I was in Israel a couple years ago and was so surprised between what I thought it would be like and what it actually was.
It is a beautiful interesting country with an obvious history of turmoil.
I thought the entire place would be overly religious and strict yet I was so wrong. Culturally, it is a vibrant and expressive place. When I've spoken with numerous people about traveling to Israel it seems to often be automatically dismissed as a violent place in the middle east, but there was nothing that I ever experienced that made me feel unsafe or vulnerable any more than being a stranger in a new place. Staying away from Gaza is probably a good idea though.
Not being a religious person, I was still overwhelmed with all the history that has happened in Jerusalem. Viewing the beautiful gold structure of The Dome of The Rock is breathtaking, and getting to touch the wailing wall and place a note in its cracks is something I will never forget.
Tel Aviv is a modern metropolitan city right on the Mediterranean ocean which is gorgeous. Yet outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem there is so much to see.
Floating in the Dead Sea is one of coolest things I've ever done, you truly float! But watch out if you have any cuts, because they will sting badly. There is also lots of fun to be had giving yourself a mud treatment.
Yet I would have to say my favorite memory of Israel is spending time in the Negev desert with a Bedouin tribe. These people have learned to adapt in their harsh environments and were very welcoming. My group shared some delicious tea and a wonderful meal. Getting to ride a camel through the desert was also great yet a little uncomfortable.
Written and contributed by KateMay