Just Happy to be Here

Claudia and I were sitting in a window at a cafe in Tel Aviv, basking in the sun like cats. We had just finished a large Israeli breakfast complete with shakshuka and Israeli salads, and were now slowly sipping our cappuccinos.

She exhaled contently, closed her eyes and said, “I’m just happy to be here.”

And honestly, I couldn’t think of a better way to describe Tel Aviv and Israel so far.

Just happy to be here.

A year ago while in Dubai, I found out that my father would be going to Israel the following Thanksgiving and I called my mom immediately to finagle my way into that trip. I had made the decision that I would like to spend more time in the Middle East, and at that point was looking for every opportunity to do so.

I’m glad I did, because Israel surprised me with how lovely it is.

It’s clean and safe, the people are kind and the men are all tall, dark and handsome.

There’s sunshine and palm trees, and freshly pressed pomegranate juice on every corner.

The food is divine- all fresh and healthy. In fact, I unintentionally became a vegetarian for most of my trip because of how good all of their salads, hummus and pitas were.

I think I’m particularly fond of Tel Aviv because it reminds me of Barcelona a little- it has everything you need. You can explore the ancient city of Yafo and entertain the history buff inside you, you can lay out at the beach under a palm, you can shop for modern artisan jewelry in Neve Tzedek, share a bunch of small plates at a late dinner with some friends, and then boogie until the early hours of the morning.

While my trip isn’t done yet (I still haven’t floated in the Dead Sea or explored Jerusalem), I can already recommend Israel as a neat place to visit. Birthright, Catholic pilgrimage to the Holy Land, or a ridiculous mileage run- doesn’t matter why! Just go.

Sunset over Tel Aviv