Expectations vs. reality.
I’d hear stories about Israel that would shock me, only to speak with friends with Israeli heritage and learn that the Middle Eastern country isn’t as bad as the media depicted it. I didn’t want to blindly swallow the information fed to me by the media, so we put Israel at the top of our to-do list before departing on this world trip and ventured there with an open mind.
We flew into Tel Aviv, dumped our bags at our accommodation, then walked to the coast. And what we found was a beach city-haven — nothing like what we expected (yes, I'll admit I couldn't help but have some expectations!). Waves rolled in with the rays of the evening sun, making a surfer's paradise and forming a vista for the throng of people and dogs walking and picnicking beneath the palm trees. California vibes!
You can't go to the Middle East and not see the desert, so we organised a self-guided tour from Tel Aviv to the border of Jordan, and explored Masada National Park, Ein Gedi, and the Dead Sea. The day started with a 1AM wake-up and a 2AM bus ride to an ancient fortress on a rock plateau in Masada, where we watched the sun bloom over the mountains. After that, we hiked the dusty stone paths around Ein Gedi in search of waterfalls, meeting some friendly local wildlife, like ibex and rock hyraxes, on the way and eating authentic Israeli hummus for lunch. A float and a beer in the Dead Sea finished our day, and was almost enough to mask our crippling sleep deprivation.
The land was so different to what we expected — which was, in all honesty, a real-world Tatooine — and it really crystallised our new and informed opinions of this wondrous country.
For me, in many instances, expectations trump reality, as in my mind I tend to build places up to be faultless. For Israel, however, the media feeds us (some of us, at least) negative and inaccurate information, while the reality that Mariah and I experienced there was far more peaceful, far more beautiful. The conflicts we might see on the news are, in reality, constrained to specific areas, and do not represent the country as a whole. After our stay in Israel, I'd put it in my top three recommended countries. Whether you want to picnic on the utopian coastlines of Tel-Aviv, wander the desert, or just eat hummus till you explode, Israel has something for you, and you need only give it a chance.
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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou