So as I was spending 2015 in Greece, I realized that for very little money I could hop one continent over and not only see Israel, but also visit Turkey on a layover. Israel is not renown for being a budget destination, but like all things, the deals are there if you look for them. I had obvious safety concerns like any American going to Israel, but they way I explain it to people after going, if I had a choice to be stuck in downtown Phoenix at 3am where I live now, downtown NYC at 3am where I am from, or downtown Jerusalem at 3am, I would feel safest by far in downtown Jerusalem. That's not to say that things don't happen anywhere in the world, but I also could be hit by a bus as soon as I finish this blog post.
Here's how I spend my short stay in Israel and everything I did in only 4 or 5 days:
- I found a room off airbnb and stayed with a Russian couple right outside the walled city of old Jerusalem for about $40 a night. The location was perfect to see everything Israel had to offer.
- I find that you need to geographically measure countries, this isn't fool proof, but when people start telling you that you need to spend a month to see country you need to see just how big that country, Israel is about the size of New Jersey, I wouldn't dare tell someone that they need to spend a month in New Jersey to see it. That made the battle plan a lot easier, and my biggest travel tip for Israel...
- RENT A CAR! I wouldn't deal with crossing the borders, but for travel within Israel, it will be a hell of a lot easier and cheaper to rent a car and do it on your own, of course make sure to have gps and paper maps if gps fails. The rental car is around $30 a day, I had an international driver's license but they didn't ask for it. Having the car gave me the chance to see a ton more than I would have with a tour company, and no tour companies went to one of my main interests in the trip, the Negev Dessert. I also had extra time to do the dead sea in the car, and the ancient mountain city of Masada.
- Ride a camel across the 4,000 year old trail in the Negev Dessert, nuff said.
- I was told on trip advisor I needed at least two days to see the dead sea, I 'd correct this to say two hours max, float in it, take some pics, grab lunch, and leave.
|The Dead Sea, trust me, it's dead.|
- Now although I self toured with my car, I loved the Midnight Biking In Jerusalem tour, such a great and different way to see and learn about the city. I also self toured old Jerusalem.
- For the Palestinian Territories it was easier and safer to go with a tour company. I did a day in Jericho, & Bethlehem.
- And of course at night enjoy some Jewish or really any cuisine and shopping at Mamilla in Jerusalem.
- Tel Aviv is cool, but pretty much like any other big city.
This was my first trip to the middle east. It was a short but sweet journey that I will never forget. It opened my eyes more to not only the Jewish history but the Palestinian history as well. My first trip to the middle east, and hopefully not my last.