My friend Elise and I at the Dead Sea

Being in Cyprus gives me access to affordable and easy flights to many other places, and I am taking full advantage of it. This last weekend I flew, with 10 other students, to Israel to spend a few days learning about a new culture. Our first day, a Friday, we spent in Tel Aviv, roaming around the Carmel market. The market was full of fresh fruits, warm pastries, souvenirs, and handmade goods. I ate the most delicious falafel pita sandwich, I’ll be dreaming of it for weeks to come. Sabbath started that night, so we grabbed some snacks for dinner and settled into our airbnb in Jerusalem. In the morning the majority of our group got up to go for a hike, I took this opportunity to simply sleep in. We all met up at the dead sea later that day, I felt like a little kid again, just covering myself in the mud and floating in the water. If there is a heaven, I bet it feels like that. Speaking of..

My friend, Garret, getting baptized

Our next stop was the Jordan river, a few of my friends met a priest here that baptized them in the water. Though I’m not religious, this ceremony was very moving. Some onlookers even had tears in their eyes as they watched my friends take their plunge. Others were outright crying. Since it was still Saturday and Sabbath was ongoing, we went back to our airbnb for a while before dinner, which happened to be in the more modern part of Jerusalem. My friend from school in New York, Elle, recommended that I go to the Machane Yehuda Market at night to go to some bars, which was so much fun. It doesn’t open until 8:30 pm on Saturdays, but is definitely worth the visit.

Our last day was spent walking around the Old City, where we walked Via Dolorosa, saw the room the Last Supper was held in, touched the Western Wall, and shopped around. Again, I’m not a religious person, but this experience was one that definitely showed me why people are. The respect and trust that so many people have in their religions is beautiful, and I can only have respect for them. Learning about the history and happenings of this gorgeous country was an experience I am so lucky to have had, especially since it was with some amazing people.

Tip: To save money and time I highly recommend renting a car! It cuts travel times in half and allows you to really do what you want with your days. Getting an airbnb or hostel

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