Of all the cities I’ve visited, none was more stunning or astonishing as Tel Aviv. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, and contrary to popular believe, it is a hip, chic and vibrant city. Another avid traveler once called it the ‘South Beach’ of the Middle East.
We touched down around 2pm to the long lines in customs. Upon entry, you have an option to get an entry stamp on your passport or on an arrival form. I requested and filled out the arrival form, which was stamped and returned. Getting from the airport to the hotel was pretty easy; I took the train to the city center and a taxi to the hotel. This took approximately 45 minutes, which I thought was pretty good during rush hour.
After settling in, I took a stroll down the famous Allenby Street (the busiest street) in Tel Aviv. Here, one experienced a
regular Monday evening as the sun was beginning to set. I saw the locals, shops, flea market, etc. Just before the sun went down, I crossed over to Banana beach where I witnessed one of the most spectacular sunsets I had ever seen.
I had breakfast as early as 6:30am because the tour bus arrived at precisely 7:15am (as scheduled). Today’s agenda: a tour of both Jerusalem and the Dead Sea – approximately 10 hours. The drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was about 50 minutes. Here, we saw the old city, walked the last path, and visited the western (wailing) wall. It also included a visit to the church of the Holy Sepulchre. I couldn’t help but marvel at the sights and sounds of this destination filled with both ancient and modern wonders. Neither did I expect the spirituality of the tour.
Next stop was the Dead Sea, supposedly the lowest part of the earth at about 418 meters below sea level. This water body was bordered by both Israel and Jordan, it is said to be the saltiest water body, and also rich in sulfur. Here, most people covered themselves with mud from the sea, floated and bathed in the sea. One had to be cautious of letting the water get into
your eyes or mouth.
By the time we got back to Tel Aviv, it was already dark. I had dinner and retired early to my room. Of course I was a bit exhausted from all the walking I did during the day.
I decided to do some self – exploration on the last day in Tel Aviv. It was a beautiful sunny day, in the mid-70s. Armed with my sunglasses and my DSLR camera, I headed straight to the beach. One word: Gorgeous. I fell in love with the
Mediterranean Sea. Its deep blue color, gentle waves and a great view of Jaffa city. I walked along the beach path, taking numerous pictures.