In this latest series, I will be going through all the countries I’ve travelled to from my personal experience. In this article, we will be covering country #7: Israel. If you haven’t gotten a chance already, read this story first to find out why I’m trying to visit all 193 UN-recognized countries.
Israel is a country that I was very much interested in visiting due to its historical significance. It’s a country that’s been fought over by so many nations for as long as mankind has been around. This is due to the country having sacred religious importance to Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
Before I left to travel for my 380 days of travel around the world, I wanted to go to Israel as my first country during my journey. I know that this area of the world usually have problems. However, back in 2016, the conflict seems to have subsided. This gave me the idea to go and travel there before any conflict arises again.
VIDEO – Country #7: Israel Part 1 – Tel Aviv
Israel Video Part 2 – Jerusalem
Israel Video Part 3 – Masada and Dead Sea
Articles I wrote about Israel
- Ready Set Go – Kendrick’s Round the World Adventure Begins!
- Exploring the Modern City of Tel Aviv and the Old Port City of Jaffa
- My First Terrible Hostel Experience – Jerusalem
- How to Travel to the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem In One Day
- The Church of Nativity – Visiting the Birthplace of Jesus Christ
- Masada – The Citadel of Mass Jewish Suicide
- Dying in the Dead Sea
- My 6 Days Complete Israel Travel Spending Breakdown
After saving up money for over one year, it was finally time to leave Canada to go on my first one year around the world journey.
For some reason, I slept fine the night before. It wasn’t until the next day that anxiety hit me that I’m really leaving to travel for one year. Many thoughts flooded my head. Was I making the right decision? After all, I quit my stable day job to make this big trip happen. Am I now committing career suicide?
Will I be safe? I’m weird because I’m actually more worried about having my stuff stolen than being physically harmed.
Well, there’s no sense of overthinking this now.
My youngest sister, Eunice, was driving myself and Karen to the airport.
Before long, we arrived at the airport and I’m now at the point of no return. After getting through security, Karen helped me repack my backpack because it was a complete mess. While I’m talented at earning points and miles, the simple act of organizing my backpack proved to be a bigger challenge. Shortly after, we heard the PA announcement to board for the flight leaving Vancouver.
Flying to Israel
To reach Israel, Karen and myself would be connecting through the Toronto airport. Our flight arrived late so we had to gun it to reach our connecting flight going to Turkey. We couldn’t believe how big Toronto airport was and it took us a while before we reached the gate. By the time we reached our gate, we were dead exhausted from the mad sprint that we just did.
Boarding the plane was also chaotic. I soon learned that many Middle East people don’t really follow boarding and landing protocols. Many of them open the overhead compartment while the plane is taking off or landing. It’s really crazy and also entertaining at the same time. At the very least, Turkish Airlines was a good plane to fly in.
When we landed in Istanbul, we had a long-ish layover so we had to navigate our way around the airport. At this time, they still had the old Istanbul airport and the air circulation in the airport was extremely poor. Karen and I felt dizzy many times.
By the time we flew out of Istanbul and landed in Tel-Aviv, we felt barely alive.
Going through the Tel Aviv immigration was quick enough. We hailed a cab to take us to our hotel. I knew we got ripped off by our cab but we were too tired to care. Our hotel mentioned we only got ripped off by a little bit and he’s heard worst.
Karen and I passed out really quickly that evening.
After breakfast, the next day, Karen and I proceeded to explore the Tel-Aviv coastline. It was a beautiful beach and kind of felt like Miami. We saw tons of really fit people exercising outdoors. It’s quite fascinating that Tel Aviv is actually very modern and quite image-oriented.
As we walked right beside the beach, we got a chance to enjoy the coastline despite being heavily jet-lagged.
Before long, we arrived at Old Jaffa. Jaffa is a very old port dating up to 7500 BCE. The port was used as a strategic military position as well as a merchant port.
Upon arrival, some locals started joking around with us. Some even tried photo bombing us when Karen and myself tried taking pictures.
We explored the streets of this old port and not once did we feel unsafe.
That evening, my sisters also arrived in Israel and we explored Old Jaffa together the next morning.
After we were done with Tel Aviv, the next segment of our trip to Israel would take us to Jerusalem. The journey to Jerusalem was quite fun as we took the local transport to take us to the bus station. The locals in Tel Aviv were quite helpful and they helped us with directions.
The bus ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was quite enjoyable as well as we peered out of the window and just observed the landscape of Israel. Upon reaching Jerusalem, we took the metro that would take us near our accommodation.
Our accommodation was called the Post Hostel and the check-in process was a nightmare. We waited for a long time due to the mistakes the staff made with the booking process. When we finally got situated, we were all over the place and my bag locker was actually broken.
There was also a French guy in our dorm that was quite rude to everyone (except to me, for some reason he was friendly towards me). We were too exhausted to do any exploring that evening and just relaxed.
Old City (Jerusalem)
The next day, our goal was to visit the Old City in Jerusalem and find someone that can take us to Bethlehem. We joined a city walking tour and to be honest, it was quite terrible. The guy doing the tour was an American guy who appeared to be drunk.
We eventually ran off from the tour and did our own exploration which turned out to be a great decision. Our first destination was to see the famous Western Wall. I was actually stupid when we went here and I accidentally went to the women’s side. In the wall, we took some papers, made a wish and stuck it between the cracks of the wall.
One thing we noticed was that the Jewish people in the Old City of Jerusalem were definitely not friendly and they scorned us or attempted to scam us many times. This was a huge difference to the friendly Jewish people we met while we were in Tel Aviv. The Muslims in the Old City were actually very friendly, gave us a good deal on food and treated us really well.
After our exploration of the Old City was done, we went to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Here, we found a driver that would take us to Bethlehem in Palestine so we can see the Church of Nativity where Jesus was born.
Going to the Church of Nativity was actually my favourite part of my trip to Israel. I’ll be covering this in more detail in another blog post.
The next day, we hired the same driver who took us to Palestine to take us to see Masada and the Dead Sea. Masada is a citadel on top of this mountain and my god, the sheer number of Chinese and Korean tourists that visited this place was overwhelming! Nothing annoys me more than seeing a bus full of tourists get unloaded and they swarm a tourist destination.
We did our best to avoid the crowds and enjoy visiting this place by walking far away from the tourist swarm.
Here, we learned that Masada is a citadel where many Jews committed suicide instead of being captured by their enemies.
I can’t say I enjoyed my time in the Dead Sea. While the Dead Sea is absolutely beautiful, it was also painful to swim in it. I had some cuts and they were stinging badly when I went into the water. Not to mention the water can get in your eyes which also hurts a lot. The sun was also scorching hot at nearly 40 degrees Celsius in arid weather. I felt like my skin was going to be burned off.
I was so happy when we finally left the Dead Sea and called it a day. Looking in hindsight, Dead Sea is a good place to take pictures but not for swimming.
The next day, we would be crossing from Israel to go to Jordan.
My experience in Israel was definitely mixed. I personally liked Tel Aviv minus the expensive prices. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed Jerusalem but I certainly don’t regret visiting it to see all the amazing historical sites with religious significance. And quite honestly, my favourite part during my entire trip to Israel has got to be my side trip into Bethlehem in Palestine.