THIS IS ISRAEL

It’s really hard to believe that just a few weeks ago I was in the Holy Land… Israel. I have been to Israel several times and I have to say, each time I leave a little piece of my heart there. I can’t explain it, but this country is just so very special and until you’ve been there, it’s very difficult to explain all the emotions that go through your heart and head.

I’ve also never received so many DM’s, emails, and texts regarding how much this country is on everyones bucket list. How many of you want to go and have questions, whether or not it is safe, and all the other details involved. Hence, this blog post. A full recap on Israel; where to go, what to do, where to stay, safety, and all the do’s and don’ts!

Without further adieu, this is my Israel recap…

JERUSALEM

We flew out to Israel for a wedding and knew we didn’t have a ton of time. In general even though we try to go out of country at least once a year at least without kids, we typically don’t leave for longer then seven days because of all the kids. We just miss them too much. This time we flew out for six days. You have to remember that traveling to Israel is lengthy, there is no direct flight from Chicago, so give pr take you lose about a day.

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I’ve traveled all over Israel and so has my husband, as his brother used to live there. The wedding was in Jerusalem, so we stayed there the entire time. Jerusalem was our home base. Israel is not a big country, so you can definitely hire a driver and go from one place to another fairly easy, however it’s pricey.

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We stayed at the stunning Orient Hotel. It’s part of an  Isrotel group, which has gorgeous hotels all throughout Israel. I highly recommend it. They are all modern, the food is insane and the rooms are stunning. We had the view of the Old City of Jerusalem, so gorgeous to wake up to. They had an insane pool on the rooftop with a beautiful bar and incredible music. They also had a full spa, gym (that we never used) and an indoor swimming pool as well. The hotel is very kid friendly. Actually the entire country of Israel is extremely kid friendly. Everyone travels and does almost everything with their children… I only wish mine came with us, but we’ll be back!

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A short ten minute walk from our hotel, lies The Old City . In the Old City are  the markets, Kotel (The Western Wall), Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Please keep in mind that these are all holy and religious sites. You must observe their traditions and be respectful. Men must wear pants and women have to have their shoulders and knees covered. Israel is in the dessert and obviously gets very hot. You can bring items in your backpack to change into or a scarf to wrap around yourself. Also, if you bring a letter to the Kotel, you can put it into the crevices outside of the wall, or there are tunnels you can go through via tour on the inside as well. When you leave the wall it is respectful to walk away from it facing the wall, so you walk backwards. As to never turn your back to it. It’s a beautiful experience, heavy, emotional and incredible!!! I highly recommend it.

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Jerusalem is almost all kosher and the food is insane. Our favorite restaurant is by Jaffa Gate called The Eucalyptus. We first walked by the restaurant and fell in love with it’s charming atmosphere. The Chef is a gardener and had a beautiful wall of herbs and flowers cascading the building. The food was beyond insane!!! If you watched my stories, you know what I’m talking about. The Chef also comes out and greets every guest, the music is amazing like in most of Israel and the drinks are so so good! Side-note: Israel is pretty pricey, expect to pay NYC/London prices for cocktails and food. The drinks are amazing and Israelis are quite the mixologists!!!

 

 

Another restaurant that is a must is the Machneyuda Restaurant. This is one of the hottest places in Jerusalem. You will need reservations well in advance, but this place is insane and so worth it. It’s quite the experience. Visit their site and see what I’m talking about. It’s CRAZY!

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I don’t know about you, but markets are essential to my travel. I feel like going to markets is really feeling the pulse of a country. Especially Middle Eastern Markets, there really nothing like them. The smell of the spices, all the gold, the colors, it’s just so inspiring. Make sure you visit the Muslim markets in the Old City and check out the Mahane Yehuda Jewish Market as well. It’s so much fun and the perfect places to get souvenirs. Most vendors also ship to US.

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Finally, while in Jerusalem, you have to check out The First Station! It’s basically an old railroad staton, that was re-designed and made into a big closed street filled with installations, restaurants, shops, street art, music and festivals. The station was right across from our hotel and most nights the party went on till way past 1am. Typically dinner and everything in Israel start late. It’s definitely a night country!

HERZILYA + TEL AVIV

We took a day trip to Herzilya, Israel thanks to my friend Tali, who introduced us to her incredible friend Luba Jakobson an amazing Israeli fashion influencer. Herzilya, is a beautiful sea town about 20 minutes away from Tel Aviv. It reminded me of Miami or a mediterranean island. Filled with chic hotels, incredible real state and beach clubs. We hung out all day at the gorgeous Gazebo Beach Club. This place was filled with gorgeous young peeps with quite a scene, incredible food, but all of Israel has incredible food and of course insane music! The beaches are filled with surfers, crystal clear waters and is just the perfect place to kick back and have that cliché Rosé all Day!

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Because Herzilya is only a short drive from Tel Aviv, we headed out there the same eve. Like I said we had limited time, however if you can I highly recommend you stay a few days. Tel Aviv is major, it’s like the NYC of Israel. Big city, fun times, on the water. They have a very good night life there as well and the town is not as religious as Jerusalem. For example, Jerusalem is dead on Shabbat, so from sundown Friday night to Saturday 80% of the city is closed. If you are not an observer of Shabbat, it’s the perfect time to party it up in Tel Aviv.

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Some places you must check out is the The Jaffa Tel Aviv. Originally called W, as in The Hotel Group, it is brand new and insane. The Setai, is right in the Jaffa district and so gorgeous with an incredible outside lounge/bar! A little fun fact, the famous influencer babe Danielle from We Wore What, was also in Israel at the same time and we basically had the same trip simultaneously and kept on running into each other.

Need to experience one of the top bars in the word?! You have to check out the Imperial. Voted as the top 50 bars in the world, I’m not kidding when I tell you that Israeli’s are major mixologists.

Overall, Jaffa is stunning. It is filled with gorgeous restaurants, lots of amazing art. You also must check out their flea market district inside of Jaffa. It’s not an actual flea market but more like a Wynwood Walls, with the best bars, lounges and restaurants.

DEAD SEA

Everything here is, well, dead! The saltiest water and the lowest elevation a person can stand on, on the surface of this planet. This is the Dead Sea. Once again if you have time you must venture out towards Elilat. It’s a beautiful town bordering Jordan and Egypt in Israel. I’ve been there before. It’s filled with chic hotels, incredible spas and lots of water activities in the Red Sea. We unfortunately didn’t have time and din’t make it out there. We had to go to the Dead Sea  for a nice mud bath and some floating fun. You can not drown in these waters! A little tip, keep that water out of your eyes and mouth, it’s SALTY! It can burn majorly and ladies don’t make the mistake of shaving before you go. I forgot and shaved and my legs were on fire from all the salt!!!

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The sea starts out a bit muddy at the beginning and as you go deeper towards Eilat it gets way more clear and turquoise in colors with salt banks all over. You literally have to dig and find mud baths around. Overall it’s an amazing experience and definitely a bucket list one to do!

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We actually saw these building right by the border of Palestine on the way to the Dead Sea and I had to pull over to explore and take some shots.

THE WEDDING

So now to the final section of this blog… the wedding. After all we went to Israel for a wedding, and what a wedding it was! Honestly it’s hard to put into words how incredible, breathtaking, and magical it was. Hubby and I decided that our kids must get married here… we gotta start saving up!

It was held at the Tower of David, one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem, right next to the Jaffa Gates. The entire museum was rented out, and the first floor carpeted so us ladies can walk in heels. AMAZING! I wish I had more images of this magical affair but to tell you the truth, we were so in the moment that I didn’t even take any pix.

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I hope you enjoyed this recap and you visit this holy, beautiful, magical country some day! Do’t wait… book a flight!

 

*Video Editing by MadxMedia