Discovering what makes Israel special
All those annoying traits like pushiness, crowdedness and in-your-face attitude suddenly don’t seem as imposing or claustrophobic when you don’t have be on the inside, but instead, can look on from the outside.
Maybe it’s because it was Hanukka week and less people were rushing around on work time schedules, but the country seemed to be moving at a slower speed. That’s not to say it wasn’t crowded.
The Hatzerim Air Force Museum was packed with families, due to the fact that there was free entrance during the holiday week. But it didn’t feel cramped, there weren’t any frayed nerves on display and everyone seemed to enjoy the amazing displays, like the aircraft that went on the 1976 Entebbe raid.
The further south we went, the more chill it became, with a stop at Mitzpe Ramon reminding us why it’s one of the most breathtaking sights in the country.
And the real revelation came at our final destination – Eilat. Instead of staying in the glitzy, Las Vegas-style cluster of hotels along the North beach and its third-rate boardwalk, we ventured down closer to the Taba border along the South beach, far less packed, more natural and bohemian and far away from the masses.
Two of the country’s treasures were in walking distance – the Coral Reef Reserve, where ‘swimming with the fish’ is a very positive thing – especially when you come upon a coral cluster inhabited by hundreds of colorful sea creatures – and the Dophin Reef, a true throwback to the bygone hippie days.
Done up in early Gilligan’s Island style, the beach is as unassuming as it is awesome. Whether hanging on comfortable ‘poofs’ (beanbags) along the docks and watching the eight dolphins who live there go about their daily lives, or being move adventurous and free with the funds, and spending a half hour swimming alongside them with a guide, the Dolphin Reef is conceivably the place they were describing when the term ‘paradise on Earth’ was coined.
There were patrons galore at both locations, but nary a voice was raised, a temper flared or a cross word exchanged – as everyone for a short time seemed to be in the thralls of realizing what makes Israel special.