What come’s to mind when you hear about Israel?
When I told to my friends I’m heading to Israel,
Their first response was “Is it Safe for Female Solo Traveller”?
With the things happening around us, we often see on the news about safety issues in travelling not just in Israel but the whole World. What has the world becoming into? My recent visit to Israel was overwhelming, a place that has changed my expectations about travelling as a Female Solo Traveller in a positive way!
Flying from the United Kindom, the usual check-in and airport passport control took place. We swiflty boarded as usual and just less than two hours we landed to Frankfurt Airport. With 2 hours layover, I was thinking it should be plenty of time to catch up with my connecting flight. Little did I know that in Frankfurt Airport we need to go through another security check, I was wondering why? Then I was going through the security only for passengers for Israel bound, the usual checks but more rigid. They will check your hand luggage even it has gone through the xray machine, body inspection by hand patted and with a sensor stick. Wow that was a bit intense with the security checks.
I arrived at Ben Guiron Airport in the afternoon, going through the passort control was quick, usual questions like what’s the purpose of travel, how long will I stay. Soon they issued me a blue entry card, instead of stamping my passport. (Important Remider: Need to keep the entry card in safe, hotel establishments will look for it when checking-in)
After collecting my luggage, I swiftly find my way to the airport train connecting to the city. I was trying to buy a ticket from the machine. And funny enough I can’t even read the signs at the ticket machine, it’s all written in Hebrew! The only word I know is “Shallom“! That feeling and thinking out loud to myself “Oh Fuck“! I felt so lost and this is not my first solo travel at all, I was anxious. But gladly theres a ticketing office around the corner. With ticket at hand off I went to the platform, and quickly check google map for the nearest station to the hotel, its less than an hour journey to the city centre of Tel Aviv. The smile in my face start resurfacing again as soon as I grabbed a taxi and dropped me off infront of my hotel.
The Gordon Inn Suites is a couple of minutes walking distance to the beach, and few blocks away to the Dizengoff street. A great place lined with bars and restaurants. I met a solo traveller at the hotel and we went out for a meal that evening, we ended up chatting to local Israeli guy at the bar. I was curious and asked him about the public transportation, if it is easy for me to navigate and visit different places. He then suggested to download “Moovit apps”. After a couple of cocktails, I decided to have an early night as I planned to joined the free walking tour in Old Jaffa the following morning.
Old Jaffa or Yafo is situated at the southern part of Tel Aviv-Yafo. Jaffa and its ancient port having a history spanning over three thousand years. It is 40 metres (130 ft) above sea level, with a broad view of the coastline, giving it a good vantage point as well as strategic importance in military history. Wandering around the area and admiring the fascinating history behind the walls of the old buildings.
Days out near Tel Aviv
A random roadtrip to “Akko” Acre and Haifa is a great option. With newly found friends Nofar and Jose we hired a car for the day out, and we had a great time visiting Akko. We ended up at the beautiful Shrine of Bahai, a faith I never have heard before not until I have visited the site.
The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, is located in Bahjí near “Akko” Acre, Israel. It is the most holy place for Bahá’ís. It is where the remains of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of Baháí faith were laid to rest. And the adjacent Mansion of Bahjíis his final place of his exile and where he died. The place is surrounded with immaculate and well curated garden, it is maintained by volunteers of Bahá’ís. It is also inscribed on the World Heritage List.
We also headed to Haifa where we visited the Baháí Garden. Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb also called “Terraces of the Bahá’í Faith“, also known as the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, a well curated and symmetrical garden carved on the side Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Where the graves of some of the members of the Bahá’í holy family laid to rest. A very peaceful place with stunning view of the beach. And one of the most popular destinations for Bahá’ís faith pilgrims as well as tourist.
Here’s the Highlights of my Roadtrip Around Israel:
After exploring Tel Aviv with a little bit of determination and courage to do my usual roadtrip escapade. I planned to go for a solo roadtip to Tiberias. I decided to travel light, so I left my luggage bag at the hotel and I just pack a few clothes for a 3 day trip. The mobile app was so handy, I just entered the address I wanted to visit, and gives me options and time of buses to take. As the bus slowly moves away passing through the concrete high scraper buildings of Tel Aviv, the scenery slowly changed to open field and mountain. While on the bus I was checking out hotels in Tiberias, I took the last minute booking sale and it was a bargain. I also planned out my itinerary, what to see and do while in Tiberias. I didn’t even noticed we are already near to our destination.
We were then welcomed with the “Sea of Galilee” glimmering by the distant. Tiberias is a small town where the The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth (686 ft) below sea level and regarded the second-lowest lake in the world after the Dead.
The Sea of Galilee is an attraction for Christian pilgrims, local and foreign tourists alike. The place where Jesus performed miracles such as Jesus walking on water, calming the storm and feeding the multitude. Just recently opened to the public the 40-mile (64 km) called the “Jesus Trail”. For the pilgrims and outdoor lovers this is a great walking trail.
I also had a chance to visit the Jordan River Baptismal site. Just 15 minutes bus ride from Tiberias. A key attraction where the water flows into the Jordan River, a very famous to thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to be baptized every year.
The next day I headed to Nazareth were I ended up staying for two days. Actually I just wanted to stay for the night, but fell in love at the atmosphere of the mansion I stayed, and the cool people I met. Wandering around the shops with new acquaintances and photographing the old buidings was a delight. Visiting churches, chapels and I was even lucky enough to attend an english mass at the Basilica.
During the day a massive influx of pilgrims/tourist visiting The Basilica of Annunciation, but during the evening its not so crowded. Nazareth is a predominantly occupied by muslims and the upper Nazareth were occupied by the Jews area.
While I was meandering and looking for a best vantage point looking out the whole city of Nazareth. I noticed a familiar face, I was reacquainted with Rahul of Plush Places, I first met him in Sweden last year. And we are staying at the same mansion house, what a small world!
We ended up doing a roadtrip with a local guy who drove us to Northern part of Israel. While leaving Nazareth we drove up to the Mount Precipice. It is situated just south of the city overlooking the Jezreel Valley. A very popular place for pilgrims following the “Jesus Trails”.
There’s a local legend says that the cave opened up to hide Jesus from the angry mob, who tried to throw him off the cliff. Another legend says that Jesus lept from the mount, landing 9km away on Mt. Tabor, hence where the name comes from Jebel Qafzeh which translates to “mount of the leaping”.
We visited winery in The Golan Heights. Which is the borders Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. The beautiful scenery driving passed the snow capped Mount Hermon backdrop by the distant. Then we continued to drive towards Tiberias and we had a quick stopped at the Capernaum. The Gospels relate that Jesus lived in the area and performed his miracles.
After the random and spontaneous roadtrip, I went back to Tel Aviv to pick up my luggage and headed to Jerusalem. After exploring the Old Town, the mosque, churches and the different quarters, I decided to go for a day tour with Abraham Tours. I booked myself to the Masada Sunrise Tour, what was I thinking? The tour pickup time was 2 am, YES that early! With just a couple of hours sleep, with my half opened blurry eyes and my day backpack I jumped in the van together with the group. On the way to Masada a had a quick nap which I surely needed, we reach the gate after and hour drive. I dragged myself and followed the group towards the ticketing office after paying the entrance fee 29 shekels, we were given a map of the Masada National Park.
We started our ascend following the Snake Path on the east side, it was still dark but our eyes were gradually adjusting to the surroundings and the daylight slowly coming on. Walking through the rough path with lose pebbles/ stones ( I highly suggest wear proper walking shoes and bring torch ) and with hundredths of steps we reached the summit just less than an hour. We were greeted with the ruins of a Palatial Fortress built in the reign of Herod, King of Judea.
It is the last bastion of Jewish freedom fighters against the Romans. The plateau is 450 meters above the level of the Dead Sea. Now it is a place for hiking adventures with a stunning views overlooking the Deadsea and Old Quarry. While the sun slowly rising, giving a glimpse of orange colours to the sky a perfect place to capture the sunrise. (If hiking isn’t your thing theres a cable car service provided with a fee, do check out the operating time).
After lots of epic hiking selfies, we starts our descent towards the van. And headed to our next adventure to En Gedi Nature Reserve. With the daylight we can see more of the surrounding areas, passing through the mountains and deserts. We reached the nature reserve just before 8 am, with the cafe by the entrace we took the chance to have breakfast. Pot noodles anyone? ( you are not allowed to have picnic or bring food inside the nature reserve, for the safety of the wild animals ).
While wandering around we were lucky to witness Rock Hyrax in their usual habitat, they looks like big rats but more CUTE, they live in between the rocks and a bit aloft to people. I also spotted Male Ibex on a steep hill, their horns are very impressively curby and they say it continually growing throughout their life ( It’s ashame I haven’t had a chance to take photo, they moved so quick ).
We continued our treks around and saw numerous waterfalls. It is such a beautiful place to hike around but with not much time to explore more, you can easily spend a whole day hiking around the area. But I was happy and eager to move to our next destination.
Yes a visit to Israel is not complete without going to this place! Deadsea or the “Sea of the Arabah” is a landlock saltllake bordering Jordan, Palestine and Israel. It is the lowest point on dry land, more than 400m below sea level. It has a high mineral content allows nothing to live in its waters. The unique mineral concentration of the Dead Sea waters has long been known to have medicinal value.
As soon as we reached the area, I ran towards the sea. And ofcourse as we all knew that the hypersaline water makes floating easy. I was so keen to try and float, at first I slowly lowered myself to the water. You know the feeling that someone pushes you! That’s the feeling, that as soon as your upper body touches the water it automatically pushes you back and your feet will follow to float, the feeling was so weird. But as soon as you get use to it the feeling is so relaxing. To complete the pampering day, why not apply the black mud! The mineral-rich Black mud is used for therapeutic and cosmetic treatments. I slathered the black mud to my face and body, it’s nice and easy to apply its gooey and soft texture. After that you visibly noticed your skin is much softer, so that’s my FREE SPA treatment done!
My Israel road trip wasn’t complete without visiting Bethlehem. A place which is very important to Christians, it’s the biblical birthplace of Jesus. And most controversial place to visit as it is situated in Palestine at the West Bank. As we all hear on the news that Israel and Palestine are at WAR! But that didn’t stop us to go. On my last day in Jerusalem together with 2 American ladies, we visited Bethlehem. We did the usual church visit at the Nativity Church, it was late afternoon when we got there so we didn’t explore the place as much as we wanted to. There’s also this newly opened hotel called “The Walled Off Hotel” inspired by artist Banksy work of arts.
My roadtrip around Israel is an epic one, being spontaneous is fun, meeting friendly locals and other travellers makes my journey an unforgettable experience. If you are still asking yourself and in doubt if Israel is SAFE. I won’t be here telling this EPIC JOURNEY and posting my fabulous PHOTOS! If Israel is not on your travel radar after reading this, you are definitely missing out the FUN!
ISRAEL is definitely SAFE. GO, SEE and EXPERIENCE it for yourself.
I highly suggest to download the Moovit app, it’s so great and very handy when using the public transport. Gives you the option route and time for buses/trains. ( Take note its in Hebrew but can show your destination to the driver) and just watch the map and will tell you which bus stop to get off).
When travelling around Israel you need to be aware of Sabbath. It is Judaism’s day of rest and seventh day of the week for the religious Jews. Transportation is highly affected during this times Friday afternoon until Saturday evening. There are limited option to take, there is a Sherut ( a private Van ) taxis or car hire.
From the airport to Tel Aviv City Centre, it only cost 13.50 shekels for one way train ticket, you can also take bus. There are four stops around the city centre so make sure you check which station to get off.
Taxis are ok to take, they are honest and charge you through the meter.
When dining out or at the bars be prepared to give at least 10-15% tip, Yes dining out is expensive in Israel in general
Dont be alarmed when you see militaries at the malls, buses, markets, literally they are everywhere! Did you know that National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18. Although Arab citizens and ultra-orthodox Jews are exempts from the service.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Abraham Tours for providing me a complimentary Masada Sunrise Tour. I enjoyed the amazing experience and I retained full editorial control and all opinions are my own.