Having been an avid world traveller for several years now, it is rather rare that I get anxious when travelling abroad. I’ve become quite accustomed to the standard precautions that accompany certain destinations, but once I set my sights on going to Israel and was met with some concerns from friends and family, I started to second-guess my decision.

To add to this, a quick Google image search for “Israel” did not help either. The engine spat out images of conflict, war, and weapons interspersed with the occasional photo of a historic landmark, city, or Israeli flag. It was hard to come across any photos of the long stretches of beach, ancient sites, and beautiful landscapes that categorize other tourist hotspots. Thus, I was left feeling a bit uneasy about my safety. These photos were no doubt shaping my perceptions of this country that I later came to adore.

Despite this initial reaction, I decided to go to Israel with an open mind, throwing preconceived notions out the window. I guess I wasn’t too surprised to find out that nearly all of the other travellers on my G Adventures trip encountered similar doubts. They were all met with the characteristic “are you sure it’s safe to go there?” voice of “reason.”

By no means am I saying that all is perfect in Israel, but what I can report is that I have felt safer and more welcomed there than many other places I have been. In fact, I can quite vividly recall walking the streets of Jerusalem or the boardwalks of Tel Aviv way past nightfall, not giving my safety a second thought. I can’t say the same for many other places.

Local man enjoying a drink in Akko Israel.

Local man enjoying a drink in Akko Israel.

久久中文字幕免费高清,三级在线看中文字幕完整版,中文字幕偷乱视频在线
Jerusalem at sunset.

Jerusalem at sunset.

A spiritual home to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, Israel has a palpable calmness to it. With sacred sites central to three of humanity’s major religions, I found that the most mayhem we encountered revolved around holy sites where you would find truckloads of tourists clambering to get in. I now really understand why small-group adventure travel is far and away the best route to go. I couldn’t imagine going to see these holy places with 50 other people, all vying to see the same tiny spot where Jesus may have once walked. That is pretty much as “distressing” as this trip got and I was happy to replace all those images I saw on the internet with the smiles of strangers and the wondrous beauty of the land.

Muslim quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Muslim quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Thus, it comes as no surprise, that my favourite parts of the trip were those unexpected moments spent by the sea where sunset strolls on the beach presented an opportunity to make new friends. We were greeted with smiling faces everywhere we went and were always made to feel welcome in the places we visited with the group.

Kite surfer on the beach in Akko Israel.

Kite surfer on the beach in Akko Israel.

Kids playing ball in Akko Israel.

Kids playing ball in Akko Israel.

The vast mix of religions, cultures, and sects introduced me to a wide variety of customs, traditions, and foods that each deserve their own blog post. One can’t help but leave feeling that they have barely scraped the surface of what this grand nation has to offer, including countless natural, historical, and cultural treasures. Israel is definitely one of those places that you plan on returning to – even while you’re still there.

The Israel I experienced was so far removed from the heart-rending thumbnails I had come across on the web. That’s not to discount those pictures entirely, but excessively focusing on them masks the other side of the story. It hides the warmth, the peace, and the love that is so present in everyday life there. I hope that more of these types of images make their way onto the first page of search results.

Kids fishing at sunset in Akko Israel.

Kids fishing at sunset in Akko Israel.

I feel compelled to share my own experiences through photographs, and thereby encourage people who would otherwise hesitate to go and visit for themselves. The adage “the lens through which we see the world shapes how we interpret it” speaks volumes. My lens tells a different story; a story that I hope will be told more often.

Israeli Flag.

Israeli flag.

Getting There

Take a National Geographic Journeys tour to Israel. Encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. Check out our small group trips here.

Related Trips