Israel: A remarkable experience

I arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel on a Friday afternoon. It was Shabbat (a day of rest), therefore, very few people were on the road, shops were closed and a few public transportation facilities were operational.

In six hours, we landed at Ben Gurion International Airport (thanks to RwandAir’s direct flight). We were warmly welcomed on arrival.

I couldn’t wait to tour the city and as soon as I got to the hotel, I dropped my bags in my room and wandered off to see the city. I was immediately blown away by the exceptional architecture.

The first Hebrew words I learnt as I walked around were ‘Shabbat Shalom’ (happy Sabbath). This is how people greeted each other as they all went to their respective places of worship.

One of the first things you notice about the city, especially on the weekend, is the enthusiastic love that people have for sports. Young or old, they all engage in sports regardless of the time or weather.

The sandy beaches

Stretching along the Mediterranean Coast, the city is home to 13 certified bathing beaches, each with its unique features and facilities.

The sandy beaches harbour beach-volleyball courts, kite surfing areas, work-out equipment and various restaurants and bars that give you a taste of Tel Aviv.

Music lovers are also catered for because, along the beaches are musicians who do live performances—mainly Brazilian nationals who sing while performing Capoeira—an Afro-Brazilian martial art.

Old city of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one place I have always wanted to visit. It took me an hour to reach this old city from Tel Aviv.

The place is home to countless historic religious sites and archaeological wonders, pilgrims always call it ‘a dream come true’.

What makes it unique is the three renowned religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), for they all regard it as a ‘Holy Land’ due to their respective beliefs and prophecies.

One other recognisable landmark in this city is the ‘Dome of the Rock’— an Islamic shrine located at the Temple Mount in Israel’s Old City. This is regarded by Muslims as a place where the ‘Judgment Seat’ will be located at the end of the world. And near it is a place where Christians believe Christ spent His last days and thereafter ascended to Heaven.

There is also the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall — this is the most religious site in the world for Jewish people.

The reason as to why this is so is because this wall was the only thing that survived several destructions of the Temple, the last one being carried out by Romans in 70 CE.

People from all around the world gather here to pray and worship God.

The visit to Jerusalem became even more interesting when we saw its most vibrant market — Mahane Yehuda Market. This place attracts over 100,000 visitors a day.

This is because the market is home to many foods and drinks with sellers who come from different backgrounds, and, therefore, prepare different dishes.

Tech hub - Be’er Sheva

It would be unjust to talk about Israel and not mention its high-ranked cyber state.

Located south of Israel, Be’er Sheva is also known as the Capital of Negev, a large desert that used to be the dwelling place of Abraham. The place also has a cultural centre known as ‘Abraham’s Well’.

Aside from the tech companies that one can visit in this city, it is also home to other sites that include; Ben-Gurion University –known for providing cybersecurity education and the national CERT (Cyber Emergency Response Team), among others.

Recently, the place became Israeli’s military base.

My first visit to Israel was a truly memorable one. I feel lucky that I was among the said 3.5 million people who visit Israel every year — an actual dream come true.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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