If you’re in the north of Israel and in need of some cooling pools and true chillout time, head to the Gan HaShlosha National Park, believed by many to be the biblical Garden of Eden!
It’s a little off-the-beaten-track for many tourists, but well worth the drive if you can squeeze it into your itinerary! Just come early to avoid the hordes of locals and the hassle of finding somewhere shady and relatively secluded…
OK, so if you’ve checked out most of the top things to see and do in Israel and you’re here during the long summer months, we can highly recommend a visit to Gan HaShlosha (also known as the Sachne). It might just be the ultimate chillout time for you (and your family), especially if you time it right and don’t choose a weekend (the park works on a first-come first-served basis in peak season because it will get busy).
Set within a national park, the main attraction of Gan HaShlosha is, of course, its refreshing clear water pools that remain at 28°C throughout the year, thanks to their supply from a natural spring. Be aware that the main pool is deceptively deep, especially in the middle (some 5 meters deep), so take that into consideration with the littl’uns. But the other waterfalls and streams are perfect for almost everybody – check out the video at the bottom of the post for an idea of what to expect at Gan HaShlosha.
The area around the pools is covered in lawns, palm trees and other beautiful greenery. You can also find an archaeology museum (which includes Greek tools from the Bet Shean valley, plus Egyptian and Persian artifacts), and the remains of an ancient stockade at Gan HaShlosha (read on below).
Gan HaShlosha: a fascinating history
Without a doubt, this park in the Lower Galilee is truly one of Israel’s most beautiful parks. Legend even has it that the area is, in fact, the site of the biblical Garden of Eden as described in the book of Genesis!
Also of more recent interest is that the first Jewish pioneers of the 1930s erected the tower and stockade settlement of Tel Amal in a single night, back in December 1936. The tower and some of the original buildings have been restored in the park, allowing visitors to see something of what life would have been like for those who lived there.
When to visit Gan Sachne (Gan Hashlosha)
July and August are peak Israeli holiday season and Gan Sachne is always going to be crowded. The really good news is that no matter what the outside temperature is, the spring-fed water in the pools is always a guaranteed 28°C. Springtime and early autumn are ideal for visiting (April through May and October till November), especially on weekdays.
Getting to the park early will ensure that you get a good spot close to the pools. Even in the “off-season”, Fridays and Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath) are likely to be busy with locals.
How to get to Gan HaShlosha
As it is only a 10-minute drive off road 669 between the Hashita junction and Beit She’an, you could always stop off at Mount Gilboa for a spot of sightseeing and then spend a relaxing day in the pools at Gan HaShlosha. See the map below for directions…
Gan HaShlosha opening times
April to September: 8 am to 5 pm
October to March: 8 am to 4 pm
Note that the park closes one hour earlier on Fridays and holiday evenings and the last entry is always one hour before the park’s closing time.
Entrance Fees: (2019 prices) Adults 39 shekels, children up to the age of 14 – 24 shekels. Note that if you are a member of the National Parks (see their website for details on subscribing), you’ll get in for half price.
And finally, to give you a taste of what to expect at Gan HaShlosha (yes, it will get crowded during peak season, so get there early)…
GAN HASHLOSHA National Park - SAHNE - ISRAEL - YouTube
For those of you into the ol’ wellness and motivation gurus, hold on to your hats! The one and only Tony Robbins is coming to Israel in October!
The event will take place at the Menora Arena in Tel Aviv on October 4, 2019 (just in time for peak Jewish holiday season!). It’s Tony Robbins’ first ever official visit here in the Holy Land, but you’re going to have to pay through your noses for the privilege – tickets start at 900 shekels a pop! For ticket info, click here.
Tony is, of course, a global super guru, and is regarded as the World’s #1 Business and Life Strategist with many many celebs under his guidance, including Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey. His LIVE shows have been attended by some 4 million people!
You know you want to go – here’s a taster of what to expect from our Tony…
TONY ROBBINS | 30 Minutes for the NEXT 30 Years of Your LIFE - YouTube
The legendary and never-aging Lionel Richie is performing a concert in Israel this September!
The concert will be Lionel’s first ever gig in the Holy Land – all we can say is what took you so long fella! The concert itself takes place at the Live Park Arena in Rishon Letzion ( a few minutes drive south of Tel Aviv) on September 12.
Tickets start from 395 shekels – if you fancy getting a little more up close and personal, tickets are going for 1500 shekels a pop. For additional ticket info, call *8780.
Expect to hear the classics, including Lady, Truly, Say You Say Me, Hello and All Night Long! Here’s a slice of what the old boy can do for your eardrums…
Lionel Richie - All Night Long (Live - HD) - YouTube
Well, summer’s here and the heat is on (big time here in the Holy Land!), so time to dig out those Speedo trunks and the Itsy Bitsy bikini and to explore the very best beaches in Israel…
We’ve gone to great lengths to explore the best beaches Israel has to offer. And we can tell you that it’s really no fun having to lie in the sun, lather up with sunscreen, have a quick dip in a glistening, refreshing Med/Red/Dead Sea, and cool off with ice-cream…
So here they are, in no particular order, the best beaches in Israel…
Tel Aviv Beach
Of all the beaches in Israel this is the first one you’re more than likely to feel the sand between your toes on…Tel Aviv beach is actually a collection of smaller beaches, most of which are just off the bustling city streets, and each of which has its own unique character and clientele.
For example, if you’re looking for a family beach, try Jerusalem Beach or the more northern Tzuk (Cliff) Beach; if you’re looking for some eye candy, head to Gordon or Metzitzim; and if you’re looking for a gay-friendly spot, head to Hilton Beach. Be prepared to fall in love – but not on a Saturday when it becomes very crowded.
Free to access (except for some of the more northern beaches). For more about Tel Aviv’s beaches, read our full guide.
Dor HaBonim Beach
Dor HaBonim beach on the northern part of Israel’s Mediterranean coastline is one of our favorite beaches (we even crowned it The Best Beach In Israel). It’s one of the best kept secrets in the Holy Land, and also a little off the beaten track as part of a nature reserve, hence it’s not usually crowded.
Dor HaBonim has a beautiful stretch of sandy beach, with a well protected lagoon, which makes it a good option if you have small children. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike along the coast a bit further north to check out the natural sandy banks and rock pools.
Small entrance fee to the main beach – or for an even more secluded part of HaBonim beach read more here.
If you’re looking to head up north along Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, there are actually two beaches at Achziv that will fight for your beach towel’s attention.
The first is Banana Beach, on the road north just after Nahariya. Here there is a great stretch of sand, with a nice restaurant and bar usually open til late. The second beach is just a bit further north on the road to Rosh HaNikra and is run by the National Parks Authority. Here the beach is a little less refined for beach-goers, but has some great pools and rocky coast to explore.
It costs a few shekels to enter each beach, more if you intend on camping overnight. Read more here.
Just 30 minutes drive north from Tel Aviv lie the gorgeous white sands of Aqueduct Beach in Caesarea, the perfect beach for those of you who love a real slice of history with your sunscreen.
That history comes in the form of Roman ruins that form part of a raised aqueduct first built by King Herod in the first century BCE. Today the beach is a beautiful strip of sand, and you can usually find a nice, quiet spot. The lack of crowds and noise is slightly countered by the lack of real facilities; there is no restaurant /bar here, and lifeguards are not on station on all parts of the beach. But in our opinion that all adds to its character and makes Aqueduct Beach a must-have addition to your beach list.
Free to access.
Migdalor Beach, Eilat
Some beach connoisseurs might head down to Eilat for the more known Coral Beach or Dolphin Reef (where you can even swim with the dolphins), or even the city hotels on the hotel strip, but this little gem is a little more hardcore (don’t expect “fancy”).
Israel’s southernmost beach, Migdalor beach is only 2 km away from the border with Egypt, and probably one of the quietest beaches as a result. Here you can find some of the best snorkeling in Israel (see the clip below), with amazing coral and awesome colorful fish. This place is perfect for getting up early, spotting some sea snakes, grabbing a light snack or a cold one, and kicking back to some chillout tunes.
About 15 minutes drive from Eilat city center, Migdalor Beach is free to access.
Snorkel in Eilat - YouTube
Beit Yannai Beach
Beit Yannai beach is considered by many to be one of Israel’s very best beaches. It’s a big hit with those prepared to travel out of Tel Aviv (about 20 minutes), and also those who love to kite surf.
It’s a gorgeous beach, usually kept very clean, and usually quiet, probably due to the fact that it’s run by the Israel Parks and Nature Authority. You can camp overnight, and there are fairly decent facilities, including showers and restaurants.
Also worth catching are the eucalyptus grove and ancient ruins nearby. Entrance fee per car (23 shekels at the time of writing this article); for more details call 09-8666230.
Ein Bokek, Dead Sea
If you’re looking to get re-energized and perhaps even do some floating in the Dead Sea, the beach at Ein Bokek is one of Israel’s best!
OK, it’s not quite off-the-beaten-track enough, and especially since it got revamped recently, but if you’re going to head to the Dead Sea, this is one of your best bets – and it’s FREE to access (just so you know, other Dead Sea beaches at Ein Gedi and the Mineral beach are no longer open due to sink holes)!
To get there, if you’re heading south down Road 90 (coming from Jerusalem/Tel Aviv/the North), you’re basically looking to reach the southern end of the big hotel strip at Ein Bokek (don’t worry, you won’t miss it!).
En Gev Beach
Last but not least on our list of the best beaches in Israel is Ein Gev beach, located on the eastern (and quieter) shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The Sea of Galilee is different from the rest of Israel in that the water is fresh, rather than salty (and extremely salty in the Dead Sea). Certainly not as crystal clear as some of the other beaches listed above, Ein Gev beach is still a great beach to visit, especially at sunset, when the sun sinks behind the city of Tiberias and the atmosphere turns almost spiritual!
It does cost a few shekels to get in, but the facilities included are great…as well as lawns that stretch almost to the water’s edge, there is access to the famed fish restaurant, lifeguards, lockers, and BBQ areas.
On a serious note: TWO things to watch out for on Israel’s best beaches
Enjoying the best beaches in Israel is great fun, but we wouldn’t be your responsible and ever-knowledgeable Israel gurus if we didn’t give out a couple of warnings…
Listen to the lifeguard!
Those glistening, rippling waves may be too hard to resist, but some of Israel’s seas are known for some scary undercurrents, and many people end up drowning when ignoring the lifeguard. Our advice: If a lifeguard is on duty, listen (he’ll probably be barking out orders)…AND just be careful out there – mother nature is a powerful beast!
Watch out for the paddleballers!
On almost every Israeli beach, but certainly more so in Tel Aviv, you’ll find paddleball players. Known as Matkot in Hebrew, this game of beach tennis may well infuriate you after a bit: either thanks to the thud, thud, thud of the ball as it’s hit, or because of the lack of respect for others on the beach…
We know Tel Aviv and know it pretty darned well, old chap…so when people complain to us about parking, and getting around in The City That Never Sleeps, we get the feels for ya, really we do.
Which is why we feel the new ride-sharing service Bubble deserves a mention. Yes, yes, a ride-sharing service for getting around in Tel Aviv!
Bubble is actually a service run by the Dan bus company and Israeli smart ride-sharing company Via. It provides adapted timetables and routes that are adjusted according to real-time demand so that the most convenient route for passengers is created. Its main purpose in life is to offer a cost-effective solution to often very expensive taxis and erratic bus lines. That’s pretty bloody good, if you ask me.
And just so you know, some 20,000 users signed up for use in its first month (April 2019). Definitely one to start considering!
But how do you use Bubble?
Download the app here. Though somebody should have told them that “B o” isn’t the nicest-smelling logo they could have come up with…
You’ll be picked up from the bus stop closest to your home, and yes, the route will be faster than the bus, although perhaps slightly different to the typical bus route.
Expect to pay at least 12 shekels per journey and 15 shekels during peak times (06.30-09.30 and 15:00-18:30). Senior citizens will get 50% off! You can also buy a block of ten rides in advance for 120 shekels. Payment is through the app itself – there’s no need to worry about buying tickets on the Bubble minibuses.
When you visit Israel and squeeze in as many of those must-see sites you can into your precious few days here, don’t forget to add a quick stopover in Jordan to your trip! The amazing Lost City of Petra is a relatively quick hop over the border, and combined with the stunning desert of Wadi Rum, and the ancient Roman ruins of Jerash, you won’t be sorry you added a tour to Jordan to your Israel vacation/trip!
After many years dreaming of visiting Petra myself, I recently joined a 3-day tour to Jordan with Abraham Tours, taking my 11-year-old son along for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ve summed up the tour below with plenty of pictures, just to entice you over too!
Day 1: Crossing the border, Jerash, and Amman
It’s an early start if you want to catch a tour to Jordan!
The tours run by Abraham Tours actually run from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (there are 2-day and 3-day options from both cities), so set that alarm clock early, baby (we’re talking 6 am departure)! We joined the tour at Beit Shean (if you are staying in the north of Israel this is an alternative pickup point, which saves you from trekking down to Tel Aviv/Jerusalem), before heading to the Sheikh Hussein border crossing down the road.
This is probably the easiest crossing to do, with visas available for most nationalities and which can be obtained easily at the border; prior permits are not needed except for restricted nationalities (click here for details on getting to Petra from Israel, or check with the guys at Abraham Tours, they’re extremely knowledgeable about these border crossings). By the way, if you have dual citizenship that includes an Israeli passport as well as a foreign passport, this is also easily doable, just make sure you get BOTH passports stamped on the Israeli side, before moving to the Jordanian side of the border.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the border crossing was a piece of cake, and the transfer from Israeli mini-bus to Jordanian guide and driver as smooth as a bar of Cadbury’s Galaxy…
Once snugly settled in our Jordanian minibus (by the way, we were a mix of English, Germans, Dutch, Polish, French-Canadians, and Swiss), our guide Emad explained a little about the day ahead, while providing some great initial insights into the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We stopped for some tea at his hilltop abode, a great place overlooking some magnificent views, before continuing on to Jerash.
What can I say about Jerash, other than WOW…
This ancient Roman city is one of the biggest and best-preserved set of Greco-Roman ruins in the world, and it’s pretty darned impressive! From the hugely imposing 2nd-century Hadrian’s Arch, which is your main entry point to the site (see below), to the temple of Zeus and ancient Roman theater (expect to see bagpipe-playing Jordanian soldiers wowing the crowds), there’s an over-abundance of ancient sites within this old walled city! I was just amazed that some of the pillars and buildings were still standing in all their glory, despite two earthquakes and plenty of wars in the region!
Jerash, Jordan - Bagpipes! - YouTube
You could probably spend all day at Jerash, marveling at all that history, but when you’ve only got 3 days to see the best of Jordan, it’s time to move on! After a quick and very decent lunch in a local restaurant (note that on this tour all the meals are included – if you want a beer or additional drinks, you have to pay more), we were back in our minibus and on our way to the capital of Jordan, Amman.
Amman is around 50km south of Jerash, so we were there in an hour or so. The drive through rush-hour downtown traffic made it a little longer, but it was great to see the streets of Amman in action!
We made it to The Citadel, one of the seven ancient hills that originally made up the city of Amman (which now encompasses 19 hills, which includes a population of some 4 million!). As the sun was descending, and a few clouds still lingered in the sky, the weather was perfect for taking in some of the stunning views of the city (it was also late March, probably the best time of year to visit Jordan). And after a quick visit to the museum at The Citadel and the Umayyad Palace, we were soon on our way again – including a quick pit stop in downtown Amman for some local Knaifeh (a Middle Eastern delicacy, also found in the Arab cities of Israel).
Next destination, and where we were going to sleep for the next 2 nights – Petra!
After around 3 hours drive, we finally made it to the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp, just outside Petra, at around 9 pm. With lights strewn across the pitch-black mountains which sit alongside the camp – which got a “Wowwww” from all the minibus – this was an enchanting start! After checking into our 2 man Bedouin tent with very comfy beds, it was time for a late dinner, some sweet tea, and some touristy conversation in the main Bedouin tent…
One word of warning for you taking a tour to Jordan at this time of year – sites in the desert get bloody FREEZING at night, so bring some warm clothes!
After a quick and tasty breakfast in the morning desert sun, we were soon headed to the main site of Petra (a quick 10 minute drive from our camp). Once in – and after receiving plenty of warnings about the leech-like operators trying to get you to take a carriage ride or ride horseback – we trekked down towards The Siq, the amazing narrow rocky mountain path that leads to The Treasury. Stunning scenery, simply one of those places you have to see in the flesh and forget about everything you ever saw on YouTube…
When you finally wind your way through The Siq, the path suddenly opens up into a wide open space and there before you is one of the true wonders of the world – The Treasury! Take a moment to let the awe sink in. And then take another moment. And then sit down and soak in the feeling. Don’t forget to pull your camera out and take some shots, because who knows when you’ll be back at this wonder!
Walking to The Treasury at Petra, Jordan - YouTube
And yes, don’t forget, Petra is where this happened…
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Ending Scene - YouTube
From The Treasury you can choose to continue on through the park to other sites like The Monastery. Or, if you have a sick kid burning up with a fever, you could head back to the camp! At this point, we have to give a big thanks to the driver of our minibus, who took us to find a local pharmacy, and then transported us back to the camp.
At times like these, not understanding a word of Arabic, it was reassuring to have someone help us out. So if you were wondering if it was worth taking an organized group tour – and frankly I hate being part of a group – yes, a group tour to Jordan is an awesome way to see the Kingdom, especially when life pops up its ugly head at the most inconvenient time! You can, of course, arrange to visit Jordan all on your own, and you may well save some money doing it. But sometimes it ain’t a bad thing to let someone else take responsibility for all the hassle, especially when you know you’re getting a good deal anyway.
The others in our group continued on, but upon their return to the camp later in the afternoon, I was a little happier to hear that we’d seen probably the best Petra had to offer, meaning The Treasury was probably the most beautiful and inspiring part of Petra. My son had a chance to rest and eat and consume some medicine, and was soon back on his feet and raring to go.
And go we did (almost all of the minibus), back to the town center of Petra, and more specifically, to the Cave Bar, a great little touristy bar serving some local beer, and a tasty hot chocolate that had my son drooling. After that, it was back to the camp for dinner, some more sweet tea, and some Bedouin drumming to get us in the groove for a good night’s sleep. Before dropping off, I have to mention the camp hosts here, who I thought were terrific; they also worried about my son and how he was feeling, and constantly offered to make some special herb tea for him. Bless ’em!
Day 3: Wadi Rum and back to Israel
With a 2-3 hour drive down to Wadi Rum on the schedule, we had to eat breakfast early and set off fairly sharpish (around 7:45). The drive itself was fairly uneventful, apart from a great pitstop along the way, where we snapped up some souvenirs, topped up our water supply, and took some glorious shots of some amazing desert valleys.
Upon arriving at Wadi Rum, we were greeted by what looked like a scene from Mad Max. Scores of old Toyota pickups were strewn across the desert landscape before us in what made for a very photogenic scene. And before long, it was us piled into the back of 3 of those pickups, roaring through the amazing desert vistas!
4x4ing in the Wadi Rum Desert! - YouTube
Familiar with the deserts of Israel, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed quite as much as I was with Wadi Rum! It’s also easy to see why so many films are made here (including the Oscar-winning Lawrence of Arabia, Red Planet, The Martian, and Transformers) – the landscape is out of this world!
One of our first stops was at a giant sand dune, which had my son racing up it like a pro – obviously, the fever had passed and he was right as rain again! From the top of the dune, there were some majestic views to take in, while my son was more interested in running and rolling back down again!
From there, we continued on through the desert, having to stop for a pack of wild camels that crossed our path. Another moment to truly savor!
We then headed to the spot where Lawrence of Arabia set up camp, a heck of an impressive spot! Of course, there’s now the obligatory Bedouin camp there, selling bits and pieces and serving up some sweet tea! After that we headed to our final point where we settled in for lunch, topped off with a legendary Jordanian dessert known as Um Ali (a sweet, milky, bready pudding kind of dish – very tasty!).
Once we’d stuffed ourselves silly, it was time to head back to the border with Israel, the most painful part of the trip – a SIX-hour drive! But coupled with our guide Emad’s efforts to get us all singing some Arabic songs, the drive went fairly quickly.
It wasn’t long before the twinkling lights of Israel could be seen from beyond the waters of the Dead Sea (on the Jordanian side of the sea), and we were soon crossing the border at the Allenby crossing. This time the crossing was probably even smoother than the crossing at Beit Shean/Sheikh Hussein, and any worries I had about the two passports I was carrying, were completely out of place. The Allenby crossing also seemed a lot newer and organized (at least on the Israeli side), and it wasn’t long before my son and I were on a bus home heading northwards.
The other members of our minibus continued on to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with a bus supplied by Abraham Tours, just in case you were wondering.
In Summary: book that tour to Petra/Jordan!
This was an awesome trip, one that I’ll never forget! It was actually harder than I imagined, largely due to the distances we covered over the 3 days, and also having to worry about my kid. But I can highly recommend it, and if you’re looking for an excellent tour, head straight to the Petra tours run by Abraham Tours. They were very professional, answered all the questions I had (pre-tour), and seem to have teamed up with some excellent people in Jordan. And we wouldn’t recommend just anybody for you lot, so trust us, they are the guys to go with!
If you’re on the fence about a trip to Jordan (what, after reading the above???), get off the fence and BOOK THAT TOUR!
Related: See our full catalog of Tours in Israel for additional awesome destinations!
In celebration of Israel’s upcoming 71st birthday, we’ve come up with a little list of signs that you’ve spent too long in Israel.
We originally wrote this list as a series of posts a while back, but have remixed and edited the list in honor of the old lady reaching the big 7-1.
Yes, just a little humor for those of you who have spent a little longer than a week’s holiday here in Israel, and who have in fact made Israel their home. And feel free to add any more to the list in the comments below!
In no particular order…
1 …you no longer wait in line, but go immediately to the head of the queue “just to ask a question”.
2 …you either start supporting Brazil or wear a Messi shirt during a World Cup.
3 …you start advising your host how to cook his/her barbeque meat.
4 …open spaces make you nervous.
5 …you’re in a lift (elevator) and don’t even notice the guy yelling into his mobile phone.
6 …you still know all the words (and moves) to “Toy”, Israel’s Eurovision 2018 song by Netta AND love the 2019 entry by Kobi Marimi (OMG, you have some serious issues!).
7 …you add “-ush” (pronounced “oosh”) to as many words as possible – Instagram becomes Instush, your friend Tal becomes Talush, and your dear friend becomes Mamush (regardless of their real name).
8 …you no longer gawp at petite army girls with huge M-16s strapped to their backs.
9 …someone says ‘snack’, you think: nuts OR watermelon.
10 …you can’t tell the difference between a Goldstar and a Tuborg.
11 …you forget what “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me” mean.
12 …you have an amusing army anecdote and weren’t even in the army.
13 …you know where the nearest bomb shelter is located – and that it will be probably locked if you ever need it.
14 …you think nothing about queuing to get into a coffee bar.
15 …your second sentence upon meeting someone is “How much did it cost?”
16 …you use HaShahar chocolate spread in copious amounts – in a pita.
17 …you queue for yeasty products once Pessach (Passover) breaks.
18 …you find state-employees helpful, knowledgeable and friendly.
19 …you start to enjoy shoddy service and make repeat visits to a place where you are repeatedly shafted.
20 …you wear flip flops to weddings.
21 …you no longer laugh at the name Guy Penis.
22 …you shout up from the street at a friend living on the fifth floor.
23 …matkot (beach tennis) is your main form of exercise.
24 …you talk wayyyy louder than is necessary.
25 …you feel the need to express yourself in a conversation with wild hand gestures.
26 …you use the “rega” hand sign (thumb meets fingers in upwards motion) at least twice a day.
27 …all tourists look the same to you.
28 …you hear Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ in August and don’t even flinch.
29 …your annual Christmas party is held on Friday night (who cares what day Christmas actually falls on…).
30 …you no longer bitch about paying 350 shekels or more for a concert by an “international” has-been.
31 …you think nothing of eating in the street, humus dribbling down your chin.
32 …you can’t put a proper sentence together in your native language.
33 …you aren’t aware that one is supposed to pay for software.
34 …a PhD in Nuclear Physics fluent in 4 languages is sweeping the streets outside your house for a pittance but he is from the Ukraine so it’s all right.
35 …you use the word “Nu” at least 10 times when listening to a friend’s story.
36 …you no longer ask yourself why there are so many fancy jeeps in this country.
37 …you can swear fluently in Arabic.
38 …your family stops asking when you’ll be coming back.
39 …you regard traffic signals, stop signs, and indicator levers with equal disdain.
40 …you slow down when passing traffic accidents, just to wince – and make sure there isn’t any blood and guts on the road.
41 …you sense somebody is trying to move their car into your lane in front of you, so you put your foot down and close that gap baby!
42 …when trying to find parking, you send your passenger to stand in a space while you turn the car around.
43 …you forget that the other person needs to finish speaking before you can start.
44 …you arrive 30 minutes late for a meeting but still manage to beat the other meeting attendees.
45 …you ask how much people are making and expect people to answer.
46 …you are the last of your original group of friends still in Israel.
47 …your idea of a larger home is an extra 4 square meters.
48 …it’s 30 degrees outside but it’s late September, so you refuse to go to the beach.
49 …you buy a thick winter coat on October 1st.
50 …you wear your new winter coat on October 2nd, whatever the weather.
51 …you hear the word “Winter” and instinctively want a Krembo.
52 …you buy a car and leave the plastic wrapping on your new car’s seats.
53 …knives and forks feel, well, strange.
54 …you hear a “smash”, you automatically shout “Mazal Tov!”
55 …you no longer laugh at the angles of scaffolding on buildings.
56 …you wear body hugging t-shirts to show off your love handles.
57 …you know enough Hebrew to make Israelis laugh their socks off.
58 …you’ve killed at least 100 cockroaches with your favorite ‘killing’ shoe.
59 …you look at the local women/men and start fantasizing about Scandinavian women/men.
60 …you’ve seen Midnight Express, Hair and The Princess Bride at least 5 times each.
61 …you know the words to “Hotel California”.
62 …you start bragging about Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest track record.
63 …you shorten supermarket to ‘super’.
64 …you’re presented with a bowl of sunflower seeds and think “yummy”.
65 …you consult your English dictionary far more than your Hebrew dictionary.
66 …you start a blog or website or Facebook group about Israel.
67 …you get addicted to Israeli chocolate (oh my, you’re in deep…).
68 …you start your day with a cup of coffee known as “mud”.
69 …your “local” is not a pub, it’s a hummus bar.
70 …you think nothing of buying milk in bags.
71 …you can come up with 71 solid signs you’ve been here too long. Oh…
Independence Day in Israel, known as Yom Ha’atzmaut in Hebrew, celebrates Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. It’s a day of fun, picnics, BBQ food, and parties. And lots of blue and white flags everywhere!
The day itself comes immediately after the heart-tugging emotions felt through the previous 24 hours for Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), as Israel remembers its fallen throughout its short history (though Israel has only been around since 1948 the list of fallen servicemen sadly grows ever longer). It might seem a little strange, celebrating immediately after you’ve been struggling to hold back the tears just hours earlier, but this is one of those special Israel moments, and it works. Would it work anywhere else in the world? Probably not.
So Independence Day turns those previous 24 hours of pain into a celebration of its existence, an existence based on the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel by Israel’s future first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion on 14 May 1948. This declaration came just hours before the official end of the British Mandate of Palestine, and while the state was recognized by many countries, Israel’s friendly Arab neighbors weren’t too keen on the idea, and declared war. The rest is, of course, history.
Official celebrations for Independence Day in Israel are usually centered in Jerusalem, and include an official Independence Eve shindig on Mount Herzl, which is usually shown live on Israeli TV. Other events on Independence Day Eve are everywhere, and there are some great parties to watch out for, especially in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Keep an eye out on our site or Facebook page as we usually try and give a quick rundown of the best places to be.
The day itself is full of other official events, but what will probably interest most Israelis is the mangal celebrations – the barbeque (mangal is Hebrew for grill)! Holidays in Israel are typically centered around food, and Independence Day is no exception.
And what about the other citizens of Israel – do they join in the Independence Day celebrations?
Well, some Arab citizens celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut but many refer to it as al-Nakba (the catastrophe), a tragic day in their history. Typically the Druze, Bedouin and Circassians, who often serve in the Israeli army, do celebrate Independence Day. What might seem surprising is the ultra-religious Jews, who join their Arab brethren in mourning, and often wear ashes and sackcloth, and have even been spotted burning Israeli flags…
If you do get caught up in some wild Independence Day celebrations, don’t forget to wish Israel a Happy Birthday!
The Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah as it’s known in Hebrew, is a sombre commemoration of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. As is usual with Jewish holidays, it starts in the evening and continues throughout the following day.
As you can imagine, it’s a holiday taken seriously in the Holy Land. There is a state ceremony at Vad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Museum on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, and at 10:00 am the following day, air-raid sirens wail their eerie wail for two minutes throughout Israel. During this siren, people stop what they are doing and stand at attention; cars stop, even on the highways, and the whole country comes to a standstill as people pay silent tribute to the dead.
Cafes, restaurants and places of public entertainment are closed by law on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Israeli television airs Holocaust documentaries and Holocaust-related movies (Schindlers List has become the annual fixture, accompanied by The Pianist, two very powerful movies of course and well recommended if you still haven’t seen them) and the latest thumping tunes are taken off the airwaves and replaced by low-key songs.
Not being Jewish, I quite possibly don’t connect emotionally to this day as others obviously do in Israel, but after being here so long it’s kind of filtered through to my soul. Listening to that wailing siren as all those around you stop and reflect, it’s almost impossible not to have images of Holocaust victims and heroic tales flash through your mind. I’ve also seen the numbers tattooed on survivor’s arms and heard tales that send the shivers down your back, whatever your faith.
Let’s hope no other nation or people has to go through something like this ever again.
Some 1.14 million tourists visited Israel in the first quarter of 2019 – that’s a hefty increase of 14% over last year’s same quarter!
The Central Bureau of Statistics are now estimating that tourism to Israel in 2019 will hit some 4.7 million visitors. That’s a pretty hefty hike up from 2018’s record breaking year (4.12 million tourists – which in turn was a hike up on 2017’s record breaking year!).