The country promised
Deserts make up most of Israel, but witty people call their state the land of four seas. Why go to Israel is a rhetorical question: everyone is looking for his own.
“Where are you going? They shoot there!” – we discouraged one friend from a trip to Israel. The conversation took place in October 2000, when the political situation in the Middle East sharply worsened and it seemed that a war was about to begin. But a friend was not timid. She went to Israel every year, for five years in a row, and was not going to change her habit. There is a category of people (nationality does not play a role here): once having visited Israel, they become fans of this country. The threats of terrorist attacks do not scare them – on the contrary, this is included in the price of the permit, increases adrenaline.
Two weeks later, our friend returned unharmed and happy. Is it dangerous to go to Israel now – everyone decides for himself. In the end, if you look only at CNN, then you will not want to walk along the Moscow streets.
The indisputable advantage of Israel (which you will probably all hear about in any tour bureau) is that it’s not boring to rest there. Our trip took a week. During this time, we traveled the whole country from south to north – from Eilat to Tiberias, spent two days in Jerusalem and completed the journey to Tel Aviv. The landscape outside the car window changed like in a kaleidoscope: today the desert, tomorrow the subtropics, today the bitter Dead Sea, tomorrow the fresh Galilee.
… From “Sheremetyevo-2” to the airport “Ben Gurion” less than four hours fly. And for about forty minutes we flew to the Eilat, the southernmost point of the country, at the local “corn-truck”. Checking on El Al flights is very tough. You will be asked three dozen questions: did you pack your suitcase yourself, are there friends or relatives in Israel, what is your marital status, how much money are you carrying … And be kind enough to give a detailed answer. All this is done for your own safety. And that was the case: one English girl, the groom (as it turned out later, a terrorist) asked to take a jar of jam to Israel, and there was a bomb. It is good that the simple-minded girl, answering security questions, told everything about herself, and the bomb was discovered on time.
EILAT is an active recreation center. Diving, desert travel, fitness programs are all here. The city has a completely Crimean-Caucasian mood: people walk the night away, carousels, restaurants, even large shops are open until morning.
The busiest hotel in this city is the brand new King Herod – King Herod. (Evaluate the humor. It’s somehow never occurred to us to name the hotel “Ivan the Terrible.”) Or rather, even one of its towers is the building where health-improving people live. You can’t smoke, mobile phones are prohibited, they don’t settle with children. Around the pools, waterfalls, spa and fitness equipment. Junk food will not be given for any money. In short, a real Auschwitz of health and beauty. But people (including from Russia) pay thousands of dollars to live there.
Of the entertainment in Eilat, I really liked the Underwater Observatory. Go down to the room with glass walls, located under water, at a depth of six meters – and become an exhibit for fish. Huge, multi-colored, with whimsical fin tails, they swim languidly around and lazily examine you.
You can swim among the fish yourself – a coral reef is designed for this. Fins and snorkels will be hired for a moderate fee. You can take short courses and master diving, and then go scuba diving in depth. We were more impressed with the dolphin reef – a pen in the sea, where dolphins swim. Pulling on a wetsuit, swimming in a ghoul for an instructor, looking at the bottom with fear, then dolphins appear out of nowhere. They are peeping. They can be ironed. They are big, like a mini-submarine, and slippery. Half an hour of strong impressions.
From Eilat we went to the Dead Sea. Roads in Israel are ideal, but narrow: typical – two lanes (very often they simply have nowhere to expand: either mountains or the sea). Local drivers complain about “boorish driving”, but compared to Moscow it’s just a House of Lords, not traffic.
At gas stations, they can give a shiny folding mat for free – to cover the steering wheel and panel in the car so that they do not become hot from the sun during parking.
The temperature (at the end of May) is 40 degrees, the stones melt, but the car (bus, hotel, shop and generally everything) is air-conditioned, so you can live.