Fun Times in Israel
Out of all the things I expected from my recent trip to Israel (culture, religion, spirituality, history, connections), extreme fun was not on the list!! I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover just how much fun our trip would be. From the minute you get off the plane in Tel Aviv, there are a million exciting activities to choose from.
Sometimes we got to get dressed up and go out on the town
Party time with my girls in Jerusalem
Visiting an outdoor dance club with the group
We spent a lot of time in the desert, which is less barren than you might think. I visited my first kibbutz (more on that later), but also got to spend the night in a Bedouin camp. Bedouins are Arab nomads who live in the desert. The changes in borders in the Middle East in the last hundred years never really took into account their lifestyles, which is apparently becoming harder to sustain. Governments pressure them to modernize, resulting in many urbanizing or moving into small villages.
Sandy photo- this is the inside of a bedouin tent
The bedouin tents we slept in- Negev Desert
Dance party at the Bedouin settlement with a live band
I think it is great that Birthright takes groups to visit the Negev Desert, ride camels, and see Bedouin settlements, because it displays how diverse Israel is. Israel is not just large Jewish communities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; there is diversity and tolerance and acceptance in practice everywhere. According to Wikipedia, there might be 160,000 Bedouins in Israel alone!
Bedouin style dinner
Riding camels around the Negev
I wanted to kick our camel in the side and run off gallopping into the horizon
This guy got LITERALLY SAT ON BY A CAMEL.
This photo is him conquering his fears.
There was much more fun to be had outside of the Bedouin tents as well. We got to explore traditional Israeli markets, or shooks, in a few different places in Jerusalem. This was surprisingly not that different from the artisan markets in Ecuador, except for a plethora of belly dance costumes.
Shook in Jerusalem
Photo Credit: ©JaredSherbert
Indoor local market in Jerusalem
Higher end market: art galleries, wine shops, jewelry stores
I noticed a really great art scene as we were exploring Israel. On Birthright, you don’t really have a lot of free time because of all of the mandatory group activites, but the minute we had an hour or two to ourselves, I would break off and wander in and out of the art galleries.
Various art galleries in Tsfat
One of the most fun things we did on our trip was visit the Dead Sea. Because of the low altitude, UV rays get filtered out and sunburns are rare. Also, because of the 34% salinity, you have to be super careful in the water. You float without trying, in fact, if you try to go underwater, it pushes you back up! Cuts will sting really badly and visitors are advised not to shave for a few days before visiting.
Getting dirty in the Dead Sea
The mountains surrounding the Dead Sea are gorgeous
Bobbing around in the water
Part of the fun at the Dead Sea was smothering ourselves in mud, letting it soak in, and then running into the water to rinse it all out. I ruined my favorite bathing suit doing this, but it was so worth it. We also went river rafting, but there are no surviving photos. Who knew you could go river rafting in Israel?! Near the Dead Sea, there was a beautiful hike with waterfalls and pools along the way. That was one of my favorite activities of the entire trip.
Hiking along a stream to the Dead Sea
With some of my group on a waterfall hike
Much needed chilly water in 120 weather!