I fell in love with Israel..

…on my first visit in 2011 while I was pregnant with my son. I lounged on the beach, drank iced coffee slushies, and grew as big as a house on the best eggplant you’ll ever eat. Since then I’ve been every year, so I have a semi-insiders view on how to get the best out of a visit to Israel which I want to share with you!

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Getting there..

I’m not going to lie, the airline tickets are expensive and the flight is long. From New York, it’s a sweet 10 hours and tickets range from $1,000 to $1,500 and above.

If you’re worried about terrorism, don’t be. Getting on a plane to Israel is probably the safest flight you’ll ever take, as there’s an additional security gate after the American gate, and at least half of the individuals on the plane headed to Israel are native and have served in the military at some point. These people know how to handle drama, so you’re good.

We tend to head to Israel in September when the kids are back in school and the weather is not too hot.


Where to stay?

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Israel is not the cheapest of places, so if you’re cool with airbnb I’d recommend booking an apartment in Tel-Aviv. You’ll be right on the beach, and have access to nightlife all in one place. Think Miami only a million times hipper. Schlepping a family? Consider the Daniel Hotel in Herzliya, it’s a 5-star resort with a gorgeous ocean view pool above the beach. Young people tend to gather here for day trips at the weekend where they host a DJ and bottle service. The Daniel Hotel is 30 minutes from Tel-Aviv so you could also catch a bus there for a day or over night trip.


Adventures you must have!

Old City View

The Old City – Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s “Old City” is breathtaking. Standing for more than 3,000 years, it’s home to incredible architecture, an amazing market and what’s considered to be one of the holiest places in the world with the iconic Wailing wall.

When you’re visiting the Wailing Wall- religious or not- you MUST participate in one of Israel’s cultural and spiritual acts, writing and delivering a prayer message to the wailing wall. Scribe a personal wish or prayer on a small piece of paper, and post it inside a crevice of the wall.  By the holy nature of the wall God will hear your prayer and keep it safe.

*Ladies- please note that by the wailing wall modesty is required so no boobs or legs, make sure to pack a long-sleeved blouse and a wrap or shall.

Additionally it’s best to hit Jerusalem in the afternoon around 3pm when there’s a breeze, and be prepared for lots of walking.

I’m not a religious or travel scholar so for some more in depth reading on Jerusalem and it’s history click here.

 Jaffa – Tel Aviv

10 minutes in a Cab through Tel-Aviv the area of Jaffa is hip , full of markets, shops and restaurants. I love to go here and haggle for Hamsa Bracelets and nick nacks. You’ll also find some designer shops here on a parallel with New Yorks West Village.

I discovered cool designer Sharon Brunsher the last time I was there.

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For more markets…


The Dead Sea

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400 meters below sea level Israel’s “Dead sea” is the lowest and saltiest place on earth. Swimming in the dead sea is like a spa treatment. The water is warm (there are no animals) and floating is a cinch because of the salt. Warning – do not put your eyes in the water (unless you want to have no eyes left), and ladies don’t shave your legs before you go in the water. It burns. It’s salt.

About 90 minutes from Tel-Aviv you can drive here or participate in a tour. I’ve always gone independently so I can’t recommend a tour, but I did find this site that looks comprehensive.

http://www.deadseaguide.com


Food!

Isreal Shakshuka Food

In Israel almost every gathering is around food and drink, so be prepared to eat.

A personal favorite of mine is eggplant and pita with tahini, OMG. Basic, but delicious. Look out for the traditional egg dish “Shakshuka” as well as brekkie and snack favorite “bourekas” (puff stuffed pastry.)

Hit Tapas restaurant and bar Vicky-Cristina located in the“Tachana” shopping center,  a very cool converted train station. Although they don’t serve such traditional Israeli food the vibe is awesome and the restaurant is built around the oldest tree in Tel Aviv. Reservations recommended (you can do so here), casual attire. Open until late.

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[Above: A kosher Mcdonalds in Israel.]


There’s so much more to love about Israel, and not enough paper on the page!

For now, happy travels.

Love,

Laura

See more at: www.livinglauralittle.com