I’ve  been learning about Israel for as long as I can remember, from studying religion in grade school to debating Middle East relations as a political science major in college. So needless to say, the mystifying and provocative country has always been on my radar. And though I’ve imagined what it would be like, my first trip to Israel far surpassed my expectations and proved to be one of most fascinating experiences of my life.

The trip was put on by a group of 25 remarkable Israeli students from Bar Ilan University. Together, they diligently orchestrated DigIsrael, a project that involved inviting six travel bloggers from around the world on a five-day historical tour of some of Israel’s most prominent and exclusive sites. The students’ mission was to coordinate an itinerary showcasing a different side of Israel, “beyond the conflict.”

As expected religion was an underlying theme; after all Israel is the center of the world’s three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, I was very impressed with our knowledgeable tour guide, Michael Bauer, and his efforts to steer clear from the controversies (despite his extensive background in Israeli-Arab relations) that have plagued the Middle East in recent years. Instead, our jam-packed schedule focused on Israel’s “journey through time,” exploring the rise and fall of civilizations through its archaeological richness.

In Israel, relics and artifacts are literally discovered everyday at various excavation sites and landmarks throughout the country. The idea is, the further archaeologists “dig”, the more we’re able to learn, understand, and appreciate the stories of  our ancestors.

My three favorite archaeological  highlights included:

Stay tuned for future posts on my cultural adventures at a real Bedouin, (an Arab nomadic community) and a Kibbutz (an agricultural based Israeli commune), as well as my ten favorite snapshots from my extraordinary day in old city of Jerusalem.

If you are looking to travel to Israel but don’t know where to start or what to expect, here’s a quick crash course on things to consider as you plan what I guarantee will be the adventure of your lifetime as well!

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