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HOME >Israel

Israel travel info

Israel.: 10 days,  April- May 08




Kind of travel:
An independent solo travel

25th April- 8th May 2008

Do 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

How I moved:
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

Freezing or baking?:
in April- May the warm weather is pleasant despite almost a shower per day; pick your umbrella and a sweater

Where I slept:
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

What I liked:
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 the story)

How much daily:
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

Dangers/ hassles:
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

What to have:
don't leave without having read about the complex Israeli origin, i.e.: "In principio", Cernia Slovin



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




The amazing 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?"
Blah, blah…
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 stamp.
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 and… I got pushed back (
read the story)!!
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.

[Travelling in Palestine]

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 by.
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, although hot.
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 the atmosphere.

[Travelling in Palestine]


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