When I first learned I would be traveling to Israel I honestly wasn’t sure what to think. I had flashes of all the news programs blaring how scary the Middle East is.
The news programs were in direct conflict with everything I had heard from friends who told me how much they loved touring Israel.
As my trip started to come together I went from excited to nervous and everything in between.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, what to bring or even how I felt about the whole thing.
When I arrived in Tel Aviv after 23 hours of travel I was still a bit concerned but also exhausted. My driver ended up being the sweetest grandfather who made me feel so welcomed.
From my driver to the staff at the hotel Mamilla being so welcoming I started to relax a bit. Over my time in Israel, I found myself relaxing and truly falling for the people and the country.
One thing you quickly notice is the guns everywhere in Jerusalem especially. Israeli army members walking in groups with semi-automatic weapons to police and security guards with gunbelts.
At first, this surprised me but over time it started to blend into the atmosphere of the country. I never felt like I was in danger. Actually, I felt really secure and protected. If something happened around me it felt like it would be handled in mess than 2 seconds.
I felt comfortable walking back to my hotel at night with other female writers. I felt comfortable hopping in a cab by myself and exploring Jerusalem.
I truly feel that travel is needed to help break down stereotypes and stigmas that we see on the news.
Being in Israel reminded me that the world truly revolves around love, family, and kindness. That multiple ethnicities, religions, cultures, and faiths can not only love in the same place but thrive together.
The mayor of Jerusalem told us that most of the conflicts he sees are not between different faiths but instead within the same faith.
The world is a beautiful place and people are truly amazing. A smile and kindness can help break down language barriers.
I truly encourage you to look past the news and negative press and visit Israel. I think you will have the experience of a lifetime. The people I met embraced me as family and truly welcomed me to their country.
Over my time in Israel, I found myself changing, relaxing and falling for this gorgeous country.