The vacation of a lifetime

The vacation of a lifetime

Visiting Israel had been on my mind for a long time. I had always wanted to explore, understand and experience the many interesting aspects of the country. So when I decided to embark upon my journey, my Israeli friends — Yair and Vardith — who are also my mentors in scuba diving planned the trip well for me. I started from Jerusalem, a heritage city that holds an enormous religious significance to Jews, Christians and Arabs.

A walk through the old city of Jerusalem is like a time warp where you can experience 2000 years of history. The new Jerusalem is an example of world-class infrastructure, high quality public transport and amazing security.

The food in Jerusalem consists of Mediterranean culinary delights. The combination of falafel and grapefruit juice, available everywhere, is simply delicious. One can also savour a variety of cheese here along with their delicious vegetable and fresh fruit salads. Jerusalem also has cafes that offer traditional sweets of Persian and Turkish origin.

Visiting the Dead Sea was one of my missions. Located 1400 ft below sea level, it is the lowest point on earth. Earlier, I had been on an altitude of 17800 ft in Ladakh. So Dead Sea was the other extreme for me. The next day, I had the opportunity to visit Jerico which is the oldest city in the world and has been around for 3000 years! It is also the lowest city in the world today at 800 ft below sea level. 

The tough part of my visit was getting the scuba diving certification from the Red Sea resort city of ‘Eilat’. The crystal clear waters and enchanting marine life of the Red Sea make it one of the best diving sites. Eilat is not just a scuba diver’s paradise but also a vibrant and exotic holiday destination.  

Climbing to the top of ‘Masada’, a natural fort and shouting out, ‘Masada will never fall again’, was the next task on my agenda. This is what the Israeli commandos do after graduation as ‘Masada’ is a symbol of supreme sacrifice for Israelis. Visiting places of historical significance like Bethlehem, Baptism site at Jordan River, the house from where Jesus was arrested at the Mount of Olives, Capernaum, the city of Jesus and King Herod’s palace at Caesarea was so exhilarating that I drifted away from the present.

The visit to an agro exhibition at Tel Aviv was an eye-opener. The best of Israeli agro tech was on display here. Tel Aviv is a model city whose practices are worth emulating. I also wanted to visit a Druze village. Druze is a religion which is known for harmonious integration and peaceful co-existence. A significant number of Druze soldiers serve in the Israeli army. The Druze cuisine is a new trend that foodies around the world follow.

Hence, my Israeli friends organised a meeting with a Druze leader and a Druze lunch thereafter for me. Every time I think about that meeting, I still get positive vibes. My experience in Israel was not just amazing but also inspiring. To sum it up, the two weeks that I spent there was the vacation of a lifetime.   

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