Sunday, 20 July 2014

ISRAEL. TEL AVIV, DEAD SEA AND EIN GEDI. SO DIFFERENT FROM THE MEDIA IMAGE

Floating in Dead Sea
December 2013

Israelis are if not the most, one of top 3 most hated nationalites for travellers. I remember in South America even seeing signs in front of hostels "NO ISRAELIS"! They are usually pretty young, travelling in big groups and knowing nothing about life, sharing and respect to others. It is understandable considering that the majority do their gap year after the army, so they never shared flats, studied and travelled before. And 3 years in the Israeli army (2 for girls) could be quite exhausting (in any possible sense). That´s why I didn´t have big expectations from the country or at least the people. And that was my biggest surprise! Everyone is so nice, despite the religion and colour, also very generous and helpful!
Everything started at my arrival at the airport. After being questioned for a while about all the visas to Muslim countries I had in my passport (with an emphasis on Iran of course!), I was given a piece of paper with Israeli visa on it. They are nice enough not to put a stamp in your passport and make you forget about your future visits to other countries in the Middle East. 

It was almost 1 am when I was finally out and called my host Indie who came to pick me up. He even borrowed a car from a friend in order to pick me up (there are no buses that late)! So nice of him! I had so many questions about Israel and luckily Indie didn´t mind answering any of them! 
My host Indie is vegan as many Israelis. I am not but I loved the breakfast :)
TEL AVIV
Tel Aviv reminded me of Barcelona! Beaches, street bars and cafes, host of young people…I roamed the streets, tried local food, enjoyed the homey atmosphere. I was surprised how good the food is, all the veggies and fruits are local produce (even bananas) and were really tasty. Don´t even wanna mention the bread and hummus.
I also met up with my good friend Petra who now lives in Israel and another guy from Couch surfing. But since my time in Israel was limited, I had to get moving.
First sight of the beach....and a full moon
The beach in Tel Aviv
Jaffa is the southern, oldest part of Tel Aviv, an ancient port city in Israel
Jaffa at night
The ancient port of Jaffa
Luckily everyone speaks English :)






Apparently everything grows in Israel
Dead Sea. Ein Gedi kibbutz.



Dead sea is between Palestine and Israel to the west, and Jordan to the east. And it is Earth’s lowest elevation on land, 420m below sea level. It is second saltiest body of water after lake Asal in Djibuti. It is 9 times saltier than the Meditarrenian sea. You really can not sink…
There is only one rule: only float on your back and don’t try to swim normally (stomach first). The most popular photo is holding a newspaper while floating.  I wasn’t an exception J. Didint cover my body with mud though (only because didn’t have time!). 


Since hitchhiking was so organized in Israel and buses so slow,  I decided to go to Dead sea  that way. My CS host in Jerasulem Shakar said he wanted to join me. We had a ride with quite of few cars and all possible kinds – Arabs, extreme Jewish Orthodox, not religious Jews … We got to a point that Shakar was translating for me and asking our driver (an young Arab Israeli) whether he minds that he (Shakar as a Jew) is in the car…And he didn’t of course and didn’t mind answering all of my silly questions.
Shakar peeing photo in Jerusalem

We are half way to Dead sea


I guess I shouldn´t take photos of someone peeing

And of course the Dead sea…When we finally made it to the shore, it was pretty cold but I had to go inside. Changed into bikini quickly, Shahar had to do it in his underwear we jumped in. Well, not really jumping of course…surprisingly the water wasn’t cold at all…the problem is when you get out.




Shakar and I posing for the classic photo
That guy kept on reading the whole time he was in the water. Maybe he just wanted to read.
EIN GEDI
After all the fun, Shakar found himself a ride back to Jerusalem and I made my way to the kibbutz of Ein Gedi. Maybe not everyone knows what a kibbutz is so before I start I will shortly explain. Although it seems lost in the mists of time, it really isn’t so long ago that the mention of Israel did not immediately prompt the associations “occupation,” “conflict,” “terror,” or “Palestinians.” The word that popped into one’s mind when the topic of Israel came up was always “kibbutz.” Based on a measure of economic equality and cooperation between the members, a kibbutz is a collective community that was traditionally based on agriculture. Volunteering on a kibbutz is a tradition that thousands of adventurers from all over the world have undertaken from the founding of Israel until today. Today the volunteers don’t come anymore and the kibbutzim are just like any other village but the spirit stays.
Ein Gedi is by far my favourite place in Israel. And my host Gili was so warm and welcoming that I was so unhappy with myself that couldn’t stay longer. The kibbutz was so beautiful, even better than the one in Afiqim. Gil told me when the volunteers were here, Ein Gedi was full of young people from all around the world, sharing everything they have – food, work, money, music…And everyone loved that time, no matter the age.
Gil´s house in Ein Gedi
Random Russian-Israeli musicians that Gil saw in front of the house and invited for a jam session
Still with the mud from Dead sea  but she had a beautiful voice
Ein Gedi kibbutz
Veiw from Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi
They just run free in the kibbutz
Dead sea from the kibbutz
Dead sea again
I promised myself that I will be back to Israel soon and see the rest and also spend more time in Ein Gedi. I was sure that I will be back before the summer of 2014. But there is so many places that I wanna see that seems that I rather go somewhere I´ve never been before...So it still stays on the bucket list!

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