Traveling to Tel Aviv to meet friends during Easter a few years ago, we made a stop in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, as well as traveling through the West Bank with a Palestinian driver.
This was a trip that made great impact on me, for several reasons, as explained partly below. In this post, I will tell you about six memories from this trip I wouldn’t be without.
The city and capital of Israel, that contains so much history, so many holy sights, so much debate and disagreements between people and religion. This is also a city of great importance to several religions. It is simply not possible to visit Israel without a stop in Jerusalem.
Church of Nativity in Bethlehem
A Unesco World Heritage Site, listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger. The Church of Nativity sits on top of the Grotto, where one believes Jesus of Nazareth was born. The original basilica was completed in 339, but later destroyed in a fire. More than 200 years later, a new basilica was built, and later on, further additions was made to the church.
Driving through the West Bank
We met with a Palestinian driver who offered to take us through the West Bank, stopping first in Bethlehem, and then showing us some sights and explaining about the conflict on our way to Tel Aviv. All though this of course represented his point of view on the conflict, all he had to do was show us. And yes, we saw.
Western Wall and the check points
Driving through the West Bank, on our way to Tel Aviv, we got to see several checkpoints. We also got to see children playing, militant guards, images and graffiti. And it made it even more difficult for me to understand how this wall still exist, separates, and how the people living next to each other are so divided, and that this wall also functions as a symbol of an even deeper conflict.
Tel Aviv – a fun food city
This is where we met up with friends, stationed elsewhere in the Middle East at the time. Tel Aviv is like a miniature of New York and Barcelona mixed together; it is fun, there is sun, there is cafés, shops and restaurants. There are boutique hotels, trendy bars and a beach to hang out at.
Not to mention the completely different atmosphere there is here, to the one found in Jerusalem and on the other side of the wall, just a short drive away. Tel Aviv is where people come to party, to relax, and to not think about war or differences. This is also where the military come to wind down, when on a break.
Jaffa – graffiti and sightseeing
Jaffa used to be a town outside of Tel Aviv. Today, it is more of a suburb, and you can reach it by foot. We spent a few hours there, just walking around, drinking orange juice, checking out the graffiti and people watching.