I've been to Israel twice now. First time I did an extensive trip all over the country with friends in a rental car. Second time I just visited Jerusalem
and Jaffa (near Tel Aviv
), staying with friends. It is a country full of contrasts. From the Arab and Jewish market areas in Jerusalem, to the Arab part of the same city, to the Wall where men and women pray on different sides, to the Garden where Jesus was betrayed into the hands of the Romans...and then on to the many towns and cities and sights up and down this beautiful country. Masada is quite the place. Situated south east from Jerusalem you should go and indulge in the incredible history of this place.
View from a garden overlooking the Sea of Galilee
See the excavations. The view from the top is wonderful. You are also by the Dead Sea, so can indulge in the mud and salt and water! I loved the north of the country as it seemed more lush, especially around Capernaum
on the Sea of Galilee
. There is a boat in a sort of museum further round to the west side of the lake, that is hundreds and hundreds of years old. It was discovered by two brothers I believe and had to be excavated very, very carefully so as not to destroy it, it was that old. It went through all sorts of processes to restore the wood so that it wouldn't just turn to dust. It had been sitting in the mud and water for centuries.
Beautiful garden in the grounds of a church near Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee
Amazing. The temple in Capernaum is quite something too, although it isn't the one that was around when Jesus was. That one was destroyed and this one was built at a later date on the same site. A personal moment for me was seeing a sculpture about 9-10 feet high, of St Francis of Assisi in the entrance way to the temple area. He is looking up to the sky with this incredible expression of longing and yet contentment, at the same time. He seems consumed with God. It it stunning. The sculptor has captured something that transcends just the skill of his workmanship. I really liked Jaffa too, in the west, on the sea, south of Tel Aviv. This used to be called Joppa. It is very old with lots of walks and places to roam, with great views along the long stretch of beach (miles long) to Tel Aviv and it's high-rises. I met a guy while looking at the view who ended up showing me around and then invited me to have a meal with him. He was a very interesting chap and knew so much about the area. SO GO! Visit Israel. You can find out those cities or areas best avoided and the rest is up for grabs! Oh, make sure you visit Yadvashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. It is a place that everyone should see and contemplate. There are some incredibly evocative sculptures around the grounds too. Amazing.