After Athens I found it was cheaper to fly back to Glasgow from Israel (with help from my British Airways Executive Club points). Luckily, I found a rather cheap flight from Athens to Tel Aviv. Why Israel? a) I found decently priced flights b) the history and c) the scenery! I had also heard that Israel is one of the safest countries to travel to alone as a solo female.
A few weeks previously I had arranged with another girl on one of my female traveller Facebook groups to share a cab from the airport to Tel Aviv, which cost around ILS150.
After dropping her off at her Airbnb in Jaffa I made my way to my hotel in the Old North. One night stay at the Grand Beach Hotel cost me £134, but after a week and a half of sharing crowded tents and hostel dorms it was money well spent!
I spent my first night in Tel Aviv cloistered in my hotel room, ordered in a gluten free pizza, soaked in the bath and caught up on some Netflix. My breakfast the next morning was included in the price so I lounged until lunch then made my way to a recommended gluten free Italian restaurant a short walk away. It was called La Lasagna and they had an extensive gluten free menu – including desserts! I got the lasagna and a chocolate cake.
After lunch I got a taxi to the train station to make my way to Jerusalem. The train takes less than 2 hours and costs less than £5! You might need to swap trains at BG airport, but other than that it’s a pretty smooth ride.
The train station felt very sterile and was really quiet. Heading up to the street you’re hit with the busy-ness of Jerusalem. The tram was super easy to use and it wasn’t long before I was checking in to my hostel – Abraham Hostel.
My first morning I joined a free walking tour for the Old City which showed us around the four quarters of the City – Armenian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. The architecture and history was amazing to see.
I met another solo female traveller on the tour who was staying at the same hostel and we were booked on the same tour for the day after as well. Which was very good for me because Robin was instrumental in encouraging me to get up Masada the next morning.
It was a super early start as it was about a 2 hour drive from Jerusalem. Masada National Park is in the Judean Desert and is the home of an UNESCO ancient fortress which is a 300m (980ft) climb. After many, many stops up the Snake Path, I made it to the top of the plateau just in time to see the sunrise!
There is the option to take a cable car up to the top but it doesn’t open till 8am. I’m not sure if the cable car is accessible but there were many paths on the plateau that had the accessible sign.
Our next stop on our Abraham Tour was the Ein Gedi National Park. Unfortunately we only had an hour to spend there and we were told by the guides that it takes at least half an hour to reach the main waterfall. It would have been nice to have a bit longer as Ein Gedi is the biggest oasis in Israel. Due to the massive amount of exercise I had already done that morning, I wasn’t up for another hike, so I found a nice place to rest until it was time to go back to the bus and took some photos of ibexes.
Our last stop on the tour was a swim in the Dead Sea. It was really quiet when we arrived so we were quick to do dump our stuff and get our float on. 100% recommend NOT to shave any part of your body for a couple of days before submerging yourself into the salty, salty water.
The half day tour cost £65, which included a towel, transportation and entrance to the Dead Sea beach but not the entrance fees to Masada and Ein Gedi.
The tour had us back into Jerusalem by 1 so I wanted to go back to the Old City to check out the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church is the site of the the crucifixion of Jesus and the empty tomb were He was buried and resurrected.
The rest of the afternoon I spent at the Yad Vashem Museum before finding a lovely gluten free dinner. One of the positives of eating alone is that you normally don’t have to wait very long to get a table. I went all in and got an eggplant parmigiana and a mushroom parpadelle. It was soooo good!
Right, well this post is getting long now so I’m gonna wrap it up here, and write a separate post about the my Best of the West Bank tour.