Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On my Travel Bucket List: Israel

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

That is exactly how I feel about travelling. I'm just went to Goa last month and my mind is already working on where to go next! Like other years I have not done an international trip this year and it is high time that I now start planning my next international trip. One of the latest additions to my travel bucket list has been Israel as I landed up checking on it when a couple of friends decided to plan a trip there, and I was amazed at what all it had to offer. The fact that it is considered to be part of the Holy Land as Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Bahaism all have historical relations to the region, is what first intrigued me. On further research, not only the history and culture but also the fact that it is a beautiful scenic country with so much to offer right from beaches to vineyards, from museums to forts, finest of architecture to being a technologically advanced economy is what made me put it on my bucket list.

Now whenever I add a country/destination to my bucket list, it has to have at least 5 things that I look forward to doing there until and unless reasons less than that are absolutely amazing/unmatchable/once in a lifetime reasons :) Israel for me will be about all these:

1. Religious and Architectural Cities and Sights

a) Jerusalem

Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel being one of the holiest cities in the world, is full of history and the importance it holds for the Jewish, Christians and Muslim faiths is immeasurable. It is also known as ‘The City of Gold’ for its monumental gold bricks that are a part of practically every building in the city. The Old City has a lot of architectural assets like churches, mosques and a lot more holy sites that will take you back in time and a few of them that I am looking forward to visit are 
  • The Western Wall (Wailing Wall) - this massive wall is a remnant of the Holy Temple
  • David’s Tomb
  • The Citadel (Tower of David)
  • The Via Dolorosa – path of the 14 stations of the Cross
  • Garden of Gethsamane – place where Jesus was arrested
  • Church of the Holy Sepulchre – built on the site of Jesus’ crucifixion
  • The Cenaculum of the Last Supper
  • Dome of the rock ON Temple Mount
  • Hebrew University
  • Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
  • Al-Aqsa Mosque
  • The Mount of Olives
The New City too is picturesque and is dotted with fantastic hotels, museums, great shopping, a well connected public transport system, amazing bars, impressive nightlife and is a culinary delight as you will find not only gourmet restaurants but also eateries where the food is cooked slowly over ancient stoves.

b) Nazareth

Nazareth is another must visit city which not only holds religious importance because Jesus spent the first 30 years of his life there, but also because it has an amazing location in the heart of a valley surrounded by mountains, diverse culture and architecture. Beautiful archaeology of structures built which have stories related Jesus and his period alive is the highlight here and Gothic-style architecture is a prominent style. On my wishlist are
  • Church of the Annunciation - built on the at traditional site of Joseph and Mary’s home
  • Greek Orthodox Church of the Archangel Gabriel - built over the freshwater spring known as Mary’s Well
  • Greek Catholic Synagogue Church - assumed site of the synagogue where the young Jesus was taught
  • Franciscan Church of St. Joseph - built over a cave identified since the 17th century as the workshop of Joseph
  • Basilica of Jesus the Adolescent - biggest church in the city with a panoramic view
  • Nazareth Village - Replica of a first-century village to help understand life during biblical times
Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel and it promises an authentic Middle Eastern experience. 

2. The Dead Sea and Beautiful Beaches

Surrounded by the Red Sea, Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, Israel has a lot of beaches. Whether you want to float, swim, scuba dive, surf, sail, water ski or just chill, there is something for everyone. Floating in the Dead Sea(the lowest point in the world) and reading a book without any worries has been on my must do bucket list for like forever. The salinity of the Dead Sea is roughly 10 times more than that of the standard ocean. Due to this, firstly, no water-dwelling creature or plant can survive in it, and secondly, humans can float as the high salt content has the effect of making the human body more buoyant. It is highly therapeutic too so there are quite a few beaches with resorts that offer therapies thus promoting Health Tourism.

You can swim alongside dolphins at the Dolphin Beach which is located within the Dolphin Reef in Eilat by the Red Sea. They also have planks built above the water from where you can observe the marine life inside the sea. Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat offer plenty of beaches for relaxing, surfing and water sports.

3. A Varied Shopping Experience

Along with hosting architectural sights, Israel also hosts malls, flea markets and souks that offer a wide variety in terms of fashion, jewellery, local food and authentic local ware. It has an equal mix of suburban modern malls and outdoor shopping walkaways. Since I love street shopping as much as branded shopping, I am going to head to the Old City’s Arab Shuk(Souk) that is well known among the shuks at Jerusalem for its regional/endemic collection of clothing. Jerusalem Malcha Mall is known for its high street brands and it offers international as well as Israeli Stores. Kikar Hamedina at Tel Aviv is an area with the most expensive brands like Gucci, Prada etc.

4. Vineyards and Wineries

Wine is my favourite drink and I always keep trying different types of wines from different places. Israel has produced wine since the Biblical times and has gone back to the tradition in modern times with over 300 wineries producing award winning wines. Galilee-Golan, Shomron, Samson, Judean Hills and Negev are the official 5 wine regions of Israel and there are guided vineyard tours with vintage wines, gourmet foods and beautiful sceneries to delight you. Getting into specifics, Katlav Winery in the Jerusalem Hills is one of the famous wineries in Jerusalem for full bodied and strong grape wines and Kerem Barak Winery at Judean Hills is the only winery in Israel to offer orange wine, so these two I am definitely looking forward to.

5. Night Life at Tel Aviv

When you vacation, you should party! Tel Aviv is commonly known as the party capital of the Middle East and when it hosts so many young and beautiful people there is bound to the extravagant vibe. Beach parties, music concerts and live band performances are a regular feature in the city. Central Tel Aviv has the maximum number of bars and clubs that one can visit and it will be fun to club hop in this city.

P.S,: One can travel to Gulf Countries after having the Israel visa stamp on your passport.

Now you know why Israel figures on my Travel Bucket List and I am sure most of you are getting ready to take this journey with me.....

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  1. And after reading this post Israel is added to our bucketlist as well!!! :)

  2. I am very pleased to find this blog. I want to thank for your time for this wonderful read!!! Keep Sharing, I’ll surely be looking for more.

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  3. Beautiful traveling theory for those who are visiting to the Israel. Why not anyone in this world love to visit the places shared here. I would like to add ranikhet for those who love to travel peaceful Himalayan destination with lot of adventurous activities.


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