Israel has never really been on the average honeymooner’s travel list. Wrested from colonial hands and fended off from Arab invaders for years, the country that houses the much-disputed capital (holy and secular) of Jerusalem has taken a lot of guff since its inception in 1947. It’s always been in a hotly contested area, holding down prized Mediterranean waterfront, prime trade location, and an outpost of Judaica in a sea of Islamic sympathizers. It’s been a tough few decades, but things are looking up for Israel; travel agents, rejoice!
These days, there seems to be plenty to see in Israel for the secular tourist, the religious pilgrim and the business class traveler with a few hours to kill before a meeting. A cursory glance at the official Israeli tourism site shows not only traditional Jewish relics and museums, but historic Christian sites as well. A determined theology buff might attend a classic Bar or Bat Mitzvah near the resting place of the actual Dead Sea Scrolls one day, and walk in the footsteps of the Virgin Mary the next. Looking into the area more deeply, one might find the country sprinkled with monasteries in the Judean desert.
Not your cup of tea? Try walking the beaches of Tel Aviv, or take a dip in the Dead Sea, an inland, salted body of water reputed to be a natural spa. Moses’ own Red Sea features a 1,200 meter long coral reef, the scintillating colors rivaling the club-lit Soreq stalactite cavern over ground. The country is a haven for artists of all kinds, featuring more than 120 museums, as well as artist colonies in Safed, Jaffa, and Ein Hod. Even cultures out of left field are being welcomed into the fold; the Israel Museum is hosting traditional Japanese dramatic opera through November 10th in a special exhibit entitled “Crossplay: Male Actors, Female Roles in Kabuki Theatre.” Classical folk and ballet dancing are also treasured pastimes in this diverse ethnic region.
Understandably, visitors will want to bring home a souvenir or gloating present for their friends unable to take the flights to Israel. What better gift is there than Israeli wine, made since biblical times and praised by critics like Robert Parker? The Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are particularly lauded, but buyer beware- not all Israeli wines are made to be kosher.
Whether for a devout Semite connecting to his roots, or as an add-on to a stack of Europe airline tickets, Israel is a quality destination for any discerning traveler. Not only is it chock-full of cultural and leisure destinations, its cultural enrichment is literally biblical.
By falco from Pixabay