2010 Travels: Best Surprise

by Chris on December 29, 2010

Best travel surprise of 2010? The diversity of Israel as a vacation and holiday destination.

Israel, Jerusalem, Dome of the Rock

Out of a travel schedule that included two sailing cruises in the Caribbean, two trips to Europe, one long weekend in Mexico, and time exploring cool new regions in the U.S. (Hocking Hills, I’m looking at you!), I’ll always remember 2010 as the year when I first went to the Middle East – and fell in love with Israel.

Israel, Dead See, the Dead Sea,

It really shouldn’t have been such a surprise. After all, I love history and studying world religions, even if I don’t practice any. Israel is a perfect vacation choice for people who are interested in both.

Israel, Temple Mount, Wailing Wall, Western Wall, Jerusalem

But I wasn’t expecting to be as moved by the stories of my youth and the echoes of recognition that I had when I walked through Holy Land sites such as Jerusalem and Galilee. Turns out I picked up more Biblical history during those years of Sunday School than I thought – and seeing those sites in person stirred my emotions.

Israel, Bauhaus, Tel Aviv

I was also struck by the diversity of Israeli tourism. I loved that it only took a few hours to drive from the bustling Bauhaus buildings of modern Tel Aviv to the ancient cliffs of Masada. One day I was dipping my toes in the Sea of Galilee, the next I was floating in the excessively salty water of the Dead Sea. If you crave variety, Israel’s a perfect vacation spot.

Israel, Masada

I can’t wait to go back and explore more. And next time, I’ll rent my own car and set my own itinerary (my trip came courtesy of the Israel Board of Tourism). Traveling there felt that safe to me.

Israel, best hummus

If you want to read more about my 10 day trip – which included the search for the perfect hummus – check out these posts on Israel.

Did you fall in love with a destination in 2010 that surprised you? Tell me about it in the comments!

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy Wells December 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Abroad, Berlin blew me away. I was prepared not to like it but the energy, enthusiasm and joie de vivre of East Berlin’s young inhabitants won me over.

At home, Lexington is one of the most delightful cities I’ve visited in a long time. Was bound to like it because of the Thoroughbreds but its Southern charm sealed the deal.

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Julia Ross December 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Chris- glad to hear you enjoyed your trip but I’m wondering what you thought of Jerusalem in particular.

I was in Israel and the West Bank for 6 weeks in 2008, for work. I enjoyed Tel Aviv but Jersualem was a different story. I felt persistent tension during my stay there, and the checkpoint in Bethlehem ranks as one of the most depressing sites I’ve seen in my travels. I also traveled daily through the checkpoints from East Jerusalem to Ramallah — a real eye-opener.

Actually, the highlight for me was hearing the call to prayer for the first time in person. Beautiful.

Glad I experienced it, but no desire to go back.

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Chris December 30, 2010 at 11:41 am

Julia – It’s funny that you mention Jerusalem. Being a history buff, I thought it would be the highlight of my trip, Yet for some reason, it wasn’t – and I didn’t spend time going through checkpoints on the West Bank. I didn’t feel outright tension as much as a sense of fervor – coming from all the religious groups represented there – that made me uneasy.

Seven months later, I still have yet to write about Jerusalem for that reason. I’m not sure if that’s depressing per se, but it definitely felt different than what I experienced elsewhere in Israel.

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Jane January 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Never thought of Israel as a tour spot, looks like I have to consider it. Nice share.

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