In Search of Hummus…
Israel had been a destination I had been dreaming to visit ever since I started traveling. Some friends and I even had plans to rent an apartment in Tel Aviv back in June 2012, but unfortunately due to cancellations / finances, that trip never happened. Years quickly passed, and while my travels have taken me to some of the most beautiful destinations in the world, I always had this strong desire to visit Israel.
Fortunately for me, the wonderful people over at Vibe Israel extended the invitation to this hummus addict for hands down the best media trip I’ve ever been apart of. I can’t even begin to express how incredible of an experience this week was. The entire trip was perfectly planned with unique sites, unbelievably delicious meals, and truly epic activities.
While I could have probably extended this list to 30-40 different highlights, here are my top 10 from my recent trip to Israel!
1 ) Exploring Jerusalem
A Christian, a Muslim and a Jew walk into a bar…
That’s not the beginning of a joke…that just happens everyday in Jerusalem. It’s by far one of the most unique places in the world, and it was fascinating to learn about all the significant religious sites that are found in the old town.
We also took a self-guided food tour through the Machane Yehuda Market with the BiteMojo App. I had never done anything like this before, but it was a great way to explore the market and the surrounding area. BiteMojo is one of the many exciting start-ups we discovered during our time in Israel, and would definitely recommend checking it out!
Jerusalem was the very first stop on our trip, and it really set the perfect tone for the rest of the week. We stayed at the brand new hotel called the Villa Brown Jerusalem, and while the room was extremely comfortable – the best part was actually the massive Israeli breakfast I destroyed two separate mornings. I simply ordered an omelette, but they brought out like 8 different plates. I didn’t even know where to start.
2 ) Boating & Floating on the Dead Sea
Having learned that it’s the lowest point on earth, and it’s “water” is nearly 7x saltier than the ocean, floating in the dead sea was an experience that I’ll never forget.
When I slowly entered and began floating on my back, it didn’t even feel like I was in water though. Since the Dead Sea is densely rich with salt and minerals, it has a much thicker consistency than what I was expecting. It felt as if I was bathing in a mixture of warm massage oil, water, and salt. It was extremely weird, but also a really cool sensation!
The Dead Sea is also stunning, and it was pretty awesome being out on a boat cruising along the edges admiring the different shades caused by the various minerals!
The day also wouldn’t have been complete if I hadn’t lathered myself up with a Dead Sea mud facial / body scrub.
3 ) Bedouin Camping
Next on the itinerary was making the drive out to Kfar Hanokdim for a night of bedouin hospitality. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in the desert, watched the sunset while camels walked past us, and chatted about our incredible day at a moonlit campfire. It was also really fascinating to learn about bedouin culture, and to get a better understanding of their nomadic lifestyle. It was an early night for all of us though, as we had a pretty early start the following morning!
4 ) Surprise Sunrise Hot Air Ballooning
I actually had NEVER been on hot air balloon ride before, so when our lovely trip leader Tamar surprised us with the news that we’d be soaring above the Israeli desert during sunrise, I was pretty stoked!
While there aren’t many things I would set an alarm at 3:00 A.M for, this was definitely one of them.
If you’re afraid of heights, than this probably wouldn’t be the best activity for you, as I even got a little tense as we drifted high above the miles of Israeli sand dunes. The views were simply breathtaking though, and it set the perfect tone for our adventure filled day planned by the amazing people at Kenes Tours.
5 ) Off-Roading in the Israeli Desert
As an avid adventure seeker, I must this was pretty damn cool! I’ve followed a few bloggers during their travels in Israel, but I’ve never seen anyone do this before!
We spent several hours driving these 4×4 Tomcars around the desert, some cheeky zip-lining, and even doing some yoga. SHALOM & NAMASTE.
6 ) Makhtesh Ramon
I like to call this place “the Grand Canyon of Israel”, but maybe that’s because just a couple weeks ago I finished a road-trip in Arizona. After we demolished an absolutely delicious meal at the Beresheet, we spent 20-30 minutes or so checking out this massive crater. It really is a sight you need to see to believe. If we weren’t on a time-crunch, I could have spent hours there taking different photos!
7 ) Gay Pride Tel Aviv
Hot guys, Hummus, and House Music…
Did you know that Tel Aviv is one of the most gay friendly cities in the world? One of my friends joked that there should actually be a “straight pride event”, as they are the becoming minorities in Tel Aviv. LOL.
Tel Aviv is so gay, that there’s actually 1 “official” gay bar…because basically every bar in Tel Aviv is a gay bar. That’s a little fun fact we learned on our 2-Hour “Rainbow Walking Tour” which told us all about the history of the Israeli LGBTQ community.
The Gay Pride Parade itself was absolutely fabulous! Having just experienced the Sydney Mardi Gras, I was really excited to attend another Pride event, and be surrounded by the most loving community in the world. EVERYONE was amazingly friendly, and just out there to have a good time. :-)
I also had no idea that there was a FREE MUSIC FESTIVAL after the parade had finished. Since the people at VIBE Israel hooked it up with press passes, I was able to get on stage and snap some photos.
8 ) Betzvata Dinner
Out of all the reasons I could tell you about WHY you should visit Israel, the FOOD is definitely at the top of the list.
During this entire week we were given some of the best meals I’ve eaten in my life. Seriously, Israeli food is unbelieavable. One that really stuck out to me was our experience with Betzvata!
Taken straight from their website:
“Betzavta means “together” in Hebrew. Our mission is to bring travelers and locals together, creating true friendships through a unique experience. Our hosts open their homes and invite you for a casual Israeli dinner – a great opportunity to get to know each other, find out more about Israel and share about your own home.”
It truly was a fantastic evening filled with excellent conversation with new friends, a delicious home-cooked Israeli meal, and a surprising amount of alcohol. ;-)
9 ) H-U-M-M-U-S
Haven’t you read my ABOUT ME page…? I’m undeniably addicted to hummus, and my week in Israel definitely exceeded my chick-pea expectations.
Vibe Israel took great care of me, and were constantly making sure my hummus needs were met, lol.
10 ) Vibe Israel Staff & Travel Folk
Last, but certainly not least…how could I write about Israel without mentioning the marvelous people I shared this experience with.
EVERYONE at Vibe Israel was so genuine, and they all have such a passion for what they do. It’s been an honor to not only have been invited on this tour, but also to meet the staff at Vibe Israel. I have to give a special shout-out to Tamar & Or! You’re both rock stars, and this trip would not have been the same without you.
Finally- to my fellow travelers, Tom, Alex, and Taona — A.K.A Travel Tom Tom, Modern Moto Diaries, and Viva South. I’ve got nothing but love and the utmost respect for all of you. YOU guys made this trip, and I know this isn’t the last time we’ll be meeting and traveling together. Maybe if we’re all super annoying and email VIBE everyday, we can lock down that Vibe Israel Alumni Mid-Burn Tour 2018 we’ve joked about so many times, lol.
While my original plan was to stay in Israel for another week after the tour ended, I actually had to fly to Rome to cover a music festival! So unfortunately my week in Israel wasn’t long enough to see everything the country has to offer. All I know is that this visit made a lasting impression on me, and I actually have loose plans to move to Tel Aviv for an extended period of time in the future. That’s exactly what my hilarious new friend Trisha from P.S I’m On My Way did, and she definitely doesn’t regret her decision! The culture is relaxed, the people are sexy, and the food is next level. What more could you ask for? :-)
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO ISRAEL? What were your thoughts? Favorite place? Favorite hummus joint? LET ME KNOW.
Also check out Tom’s awesome article about off the beaten path things to do in Israel!
Disclaimer: This Vibe Israel tour was intentionally void of any political discussions as to persuade our opinions on the current situation. The main focus of our trip was to showcase the beautiful parts of the country, feed us some delicious meals, and let us experience Tel Aviv Pride. For this reason, I’ve also excluded any political commentary from this article, and ideally don’t want to get into any debates about the matter!