First Impressions Of The Israel Blog Trip

First Impressions Of The Israel Blog Trip

First impressions are such an important thing to get right no matter the situation. We all know if you go to a restaurant and get a bad meal, the knock on effect is that you probably won’t return and are very likely to spread negative feedback to all of your friends. So when I accepted an invitation to attend the Once In A Lifetime 2.0 blog trip to Israel, I knew that first day could easily make or break how I would feel about the people and the country.

Having navigated the rather thorough security staff in London before boarding my flight you could forgive me for thinking the trip was getting off to a bad start. But hey I was going into this with an open mind and didn’t want to start judging a book by it’s cover just yet.

Any concerns I had soon faded after meeting the shall I say very excited Keren and Omry at Ben Garion Airport at the very early time of 6am. It was here where I started to learn just how much this trip meant to these students of the Technion and University of Haifa. I’m always excited about travel but these guys… WOW it was like someone had just told them they had won the lotto.

Running on no sleep myself, (Keren and Omry too I think) we caught the train up to Haifa from Tel Aviv and checked into our hotel before setting off to walk some of the streets of Haifa. Not 2 hours in the country and already I’m learning about the history of Haifa and getting to know these amazing people that will be our guides and friends for the trip.

The point where they really blew my mind however was meeting everyone for dinner that first night. Imagine 20+ people all waiting eagerly for you to arrive and knowing everything about you. I’ll be honest it was an intimidating experience, I’m not used to having everybody know my entire story before I get to tell them. The funny thing was that even while I knew nothing about them, the smilies and the handshakes and the aura of excitement that surrounded the night made me feel like I did.

It didn’t matter that I had just met Maxim (The Money Man) or Ori (Damage) or the beautiful Chen, they all felt like friends I’d known for years. Here I was in Israel, a place my family, friends and the media would say OMG you can’t go there it’s not safe. Instead all I was thinking about was that if these few people were so amazing then I can’t wait to get out and see the rest of Israel and its people because I’m in love already.

So to answer that million dollar question “What Was My First Impression Of The Trip?” did it live up to the images built up in my mind? The answer is quite simple… I was blown away. I have so much to tell you all that I hope you will follow along with my trip and maybe learn a few things about Israel like I am.

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38 Responses to First Impressions Of The Israel Blog Trip

  1. CAROLE BROW September 14, 2011 at 8:19 AM #

    I went to Israel to celebrate my 60th birthday in 2007, and I was also amazed by what a lovely experience it was. People everywhere in the country– Israeli and Palestinian alike– were welcoming, warm and friendly and made sure I knew that they were glad to meet me. I came to see the Holy Land but that was not the best part of what I got from being there. I came away with the opinion that every thinking person should experience Israel for his or herself. I’d go back in a heartbeat!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 15, 2011 at 12:14 AM #

      Carol glad your time in Israel was so great. Sounds like my experience is mirroring yours exactly.

  2. STRAPPER September 14, 2011 at 3:34 PM #

    Can’t wait to hear your additional comments on this trip. Obviously, it’s already been a very positive experience for the Aussie Nomad!

  3. ERIN September 14, 2011 at 7:55 PM #

    This is such a cool opportunity. So excited for you!

  4. TURTLE September 15, 2011 at 6:49 AM #

    Everyone I know who’s been to Israel raves about it. It’s definitely on my list. It would be great to hear any particular suggestions you’ve got from your visit there. Have an awesome time, mate!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 12:23 AM #

      Turtle I’ll be sure to provide some great tips on things I’ve seen and done. Really is so many amazing things and people to meet here.

  5. NOMADIC SAMUEL September 15, 2011 at 7:36 AM #

    Chris, that’s fantastic you had such a good first impression. I met a lot of Israeli backpackers in both South America and India and it has peaked my interest in eventually going there someday myself.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 12:24 AM #

      Samuel mate talking to all the students that are with us they keep saying oh I went backpacking to South America or India or just about anywhere, a good rivalry for all the aussie that travel I think.

      You really need to come mate so worth the trip.

  6. RAYMOND @ MAN ON THE LAM September 16, 2011 at 12:07 PM #

    I spent 4 months working in Israel many years ago and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The country is so rich with history and experience. And I can’t say I didn’t feel safe there. Enjoy the trip!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 12:25 AM #

      Raymond mate totally agree. I’ve felt safe everywhere I’ve been, probably more safe that various parts of Europe I’ve been to.

  7. AUSSIE ON THE ROAD September 17, 2011 at 2:49 AM #

    Glad to hear it. I’ve always wanted to visit Israel. Looking forward to reading more about your visit.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 12:26 AM #

      Hopefully I can convince you to come as well mate. I never had Israel on the must see list and now I’m trying to work out how I can come back here.

  8. SABINA September 17, 2011 at 10:39 AM #

    I’m SOO glad to hear you got a grand first impression of Israel! First impressions are always important, as you state, but when it comes to Israel I think even if you’d gotten off to a bad start you would have learned to love it quickly 🙂

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 12:28 AM #

      Sabina I know I’m going to say this alot but man what a place. I’ve been from up north in Haifa to Tel Aviv and now Jerusalem. Amazing to see how the countries landscape changes as you travel further south.

  9. GAZAN September 17, 2011 at 8:13 PM #

    So, are you going to visit Gaza or the West Bank? I hear the military zone choking the life out of Hebron’s historic Arab market is lovely this time of year.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 12:34 AM #

      Gazan while I appreciate your comment I’m not here to debate the politics of a country when I don’t live here and don’t fully understand both sides (I’m not sure even living here could help me with that). I see you are from Jordan so perhaps you have a different understanding of the country than I do living so close I don’t know.

      While I can’t comment on this issue I’d be happy to direct you to some of the students that organised the trip for me here in Israel so you can better discuss this matter with someone that is better prepared to as they have lived here all their life.

      • NIMROD September 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM #

        Hi Gazan, I’m Israeli student that took part in the Stand with Us initiation. I’ve also served in Hebron as a soldier. I would like to better understand your notion, given that you’d like to disscuss a solution for the middle east conflict.
        you can send me an email if you like.

      • GAZAN September 18, 2011 at 8:44 PM #

        Curiously enough, the reason that I live in Jordan is because my father and my mother’s parents had to flee their homes in Jaffa in 1948 and were never allowed to return because they are not Jewish.

    • ADAM September 18, 2011 at 2:16 AM #

      I think it’s a shame that these bloggers aren’t taking the time or making the effort to visit the West Bank and it’s obvious why the organizers aren’t offering it to them.

      Israel becomes a completely different place once you get to know more of the narrative that exists there. Israel and the Palestinian territories are made up of millions of people, many of whom don’t share the same equal rights nor the same freedoms. Anyone who thinks of visiting Israel should honestly & carefully consider what types of repercussions their actions might make and should be careful of where their footsteps land.

      • ROMAN September 18, 2011 at 11:37 AM #

        Adam: By saying that it’s a “completely different place” you reduce Israelis to only be defined in the terms of the conflict.

        The biggest repercussion of traveling to Israel is that one gets to know it personally. News about the conflict are everywhere, so if you wish to stick to shallow image the general media makes of the region, you should suffice in reading your daily news.

        Aussie’s blog goes beyond the level of the common news headline to the level of the people who live here, and I think he deserves a great deal of respect for that.

        • ADAM September 18, 2011 at 12:18 PM #

          A country and its image is made up of a thousand different perspectives. Yes, talking to people that live there is one of the best ways to know and understand a place; however this trip is only offering a narrow selection of people for which the bloggers get to speak with.

          My suggestion is that they should simply be able to see and visit people who are on the other side so they can truly gain a much more well-rounded perspective. All I’m trying to say is that there is more to Israel than just the views of the sponsors. There are many more people in Israel and the Palestinian territories who have an incredible diversity of beliefs and opinions.

          • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 3:15 PM #

            Adam I’ve known you for a long time through the travel blog world and while I’d hoped my trip to Israel would be left for me to decide my own opinion of the place much like you seem to have done from your stay here. I can’t help but feel your comments and tweets of late are of an attacking notion both of myself, the students and organisation that have put together what I feel has been a very eye opening and amazing experience for me.

            While I know you may not intend be viewed in that way I have come in with an open mind and been offered the option to speak with many people here be it students, guest speakers and other groups that allow me to form my own opinion.

            You may not agree with everyone I’ve spoken to but its impossible to speak with everyone and do everything you think I should. The students worked very hard to put together a trip that is heavily based around the things each of them wanted us to see and experience. These students come from various different backgrounds and parts of israel that I feel you are being overly critical of people you have never met including myself which is rather hurtful for you to think of me in that way.

            I’m a travel blogger, I travel to see the mountains and the rivers and buildings of a country and have no interest in debating the politics of a country that is foreign to each of us, me from australia and your from america.

            You are welcome to your opinion of course I cant stop you of that but all I ask is that you keep to the topic of my articles.

            • ADAM September 18, 2011 at 3:38 PM #

              I’m not attacking you. But I do believe we disagree on what a travel blogger can and should do.

              I don’t believe my comments are out of line, either.

              • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 3:43 PM #

                We will agree to disagree then

              • MARCELLO September 18, 2011 at 3:55 PM #

                Yes you are attacking him.. by saying we should be careful of the repercussions of what we write you are saying that what he is talking about is rubbish. This is his personal blog and he can say whatever he wants..

                If you want to talk politics go put on a uniform and pick a side.. otherwise keep that shet to yourself

                • ADAM September 18, 2011 at 4:13 PM #

                  I said that bloggers should be careful and considerate of what they write and where they go. How is that an attack? I don’t want to continue spamming this comment thread. Feel free to chat with me elsewhere.

  10. ELIYAHU YAAKOV September 18, 2011 at 12:52 PM #

    Aussie Nomad,

    I’m sure you are not lacking in material for your blog, but you are invited to visit us for a Shabbat in the Old City of Jerusalem for another awesome experience.

    Eliyahu Yaakov

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 3:19 PM #

      Eilyahu you are correct in me not needing anymore material. The things I have seen so far and are still to see will keep me in content for months I’m sure of it.

      I wish we had time to visit you but our schedule is very tight and am always finding myself getting the hurry up from the student organisers. We leave tomorrow morning from memory but I do intend to come back to Israel as these 11 days are far from long enough to get to know your country well. So if you’ll have me I’d love to chance to meet you another time and experience a Shabbat with you.

  11. ANTWAN September 18, 2011 at 2:55 PM #

    would love to hear your impression when you visit the city of Bethlehem

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 18, 2011 at 3:22 PM #

      Antwan unfortunately Bethlehem was not included in the schedule but I did get to at least see it from afar today. As I’ve mentioned above in the comments I really want to come back to Israel so would love to meet up with you and have a look around Bethlehem together.

      It’s one of those cities that I’ve heard about for years growing up going to church etc just like Jerusalem so next time I visit it would be great to see you.

  12. RAFI September 19, 2011 at 8:53 AM #

    It was nice meeting you last night. You all are an inspiring group of young people. Hope you gained a lot of information, experiences, emotions to share with all.

  13. DEB September 19, 2011 at 11:58 AM #

    Glad you are having a wonderful experience. I’m looking forward to all your posts about your time in Israel.

  14. DARREN September 19, 2011 at 8:10 PM #

    Chris I am so glad you are having such a great time in Israel. I try to tell my family and friends what it is that grabbed me almost the moment I set foot in the country. I had a lot of preconcieved ideas about Israel and all of them have gone out the window. It’s now my second home and I can’t wait to get back to my Tel Aviv apartment at the end of this month after travelling around Spain and Portugal. The country is beautiful and the people are absolutely the warmest I have met anywhere!

  15. ELLY September 20, 2011 at 4:20 AM #

    Amazing, loved reading your blog! Makes me want to go to Israel!

  16. WILLIAM K WALLACE October 10, 2011 at 6:44 PM #

    Aussie Nomad, many years ago I spent 4 months enjoying the wonders of Israel and it is a great country to explore. But unlike you I did get the chance to visit areas where the Palestinians are oppressed and live like second class citizens on their own land!

    I’m sure your hosts made sure that you seen the side of Israel that they wanted you to see! I guess that is the one of the down sides of accepting a paid for trip, as opposed to paying for it yourself! I’m sure if the Palestinians had invited you to Israel that your experience would have been slightly different … but they don’t have the Yankee dollar bank rolling them so I doubt they could afford a PR campaign such as this!

    And please don’t think this is some sort of attack … I’m just keeping it real!

  17. MMMMMWWW November 27, 2011 at 2:22 PM #

    It is a very interesting experience! Here is a film about people traveling around the country and has something to do with First Impressions. Check it out!

  18. ROGER MOORE March 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM #

    You sure had a great first time outing at Israel. I loved your post.
    Thanks for sharing.


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