Escape From Budapest To Tel Aviv With Malév - Part 3

  • 4 Feb 2008 6:02 AM
Escape From Budapest To Tel Aviv With Malév - Part 3
Also included in this trip, booked via the helpful staff at the Sheraton Moriah Tel Aviv, was a journey to Bethlehem. The ‘City of Jesus’, proved to be equally amazing as expected. As these days it’s under the control of the Palestinian National Authority we left our Israeli guide behind and met up with a friendly Arab who showed us around this town of just 27,000 inhabitants.

Well aware that over the centuries millions of Christians have visited the Holy Land and this particular small town, I felt a deep sense of wonder as we visited the Nativity Church in Bethlehem.

Ranking amongst the most important Holy Places throughout the Christian World - perhaps its holiest – this church and the exact spot where Jesus was born somehow seemed to embody calm and hope in all those we visited with. Its sacred and historic meanings seem to shine through all those with us on this part of the trip.

Whether all are aware of it or not is another question, however I certainly came away with the feeling that goodness had gently touched my soul and consciousness. Obviously its hard to explain such feelings and so I can only recommend the trip, and hope the same sense of peace filters through the lives of everyone who goes there.

Back in Tel Aviv by road, after such interesting and moving cultural excursion, to my surprise I found myself in a bistro drinking free shots of local liquor thanks to a friendly young barmaid. She was encouraging me to enjoy the city nightlife, which she compared to New York, NY.

The barmaid boasted about clubs in Tel Aviv which she said were just like in America, with beautiful local girls on stage. I made it clear that such places weren’t of interest to me but I agreed upon her prompting that Israeli ladies are 'good looking'. 

Soon after that I politely excused myself, asking for directions back to the hotel. The barmaid obliged in a way that caused no offence - in fact she just insisted on one more free drink for the road - the same way beggars asking for cash at the Wailing Wall accepted 'no' for an answer in a friendly way.

On my way back to the hotel I walked past a basic yet inviting fish restaurant called Barbunia (Ben Yehuda st. 162.) The smell of fresh seafood frying was enough to lure me, and plenty of other guests, inside. Simply cooked fish, served fresh with an outstanding selection of salads, vegetables and bread works well, especially for just for around US10 per person. 

A more expensive seafood venue is Manta Ray, famous for its big black pots full of freshly prepared seafood. It has a view of the Mediterranean coast which makes tasting its delights even more pleasurable for lovers of fish.

Inspired by the local waters I set out to visit The Dead Sea, an easy trip from Tel Aviv, the full day excursion had an asking price of just US 67. Travelling in a group we got there by 4x4 via the Judean Desert - which descended to the lowest place on earth - having seen the Inn of the Good Samaritan, plus a distant view of Jericho, along the way. 

Settled at a comfortable resort spa we relaxed on the shore of the mineral rich waters there, experiencing the unique sensation of floating in the sea after rubbing therapeutic mud all over our bodies. On the way back to Tel Aviv we passed the Qumran cave where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered.

So many other excursions are on offer from Tel Aviv, to Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Massada, the Colan Heights, to mention just a few. The city of Tel Aviv itself, as the barmaid and tour guides each explained in their own special ways, has so much to offer that it’s certainly worth visiting with an open mind. 

It’s a destination I hadn’t planned to visit and actually went at the last minute, however I feel privileged to have had such a wonderful experience in Israel and am more than ready to escape there again for a few more days in future.

Click here for part 1

By Scott Daniels for

Malév Hungarian Airlines (+36 1) 235-3888 or 06-40-21-21-21

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