As summer has just come to a close, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the past few sunny months and asking myself how in the world did it go by THAT fast?! One highlight that stands out without question was my trip to Israel. A close friend of mine had her wedding there so to kick the summer off, I boarded a plane, by myself, for an appointment with a beautiful – and conflicted – country, praying that God would meet me there. It’s an ironic request, I know. At that time, I was wrestling with some things in my life and knew in my soul going away and experiencing the Holy Land, a new culture (with delicious food might I add!) and the celebration of a wonderful marriage would be just what I needed. And it was.
Should you ever find yourself heading to Tel Aviv, here are a few things I’d recommend based on my time there.
- Spend a day exploring Neve Tzedek. From cobblestone streets to charming cafes and shops, this was one of my favorite days in Tel Aviv. I had the most amazing lunch at Beccafico (I still dream about the bread and caprese salad…oh my word!) and took so. many. pictures. because the design of this quaint Italian joint was perfection. The boutiques in Neve Tzedek are worth flying to Tel Aviv for. Seriously.
- Take at least a full-day trip to Jerusalem. My regret is actually having not stayed a couple of days and nights there. As a Christian, this was a profound experience. I hired a tour guide and while it was pricey, there is no question it was worth every penny. To have someone explain to you exact locations of where Jesus was and where his ministry took place and major milestones from the bible was priceless.
- Take a day trip to Mt. Masada. One of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions, this landmark, overlooking the Dead Sea, is where Herod the Great built palaces for himself and where the end of the Jewish-Roman war took place.
- After your Mt. Masada exploration, float in the Dead Sea, covered in mud and all. As the Dead Sea is predicted to, well, die, given the rate at which its dropping is more than a meter a year, this is a must. Note: it’s packed with tourists and loads of kids on birthright. So it’s not the most pleasant experience because of the crowds (at least when I was there), but I still recommend doing it.
- Look down. The floors, everywhere, are stunning. In the restaurants, in the old city in Jerusalem, in churches, in cafes. The design and beauty of the tiles are worth taking many shoe selfies.
- Spend a few hours doing nothing but relaxing at Gordon Beach. Or frankly, any of the beaches in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is one of the few cities that is both an urban adventure and a beach oasis so take advantage of both!
- Stroll along Rothschild boulevard. You will hit a few neighborhoods, find great people watching and enjoy all kinds of delicious restaurants and cafes. I spent one morning at Rothschild 12 where I enjoyed breakfast, journaling and relaxation. It was perfect. I also encountered the best bread basket ever at Dada & Da so I’d say it’s worth having lunch there for sure. #itsallaboutthebread
- Eat loads and loads of falafel and hummus and shwarma and salads. Everyone has an opinion of “the best place to eat hummus” and the like. There may be truth to some of that. But be safe, try a bunch and establish your own opinion 🙂 One of my favorites was in the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem and it was called Abu Shukri. But don’t take my word for it…taste for yourself 😉
- Pray. Pray. And pray more. I found myself praying often and just thanking God, even in the midst of this awful crisis we are in all across the globe.