thought about going to school over there or doing some sort of program (maybe after I get rid of some of this loan debt!) and I hope I get back there some day.

    Also, thank you to all of my new followers!

  7. LOVE this post. =) I went on birthright as a participant and then as a staff member a few years later. It truly is the most incredible experience. So happy you girls shared this trip =)

  8. oh wow, an opportunity of a lifetime!!! all of these images are absolutely beautiful!
    xo TJ

  9. Now this is Israel in a different perspective! Floating in the Dead Sea is one of my bucket list! Thank you for this post!

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  10. A trip in Israel is probably one of the most unique experiences ever. From the looks of it, you seem to have enjoyed your stay there. I surely would love to float on the Dead Sea and go to a lot of historical places! I look forward to the day that I would get the chance to be there.

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  12. The Israeli government’s refusal to allow him to travel is obviously intended to suppress his speech.  חבילות לחול


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