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Israel: Top 5 Impressions

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I’ve spent the last 10 days exploring Israel, and here are the top 5 impressions & memories I’m taking away with me:

  1. Israelis are industrious! It’s amazing to see the amount of infrastructure, high-tech agriculture, and development in such a young country. The highway system, the tunnels, the water-efficient farms, the high-rises, the businesses, the inventions… it makes me wonder what a place like Peru could do – which has terrible infrastructure, bumpy roads, poor schools, etc., but rich in resources – with strong leadership…
  2. Israel has amazing swimming spots! All have been extraordinarily lovely and a most pleasant surprise. The Sea of Galilee, aka Kinneret, may have been my favorite – a warm freshwater lake with a sandy bottom. Or maybe the turquoise, floaty Dead Sea. No, the wavy Mediterranean, with its pink sunsets… ah, probably it was the desert oasis of Ein Gedi, a series of waterfalls flowing into refreshingly cool pools under soft green fauna.
  3. Food! As expected, fantastic Mediterranean food with a kosher twist. Amazing falafel! Hummus! Yogurts of every strain! Pizza with garlic sauce! Even Asian-influenced stir fries, in a pita! And bakeries at every turn, causing my dad to stop our tourist stride every 10 meters for inspection.
  4. Jerusalem: it’s going on my world “must-visit” list, the list I will give my kids of places to see in their lifetimes. An assault on all of the senses, the most ancient blending with the most modern, a costume parade of the devout, a one-day crash course in world religions, history, archeology, politics, culture, and traditions. Completely overwhelming and unforgettable.
  5. In Israel, there is no such thing as ancient history. What happened in the past affects life today in a very real and tangible way. Even archeological digs of the end of the Second Temple Era – around 70 CE – have a direct impact on the daily lives of Israelis, as it furthers the “we were here first” contentions that can make or break a nation.

It’s an amazing country for being so small. I have such a better understanding of Middle East politics and border issues now than ever before, having had a first-hand tour of the Jordanian and Syrian borders, the Golan Heights, even some of the Bedouin areas of the south. On the news it’s all suicide bombings and rockets. On the ground, you know what? It’s regular people who just want to live their lives, take a picnic with their family, and celebrate their holidays in peace. And so far in our travels, that’s been the biggest common denominator across cultures and countries.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Monday, October 10, 2011 8:08 am

    Land seems greater than it is – contrasting geography and cities; do not get into traffic jam in Jerusalem as streets are or were not designed for today’s big cars and buses; article well summarizes status quo – Dad

  2. Susan Graf permalink
    Monday, October 10, 2011 1:15 pm

    A great article, Kristen. After reading it I’ve put Israel on my list of places to visit.

    Susan

  3. Jen permalink
    Monday, October 10, 2011 7:08 pm

    I can’t believe you were in Israel over Yom Kippur, how amazing! So glad you enjoyed it so much, I had a lot of your same impressions. L’Shana Tova! :0)

  4. Marina permalink
    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 10:55 pm

    🙂

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