AUGUST, 2016

“Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits once said that we may live in one country but we can still seem to be in two different worlds. This is certainly true of Israel.”

On arrival in Israel and passing through passport control you will also be aware of mysterious figures lurking in the background and watching you suspiciously. Every tourist arriving in the Holy Land is seen as a potential terrorist and is carefully vetted as to their intentions and plans. Presumably any real terrorist will be well prepared for these questions so it was not clear to us what they were looking for. Anyway, I was one of those selected for particular harassment – but was only saved by a friend who was travelling with me and had an Israeli passport, spoke Hebrew and was a member of the army.


One thing you will need from them is an official stamp on your passport and a sticker on your luggage. Of course if you have any intention of later travelling to any Arab country then this sticker is better removed.

We went immediately by train to the north of Israel and noticed that everyone on the train seemed to be preoccupied with their mobile phones. It is a country with the highest per capita frequency of electronic gadgetry. Our destination was only a few kilometres from the border with Lebanon, whose proximity could not be missed – miles of barbed wire that looked extremely unfriendly. If I did not know where I was, I’d think I was on the border with Slovenia! Although ostensible friendly with these neighbours an Israeli wishing to travel to Lebanon cannot go directly but needs to travel via Cyprus or Turkey.

Our next destination was our kibbutz, close to the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. Not only is the country surrounded by barbed wire but kibbutz but there is another security fence around the kibbutz. You would think that this would be the ultimate level of security – but even so our apartment had its own bomb shelter that we could retreat to in the event of an attack!

“The natural beauty and historic monuments of this country are extraordinary – but don’t forget such lesser attractions as humus! Another surprise is the popularity of sushi…”


The population of this northern region is mostly composed of displaced Jews from the former USSR who are mostly engaged either in tourism or in growing bananas. Golan and Galilee are part of the occupied territories of Syria and Palestine. We drive along a half-empty highway which follows to border fence. So much history, so many stories, in one place. We then head towards the coast, driving though scattered Arab villages.

A few days after celebrating New Year we found ourselves in one of the most beautiful cities in the world … Ok, Dubrovnik is the most beautiful but Singapore also has lot to offer.

Cities such as Haifa, Tel Aviv and Acre take your breath away, but I was particularly looking forward to seeing Jerusalem. It is a city that can cause a tingling sensation in the whole body, every hair standing on end! This is a sacred centre for three distinct religions; it has been the scene of conflicts between Arabs, Crusaders, Romans, Egyptians, Persians … The natural beauty and historic monuments of this country are extraordinary – but don’t forget such lesser attractions as humus! Another surprise is the popularity of sushi…

The process of departure was not simple either. We were required to get to the airport five hours before our flight to go though the security checks.

Ivan Vuković, travel writer

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E-mail: ivan_vuka@yahoo.com

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