People: Other travellers were a colourful mix of deeply religious people, volunteers, students and other backpackers (not as many as expected). I did not always meet cool people to hang out with, so spent a lot of time by myself in Israel (which I’m totally fine with nowadays – my company is awesome! Lol). The locals I met every day in Israel were rather distant. Polite, but not openly welcoming, and often a bit impatient. The constant presence of security personnel is a bit unnerving if you’re not used to it too. In Palestine, people were sooo happy to see me, a tourist, visiting their cities. I heard „welcome to Palestine“ everywhere, was offered dates and bread to taste and people wanted me to take pictures of them. That being said, I do have some good friends in Israel, who were hosting me just as openly. Maybe it takes some more time for people from Israel to open up, but once you’re their friend, they will be very warm and helpful…? At least that would be my experience.
Food: I did not eat out a lot during my 2,5 weeks in Israel and Palestine due to high prices. I did have lots of hummus and falafel though, and not to forget the delicious knafeh in Nablus! Also, when I did eat out, it was usually very good quality and very nice (worth the price). There are international restaurants in all bigger cities, so I ended up having really nice Thai food in Haifa for example. As in Israeli cuisine, I enjoyed shakshuka a lot, had the best hummus of my life in Akko, the best falafel of my life in Haifa and the very damn best knafeh in Nablus (someone take me back pleaaase!).
Weather: I was very lucky with the weather. While it can usually still be a bit rainy in March, I only had 2 cooler, grey-ish days with still much better weather than snowy Europe at the same time. Mostly it was sunny and often hot, hot, hot! Wonder how it is in July…
Costs: I went to Israel on a mission to prove everyone wrong – that it is possible to travel Israel on a budget. And it is! At 41€/day I managed to stay well below my 60€/day target. This was mostly done through Couchsurfing for 7 days, staying in the cheapest available dorms on the other days, and cooking a lot for myself instead of eating out. I did not save on sightseeing and the like!
Accommodation: On average, dorm beds would cost around 20€/night with the exception of much-recommended Hebron Youth Hostel in Jerusalem. They were usually very nice, often included breakfast, but still… that much money for a dorm!?
Infrastructure: I used busses most of the time, the tram within Jerusalem and the train between Akko and Haifa. Often there was free WIFI which was nice, and generally the busses were comparable to busses at home (Austria). There are frequent delays though, especially in the North of Israel (Galilee area, Nazareth, Haifa), busses always took longer than expected, even when there were no significant traffic jams. Odd.
Illnesses: No cold for once! Happy days.
Safety: The old towns of Jerusalem and Nazareth can get a bit spooky after sunset, but I never felt unsafe. I did feel annoyed with all the security everywhere though at one point. Every day, I had to show my passport at least once, and the constant bag checks at every bus/train station, shopping center, major tourist site etc. were exhausting. I call Israel a military high-security state. I would not enjoy living like this.
Itinerary: I followed a bit of an odd-shaped circular route, seeing most major sights along the way. I felt quite rushed at times though and really had to push to manage and see everything that I wanted to see in my 2,5 weeks. Therefore, I would not recommend my itinerary to anyone with the same amount of time. Plan 3 weeks and you will enjoy it more. I would have especially liked some more time in Palestine, Golan Heights, Nazareth and Safed. I don’t have any travel regrets this time. I saw everything that was on „my list“ 🙂 Luckily, hence no reason to ever come back.
Highlight: Tricky, but I will go with Jerusalem although I did high-five myself when making it to Hexagon Pools!
Lowlight: My interrogation when leaving the country. As in places: Tiberias.
Click here to see all my pictures of Israel: