Israel has always been one of my favorite countries. I had an opportunity to spend 6 weeks as a part of Johns Hopkins University Immersion program. We worked with Israel’s tech startups and learned about the country’s rich heritage and Jewish culture.
We had a friendly student guide who showed us around on the weekend. Israel’s weekend is Friday and Saturday due to Shabbat.
On one particular evening, we went to a wine bar in the German town of Haifa. We were drinking good Israeli wine and asked our guide about the wine.
He suggested taking a quick detour in our North Israel tour to visit a vineyard in the Golan Heights area.
We went to the best vineyard, tasted different variety of wines and witnessed the most beautiful sunset.
The vineyard owner was a veteran and started telling us the 1967 – Six Day War story, where Israel captured Golan Heights from Syria.
While he was sharing a personal recollection of the war, he paused and pointed towards the vineyard.
He told us that the entire region used to be filled with landmines before the war.
Later, they cleared the land mines and started growing grapes to make wine.
He said the reason Israeli wines have a smoky taste because of the gunpowder present in the soil.
With a smile on his face, he joked “You’re drinking gunpowder. Drink at your own risk”. We all burst into laughter.
- The best falafel shop in Israel is a small shop next to the beer truck in the Caramel market, Tel Aviv. Don’t forget to drink a cold beer with delicious falafel. It’s a good combo.
- We stopped at the highest point of the Golan Heights to see Syria’s border. Literally, we were 5 mins away from the border.
- Contrary to popular media, Palestine and Israel are safe countries and have friendly citizens. No one wants war.
- Floating in the Dead Sea is one of my favorite experiences. I have floated twice from both the sides (Israel and Jordan). I like the Israel side better as the water is cleaner.
- The Dead Sea motto is: Put the mud, float and relax. The Dead Sea mud can get rid of annoying skin disorder, seriously, my skin was glowing after the shower. No one wonder why the Dead Sea Mud Mask is insanely popular.