I just got back from the best ten days of my life. I just got back from my trip to Israel on Birthright. I saw things I never thought I would see, met people I can't believe I ever lived without and learned things I will never forget. Each day was a new adventure that I want to share.
Day 1: Friday
This was the longest day of my life. As you may or may not know Israeli's a good 11 hour flight. My flight took off at 10 am so I had to wake up at 4 am but I was so hype for this trip I went to bed at 3 am the night before. Horrible mistake. We landed in Tel Aviv at 4 am and we started our journey. First we went to Caesarea to pick up the most amazing Israeli soldiers ever and we all went to Caesarea national park and saw beautiful views of the mediterranean sea, an old amphitheater and other beautiful buildings in the park. We were then fed the most disgusting sandwiches I’ve ever had but looking back now, it is a great memory and a huge joke with my bus. After lunch we took a long drive to Mt. Arbel. This isn’t just any regular mountain - we made the mistake of thinking it was. We got to the edge of this mountain and were all enjoying the view when our tour guide, Nimrod, told us “Okay, let's go down!” there were ropes and metal bars to help us scale the mountain! We thought he was crazy but it was actually one of my favorite things on the trip! After that insane experience we went to the beautiful city of Tzfat and the Old City of Safed. We got to walk around and learn a lot about that city and shortly after we made the trip to the north of Israel, Manera, where we spent our first night in a Kibbutz.
Day 2: Saturday
Saturday means Shabbat so we couldn't really go anywhere because we couldn't use the bus. At the Kibbutz we were staying at there was a cable bar that brought us all the way down to this cool place where there were trampolines and an awesome roller coaster. The roller coaster wasn't upside down, it was just a little car on a track but it was so much fun! We were looking out on the Manera Cliff and the view was just amazing. We went back up to where we were staying and we listen to a geopolitical speaker which was actually more interesting than it sounds. Shabbat soon came to a close and we were allowed to drive again so we went to the Nehemia mall for dinner. After dinner we went back to the Kibbutz, hung out and that concluded day 2.
Day 3: Sunday
On Sunday we, of course, woke up early again and drove to Haifa. My trip was full of multi cultural aspects. In Haifa we visited the Stella Maris Monastery and wel as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. We learned about their cultures and how they live in Israel. We also visited the Baha’i Gardens. It was a beautiful overlook of gardens and a little town at the bottom. Next we drove to the Carmel Center where I had the best falafel in my life, it was so delicious. After lunch we went down to the jordan river were me and 5 other people went basically white water rafting, but they call it kayaking, down the river. That was an entire adventure in itself. Long story short, I am not kidding when i say, I almost died twice. After rafting we went back to the Kibbutz in Manera and spent the night all together.
Day 4: Monday
On Monday we woke up and went to a small village called Jisr az-Zarga. It is the poorest village in Israel. Here we walked around for a little bit and got to see how beautiful it was. We then went into the high school and talked with a few of the students about them and what they are doing and hope to do in the future. Once we left the village we visited one of our soldiers military base. We got to speak to soldiers in the base and learn about what they do and see some really cool things that they do. Upon leaving the base we started our way to my favorite city, Tel Aviv. We got there relatively early and got to enjoy a night out. We spent all night in Tel Aviv together just having fun.
Day 5: Tuesday
On Tuesday we started our day by going to the beach in Tel Aviv. After our short time at the beach we went to Neve Tzedek. We had a scavenger hunt around the town to learn about the town and see it. Once we all finished our scavenger hunt we went to HaCarmel Market. At the market there were all types of food and a lot of shopping. Once our time finished at the market we went over to Independence hall and learned all about the history of Tel Aviv. After we learned about Tel Aviv we got back on the bus and headed to our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 6: Wednesday
On Wednesday we spent all day in Jerusalem. We started in The Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and went to the Western Wall. We got to see a beautiful view of the city and we put notes in the wall. After the wall we went to the Mahane Yehuda Market and got an amazing hummus lunch. Once we finished with lunch we made our way to Mt. Herzl, the military cemetery, and our soldiers put on a beautiful ceremony. This experience was extremely moving and was a very saddening experience. We then went back to our hotel and hung out as a group.
Day 7: Thursday
On Thursday we started out our day in a sad way. We went to Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial museum and the children's memorial. The things I experienced, saw and read were things I never thought I would. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Once we got through the museums we went to Market Beit HaKerem and walked around and got a quick lunch. After lunch we drove to the Negev desert to stay at the Bedouin Tents where we got to ride camels. I took an awesome selfie with the camel. It was such a cool experience.
Day 8: Friday
On Friday we woke up at 4 am and started our journey to Mt. Masada. We hiked all the way to the top and saw the most amazing sunrise. Once the sun was up we explored the mountain. We went to The Byzantine Church, The Northern Palace, and The Western Palace where we saw the walls and buildings that have been there for hundreds of years. We then hiked all the way down to the bottom, which was somehow a lot more difficult than walking up, and started our way to the Dead sea. This is the lowest point in the world, the salt levels are extremely high. Don't even think about going swimming if you have a cut. All you do it float. It’s basically impossible to drown in the sea, it is so cool. After the dead sea we made our way to Gvulot where we spent the next three nights.
Day 9: Saturday
On Saturday it was shabbat again so we spent the day at our Kibbutz. There was a pool there so we spent most of the day hanging out at the pool. Once shabbat was done we went to Be’er Sheva. Once there we went to this really big mall and got dinner and walked around for a while. We left the mall kind of early so we could go back to the Kibbutz and go to the pub. We spent all night at the pub hanging out together.
Day 10: Sunday
On Sunday, our last official day together, we went to the JNF indoor playground. It was a bomb shelter where little kids came and played. If something ever happened in that town they had exactly 15 seconds to get to a shelter. We got to spend a little time playing with the kids and they were some of the happiest kids i've ever seen. Once we left the shelter we got lunch and we all accepted that it was our last falafel and it was extremely sad. It was especially sad because we knew that once we finished our lunch it was time to drop off our soldiers. These were some of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to give. We met these people 10 days ago but they were a part of our family. After the extremely sad goodbye we gave to our soldiers we visited these old underground caves. In the middle of exploring the caves all the lights inside went out which made it an even cooler experience. Once we found our way out of the cave we went to the edge of the Gaza Strip and saw right into the heart of Gaza. After hearing a little about Gaza we got back on the bus and headed to the hotel for our last night together.
Day 11: Monday
To start off the day we all went in a room together and reflected on the past ten days. Once we all said on final words we drove to an outdoor mall near the airport to do last minute shopping and get lunch before the flight. It was soon time to head to the airport and head home. Once we got to the airport we had to say goodbye to the people who were extending and we headed into customs, boarded the plane, and headed back to the US.
I miss that amazing country so much. I learned more than I ever thought I would and fell in love with this amazing country. My bus became really close and we made memories that I will never forget. I can't wait to go back someday soon.