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REASONS TO VISIT AND LOVE ISRAEL

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For such a small country, Israel has a lot going for it. In fact, its size makes Israel a great travel destination. Depending on when you drive (and how fast), you can drive from one edge of Israel in Eilat (near the Egypt border) to Metula (near the Lebanese border) on the other edge in seven hours. Within those borders, you’ll find everything from archaelogical ruins, important religious sites for the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christainity), amazing beaches, stunning desert views, urban nightlife, and natural wonders. In two hours, you can go from the desert to lush green landscapes. Here are some of reasons to visit and love Israel.

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Israel is a relatively new country, and its citizens have immigrated from all over the world. Meet people who have roots nearly everywhere - Romania, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Ethiopia, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, and more. Israel also has a big “Olim” community - Jewish people from the United States, Europe, and everywhere in between - who have decided to make Israel their home. You’ll find every flavor of Jew, from ultra-Orthodox to extremely secular, and many Christian and Muslim citizens. Most people in Israel speak good English and will be happy to tell you a story. Israelis aren’t known for being the most polite people on Earth. Instead, you’ll find authentic, honest people who wouldn’t hesitate to share their opinion on where the best hummus is or what you can’t miss on your trip.

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Israel is known for its fantastic food. As a nation of immigrants, Israeli food has influences from all over the world. You’re probably familiar with Middle Eastern fares such as falafel and hummus. You’ll discover dishes Jewish immigrants imported from their respective countries and blended to create Israeli fusion cuisine. There are too many dishes to try, including sabich (fried eggplant, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, and salad in pita bread), puff pastries like burekas and pastels, couscous (usually served with vegetable soup), jachnun, shakshuka, stuffed vegetables, tabbouleh, and Baba Ganoush and other eggplant dishes. Also, try Ptitim, an Israeli invention which is a type of toasted pasta in various shapes.

Israel also has a large proportion of vegans who invented innovative gems such as a plantbased sushi restaurant and the world’s first lab-meat restaurant.

Image de Lina Loos

Hidden gems
Gedera is a small Israeli town that you won’t find on many travel lists. I might be biased because I grew up there, but it’s a lovely town with a lot of history. Gedera was founded in 1884, the only town founded by the Bilu group. You can find a museum decade to the Bilu group (known as Bilium), as well as a sculpture garden. If you’re going to be visiting for a while and want to make sure you’ve seen everything, Gedera is worth a peek when you’re in the South.

The Red South (Darom Adom). If you’re visiting Israel in the winter, make sure to visit the Negev. Between January and February, the Israeli national flower, the Anemone, blooms. During this time, you’ll find farmer’s markets and other events for the whole family. The best places to visit are Be'er Marva, Dvira Forest, Shokda Forest, Be'eri Forest, and Ruhama.

Rosh Pinna is a one of the oldest Zionist settlements in Israel. It’s located North of the Galilee sea. You’ll find a fantastic view of the Hula Valley at Nimrod’s lookout, as well as archaelogical sites, restaurants, and art galleries.

Must see
The dead sea is the lowest place on Earth and the saltiest body of water in the world. Come here to float and cake yourself in mud, which is used to treat skin conditions like psoriasis and acne, and even heal back pain.

The old city in Jerusalem is considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Jerusalem is still considered the holiest of cities according to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. You’ll see letters to God left between the cracks of the Western Wall, the burial place of Jesus at Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock (the oldest Islamic monument in the world), and Al Aqsa Mosque, where Mohhamed prayed with the prophets, along with other religious sites.

Chen spent the first 25 years of her life living in various places around Israel. Since then, she has been discovering the world at large and living abroad. She firmly believes Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine is some of the best in the world.

- Chen, a Thailand based traveler
Travel Writer for TDO

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