The past two weeks have been extremely busy but definitely unforgettable because of all the amazing people who came to visit me in Israel. Between my parents’ 12-day Israeli excursion to one of my closest friend’s first time in the Holy Land, I loved playing tour guide as I showed everyone how amazing Israel is. Besides, after reading my weekly blog posts, they just had to come see it for themselves.
After showing my family all of the usual Tel Aviv hotspots for the first few days (i.e. Gordon Beach, HaYarkon Park, the Namal, and of course, Benny and the Fisherman), they were off on a week-long tour of the country. Having never been before, they got to see Israel from top to bottom and everything in between. I opted to stay in Tel Aviv for this portion of their trip because of classes and my second visitor of the week (a fellow Gator). While they drove jeeps through the Golan and left their notes inside of the Kotel’s wall, I was able to show Sam just how amazing Tel Aviv is for a few short days.
Sam had never been to Israel either. I was careful to show her just enough so that she’ll want to come back for more next year on Birthright. Aside from the amazing weather and ample amounts of beach time that week, I guided Sam through the shuk, where she had her first falafel and was able to bargain a bit with the street vendors. We walked around the streets of Tel Aviv and Ramat Aviv, and of course, ended her vacation with a ginormous meal at Benedict (studying abroad in Florence can really fuel that pancake craving).
After Sam was on her way back to Europe, I rejoined my parents for their final weekend in Jerusalem. On the last day of their tour, we went to Masada and the Dead Sea. Though I had already been to both of these major tourist attractions, it was definitely different and extra special experiencing it with my parents. They were both in such awe of how beautiful and serene this area of Israel was compared to the other parts. I loved seeing the smiles on their faces as we went from place to place.
What made the weekend even more special was celebrating Shabbat on Friday evening at the Western Wall. This was very uplifting and moving as we watched hundreds of families, soldiers and tourists come together to welcome in Shabbat. Everywhere you looked, people were dancing, singing and rejoicing. It was truly uplifting and even more meaningful with my parents by my side.
Although my semester thus far has been all about meeting new people and experiencing new things, it was definitely time for some much needed TLC. I was so happy to have had the chance to show everyone why I love it here, and I’m pretty sure that by the end, they were just as enamored with Israel as I am.