A Taste of Tel Aviv: Sibling Trip 4.0

Merry Xmas From the beaches of Tel Aviv, Israel - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Downtown Tel Aviv from our balcony - Tel Aviv, Israel - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Downtown Tel Aviv from our balcony – Tel Aviv, Israel – by Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps – www.MissMaps.com

“We’re going to Israel!”
“What?”
“We decided to spend winter break in Israel instead of Romania”
“…Is it safe? Is it smart?” … “Are you crazy?”

Maybe crazy. Maybe not. You never know how something will end up until you try. And this trip was begging us for a chance. It was time to commence Sibling Trip 4.0: A Taste of the Middle East.

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After deciding against  reuniting in Romania and spending Christmas there, we both managed to find decent flights to Tel Aviv, Ben flying from his home in France and me from my previous stay in Bucharest. Given that the trip was a last-minute decision, we had a lot of planning to do and little time to do it. We knew we’d like to spend more time in Jerusalem, less time in Tel Aviv, and try our hardest to journey East to neighboring Jordan so that Ben could visit (and I could revisit!) the wonders of Petra.

We’d debated booking a tour of the country from a company which arranged accommodations and transportation for 7 days / 6 nights. The itinerary we’d found on TourRadar was perfect for what we wanted, as it included all of these details and more. When I started number crunching (the exact point where being a math teacher and budget traveler intersect), I realized that we could follow the itinerary provided, book our own transportation and housing along the way, and do it at a fraction of the cost.

Scouring available apartments from AirBNB, finding transportation through Israel’s main public bus line, Egged, and loads more research… and we were set! In just ten days time, from when we booked our flights to when we stepped on dusty yellow Israeli soil, we filled our itinerary with plans neither of us could fathom coming to fruition. We were so excited and couldn’t believe we’d be spending Christmas Eve in Bethlehem or New Years in Petra. We’d soon be walking the same path of Jesus, visiting the tomb of Mary, climbing Mount Zion and dipping our toes in the Red Sea and the Dead Sea.

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During the ten days that passed from when we booked the flight and when we left, we’d grown increasingly nervous about the entrance and exit formalities.

Horror stories of long lines and endless questions at border control stations entering Israel left us apprehensive and cautious. Included in our itinerary, I emailed Ben notes of “what to say at the airport.”

Such as:
–Be confident – be calm – don’t get flustered about anything. It’s not necessarily the safest or easiest place to travel so remain calm and confident always.
–Clear your phone of anything – I don’t know  – anything that could ever have them question you? Like… erase this email haha

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Turns out, there was nothing to be worried about. Only once did border control agents try to belittle us, their harsh tones asking about profession, relationships, religion and politics. Other than that, we were nearly swept off our feet at the borders, arriving and leaving with little delay. And the time they decided to pull Ben into their office wondering why an American living in France was walking across the border from Jordan to Israel (sounds a little questionable to even you, doesn’t it?), it was done so after passing through a room with twenty two perfectly hung photographs: seven of them featuring President Bill Clinton’s smiling face. Not so scary after all.

Israel treated us well. Spending time in this historically controversial country was an impeccable way to end 2015. In fact, I feel the two weeks spent here is nowhere near enough time and tis the season right about now, as the sun shines daily and the temperature hovers between 10 and 20 degrees celsius. Perfect light sweater weather. Perfect winter holiday. Perfectly executed Sibling Trip 4.0!

Brother Sister Camel Selfie - Tel Aviv Israel - Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Brother Sister Christmas Camel Selfie – Tel Aviv Israel – Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps – www.MissMaps.com

 

There are more stories to come, don’t worry! In the meantime, cure your curiosity about our other Sibling Trips? Check out a video of Sibling Trip 3.0, when we visited Spain, Germany and Scandinavia last summer!

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2 Comments

  1. Just stumbled on your blog (through a facebook group that you posted something in) and it really does look like you had an exceptional trip in Israel! All in all, it’s definitely one of the most complex, yet rewarding, countries to visit in I think. I was also there a few weeks ago, covered most of Tel-Aviv Jaffa and Jerusalem (luckily I had great home-bases at both cities; in TLV a friend’s house right in the center of the city, and in Jerusalem I stayed in a terrific hostel called The Post Hostel which was literally walking distance from everything that I wanted to see). Great experience, I’m glad to see more people allow themselves to not be brainwashed by the media and deny themselves the opportunity to visit such a great country.

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