Israel travel info
Israel.: 10 days,
April- May 08
Kind of travel:
An independent solo travel
25th April- 8th May 2008
I need a visa?:
no visa needed, just at the airport stand the ground to not
have the passport stamped! Israel stamp on the passport means
an endless hassles around the world
easy traveling by buses that connect all the towns and there'r
a bunch of train lines. It's during the Shabbat (Fr- Sat) that
moving gets a bet
in April- May the warm weather is pleasant despite almost a
shower per day; pick your umbrella and a sweater
there's no lack of accommodations, but in the hostels full booking
can be an issue. If you have no reservation, the best is to
pop up in the morning
the outstanding safety, Jerusalem, Mizpe Ramon in the Negev
desert, the Dead Sea, the Kibbutz
and overall, every single
step in Israel is like reading a page of a history book
What I disliked:
the freezing air
condition on the buses, moving around during Shabbat (Israeli
week end) and being rejected from the border near Jenin (read
traveling in Israel is NOT CHEAP! Main expenses: accommodation
(dorm- single: 14- 30 euro) and meals (5-9 euro), in general
for backpacking don't budget less then 50 euro/day
at worst during a night walk in some narrow street in Jerusalem
you could risk being pick-pocketed, otherwise Israel is among
the safest places I've ever been
don't leave without having read about the complex Israeli origin,
i.e.: "In principio", Cernia Slovin
IMPRESSIONS ABOUT ISRAEL
Traveling in Israel is like reading a heap of
history and religious books. It's amazing to think in a so tiny
piece of land they could have happened most of the facts characterizing
the world history of the last 2.000 years. If you add the country
it's amazingly safe, the standards of transport and accommodation
quite high, locals mostly English speakers and very helpful,
by no means it shouldn't be missed.
Israel is a puzzle of religions and cultures where Jerusalem
represent the top, but definitely Israel is not just the holy
city. One of the most interesting thing I learned was about
the Jewish ultra-orthodox: the black-dressed fanatics who spent
most of their lives reading and praying the Torah, and don't
think it's a negligible part of the population! How ultra-orthodox
could 'somehow' live together with Muslim and Christians and
how little is known about their existence (while everybody knows
the Iranian Khomeini!) is unbelievable.
Even much more numerous then the ultra-orthodox, are the militaries
engaged in any corner to guarantee the safety of the country.
Public means of transport are full of M16 armed guys and girls
reaching the barracks. Military service takes 2-3 years respectively
for females and men, hence the country is characterized by a
meaningful percentage of ultra-orthodox and another huge percentage
of militaries. How can the economy withstand it? Boh??
From the environment point of view, those thinking Israel is
just a boring piece of desert will be surprised by its variety.
Besides the Negev desert charactering the south, there's the
wonderful Dead Sea, the blue Sea of Galilee, the green Golan
height and the sandy Mediterranean coast.
As you see, I appreciated the country
architecture of Tel Aviv airport won't leave you indifferent,
however you won't admire it that long you'll be stopped and
questioned by self confident youngish guys:
"Why are you in Israel?"
"Who do you know?"
"Where do you go?"
Taken for granted you have nothing to hide, they'll make you
feel somehow a kinda of guilty and wasting a looot of time.
Indeed my Somali visa didn't smooth the whole thing. :-)
Anyway despite have been annoyed, I left the immigration happy,
since I avoided my passport being marked by the troublemaker
Israel is a kind of traveler paradise for moving around: lot
of public means of transports and easy to be spotted, left out
during the Shabbat (the 'Jewish week end') when Jewish are not
allowed to do any physical job, driving buses and train included.
Shabbat begins at 2.00pm on Friday and ends around 5.00pm on
Saturday; then moving around gets a hassle.
Guess when I exited the Tel Aviv airport?
At 2.15 on Friday, of course!!
Hence, instead of the super comfortable Tel Aviv- Haifa direct
train, I had to take a mix of supposedly-Arabians-driven minibus.
I pulled into Haifa only in the late afternoon.
Haifa is a kinda of Russian enclave, a nice place where to loiter
visiting the gardens (don't miss), the church overlooking the
town, the seaside
Good nightlife, as well. So enough to
fill half-day and then in 20min I reached Akko.
Akko is both a Muslim enclave and an open air museum, I guess
a kind of must for a travel in Israel, but take into account
you won't be the only one tourist there!
At 5.00 pm on Friday the Shabbat ended, hence I was more than
happy the 'easy travel' commenced.
Tsfat is an ultra-orthodox town perched on the mountains at
the border with Lebanon. It's considered the centre of the study
of the Torah (the holy Jewish book) and you will find more Synagogues
and Haredim (the black dressed ultra-orthodox Jewish) than in
any other part of the world. It's a cute and fresh place to
hang around for few hours, but, unless you are not in the Torah
stuffs, don't expected too much. Moreover forget snapping around
excited to take home your pics of these funny guys, since, among
the endless list of things they reject, cameras are included
and they won't make an exception for you!
Traveling from Tsfat to Afula (3h) I enjoyed the landscape around
the blue Galilee sea and I regretted I hadn't time to stop to
loiter around, maybe renting a bike
My initial plan was to enter Palestine passing the border point
between Afula and Jenin. In Afula I took a minibus crowd of
M16 armed soldiers, walked towards the heavily wire-barbed gate
I got pushed back (read
Then after some moments of frustration I diverted heading to
Beit She'an and taking a bus to Jericho passing along the Israeli-controlled
Jordan valley. Israeli buses don't enter the Palestine-controlled
area of Jericho, so I got dropped off on the highway and I hitch-hiked
to cover the left 5km to Jericho.
From Jericho there are no direct connections to Ein Gedi, one
of the main spots where to swim and enjoy the super-salty sea.
So you'll need to get a taxi or a minibus to cover the 10km
till the Israeli controlled highway. Here you won't wait that
long under the hot sun till a bus on the way to Eliat passes
In Ein Gedi there's
a nice hostel and you can spend a day, visiting the National
Reserve with his canyons and waterfalls, the Ein Gedi kibbutz
and half hour at the dawn to float on the sea.
It's possible to reach the famous fortress of Masada by bus
(2h), but you have just to plan a little your trip, since there
are just few per day. You can get to the top of the mountain
where the site is perched by walking a steeeeeeeeep trail or
taking the comfortable funicular
And guess what I did?
Wrong! I walked up! :-)
I think Masada is the best place from where to admire the jaw-dropping
view of the huge bright Dead Sea and the place itself is worth
the sweaty walk.
There's just one bus per day (in the early afternoon) connecting
Masada to Be'er Sheva and then it's just 2h to reach Mizpe Ramon.
I found this town the most curious place I've seen in Israel.
It's quite a modern town, built in 1950 on the edge of a crater
in the middle of the Negev desert. Although being in a desert,
the air is very fresh and the atmosphere is unique being many
artists settled here. The youth hostel was full booked, so I
diverted to the very strange place called ' Adama' in the industrial
area; a renewed factory shed where a dance school has classes.
The place itself is not bad at all, but I was completely alone
the whole night, no way to lock the doors, outside was very
windy, so I spent an agitated night
It's 1.5h from Mizpe Ramon till the Kibbutz Sde Boker, from
where the trail through the Ein Avdat National Park starts;
here I spent the morning walking at the bottom of this narrow
canyon with its cold and green pools. It's a special place,
5h later, changing bus in Be'er Sheva, I pulled in Jerusalem,
where I spent the following day. It's useless to describe the
atmosphere of the place where the three world monotheistic religions
live side by side. Even if quite a touristy place, visiting
Jerusalem remains a deep experience and the dormitories in the
basement of the Austrain Hospice do help feeling involved in
[Travelling in Palestine]