My Israeli Experience...
Highs: The ease of crossing the border (despite my Syria and Lebanon stamps in my passport);
creature comforts of home; being able to see family while in Tel Aviv; Yad Vashem (Holocaust
Museum); Old City of Jerusalem; Old Jaffa (in Tel Aviv); bathrooms with toilets and toilet paper (and
sometimes even toilet seat covers).
Lows: How insanely expensive this place is after traveling through the rest of the Middle East; some
people aren't the most..um..friendly.
Best Moment: While I've seen so many great things here, I have to say just being able to stroll
around Tel Aviv and having no plan or sights to see is quite a treat.
Smells: The Mediterranean Sea (while in Tel Aviv).
Sounds: Lots of talking and laughing at the cafes; Israelis appearing to be in heated discussions;
Israeli pop music.
Sights: Resort-meets-Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk atmosphere in Eilat; Hebrew writing
everywhere (I know this is obvious but it still feels like a big change after seeing Arabic everywhere);
a Communist demonstration at Rabin Square (directly across from the apartment I'm staying at);
tons and tons of cafes in Tel Aviv; graffiti consisting of Jewish stars; Independence Hall; Neve Tzedek;
Old Jaffa; crafts market at Nahalat Binyamin; Holocaust Memorial (free).
Tastes: All of the Western food you can think of; a much-craved ice blended from Coffee Bean & Tea
Leaf; the best rugelach (a type of cookie/pastry) I've ever tasted.
Purchases: Glass bowl, glass platter, purse/bag, earrings, shirt; Tampax Compact tampons (I
know this doesn't sound like a big deal..but these are a rare find out in this part of the world).
Street Food: Schwarma and falafel; different kinds of breads and pastries.
Fun Food Finds: Pink grapefruit Mentos; McShawarmas, potato wedges (in addition to French
fries) and corn fritters at McDonald's (in addition to no cheeseburgers).
Western Companies Out Here: Sbarro; Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf; Domino's; ACE Hardware.
Other General Info...
Visa needed? No.
Type of currency? Shekels. Approximately 4.5 of the make up $1 US.
Transportation: Walked right in from Taba (the border town in Egypt); buses will be used to get
from city to city. Buses run from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv every fifteen minutes and the ride is only one
Ben-Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv): There is free wireless Internet.
Shabbat: Things here are closed from Friday late afternoon until Saturday at sundown. Sunday is
part of their normal work schedule.
Things Israel Is Known For: Being predominantly Jewish.