"Israel- Small and Terrible!" Israel by matt10gonzalez

Israel Travel Guide: 8,937 reviews and 26,211 photos

Most Memorable Moment

Who can’t forget that memorable journey from Jerusalem back to Cairo via the strict, volatile GAZA border? Wow! What a journey alright…

We had to wake up at 6 AM (Which we’re used to) to catch the bus (It was Masada tours by the way, who was brave enough to make that journey.) to Cairo, pay an overpriced, hefty 40$ (per person!) exit tax permit in order to leave Israel, (The tour girl of Masada tours said, we found out later it only actually costs 26 US! Those cheaters!), in the end, you know what?
The Israeli officer at the border crossing to Egypt, deliberately made us wait for 4 whole hours in nothing but desert sand, in the noon heat. That’s right!
4 WHOLE HOURS!
I knew they did it on purpose because they said; we have to wait for an escort and guess what? The escort never came! After 4 hours, they decided to just let us go through! I had a feeling he was just goofing off, taking a nap and eating. I don’t know why they did that, but I do know: That we sure did suffer!
Boy!
The weather was boiling hot! There was no McDonalds, and we sure starved! (The passengers in the bus were so kind enough to pity us and give us food!) And it was even bad enough to make this American couple (the only tourists aside from us) get into each other’s nerves! Boy, the American girl kept on insulting and insulting the Egyptians loudly and rudely and her male partner was so embarrassed and was swearing the F-words already! But you know? He was right to get embarrassed: Because our polite Egyptian driver was scolding his partner the whole time in front of him!
That was our only form of entertainment. (Which we enjoyed a lot! I have to admit!)

And after we got through the hot, unattractive Rafah border (Gaza), we finally made it in Cairo at a very, very, very late, 12:20 midnight. That’s right! We traveled the whole day without lunch or anything! You should have seen my face at this moment- I was so pale! I was so white, so pale, like a ghost! (No exaggeration! That’s what my family said!)

Apparently in Cairo, 12 midnight is just the start of fun, so lucky for me! McDonalds was open! My gosh! When I saw McDonalds, it was like the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life! It was like nirvana- for food! After eating McDonalds, my face returned to my original colors.

Lesson Learned:
1.) Personally: In land journeys, always bring extra food like bread, cereals and so on. You’ll never know!

2.) Travel-wise: Don’t take the straight buses from Israel to Egypt! Unless they pass the Taba-Eliat border! Take the Taba-Eliat border, It’s nicer, more convenient, less bureaucracy and easier! And just stay overnight in Sharm-el-Sheikh or Dahab! It’s more relaxing!

3.) Our experience wasn’t so bad- at least we made it with not much questioning. Other passengers in the bus, were questioned, interviewed and some didn’t even make it like these following people:

A Lebanese nun, a kind passenger in our bus was questioned for hours and she nearly didn’t make it across the Rafah border! (But she did!) We were worried she wouldn’t make it because we heard some terrorists were disguised as nuns.

A nice Palestinian family refugee were with us and were hoping to get out of Gaza and cross Egypt- (For them, it’s the land of freedom) I think they had to stay for days and I’m not sure whether they made it across the border or not. (They weren’t with us in the bus on the Egypt border.)

OTHER MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS:

-Our faces the moment the very first time we stepped on Israel from Egypt: It was so modern! Just look at all our smiles the moment we saw the malls, the big SUPERMARKETS (Yes! Now we won’t starve!) My goodness! They didn’t have that in Cairo! There were malls in Cairo like the Arkadia but they didn’t have much compared to Israel like Tower Records, Supermarkets (!).

-Our unsurprised faces the first time we met some of the Israelis (Like taxi drivers) in Eliat- They’re not so different from some of the Egyptians (Not counting religion), some of them are also sly, pushy and will overcharge you if they can. But coming from Egypt, we’re used to it already!

-How shocked we look when we saw how expensive Israel is! My gosh, 20 US dollars flows here like urination! In Egypt, 20 US dollars goes a long way!

-When we rode the Egged bus- we were meant to ride it with someone who smelled like eggs too. Maybe that’s why it’s called Egged. But it’s a comfortable bus- plus, they even allow doggies to sit there just like ordinary people! How cute. I wish I brought my golden retrievers here.

-How they drive here- we rented a car, it’s the best way to travel around! Driving in Israel is a breeze, they drive like turtles here and the highways are great. Boring… In Egypt, they’ll probably bump your car (Many of the cars there have scratches and bumps) and kill you if you’re a pedestrian!

-The first time I saw Jerusalem- I expected it to be a saintly, orderly Holy City full of pastors, I mean, isn’t that one of the holiest cities on earth? Well, I was part-right- it was really holy.
But it was also STRANGE and CRAZY!

This is one city where 3 races (Christian, Muslim & Jewish) have border lines within a small area. If you keep on walking from the Christian quarters (chaotic), you’ll eventually reach the Muslim (Also chaotic) and soon the Jewish. The Jewish border is the weirdest (But cleanest, least chaotic and nicest place to stay!) quarter- it’s the only quarter I’ve seen that has a check point like you’re really entering another country!
To make it even more chaotic- when either one of the races gets irked, the city becomes a war freak! I saw demonstrations, rallies and they do close the old quarters! I never had seen that in my life!

But to make it even more fascinating, this is the only city in the world that I’ve seen all 3 religions (Christianity, Islamic, and Judaism) perform their holiest rituals like, the Christians reenact the sufferings of Christ, the Islams bow down in front of the Dome of the Rock and the Jews kiss the Wailing wall. Very interesting indeed!

-The moment I felt a bit nostalgic for Egypt:

I mean, the food here is great, like Europe. What a relief, but I kind of miss the adventures of eating in Egypt. I also kind of miss the mess there, I mean; I find the chaos like the crowded bazaars filled with sheeshas, and the thrills and dangers of crossing the streets of Cairo filled with road kill drivers cute and fun. (And also exhausting!) I also miss how innocent the kids there were, like I miss how they stare at you if you’re Oriental, if you have braces and they don’t even know what a Gameboy is. Here in Israel, well, I guess it’s like America except they’re more aggressive and there’s more scammers here.

But, after going bananas with the supermarkets (The biggest supermarket I found in Cairo (In Talaat Harb area) was just a tiny food supply store!) in Tel Aviv, and after staying here for weeks, I eventually got used to Israel and now that I’m back in my country, I miss Israel too.

Okay, and now for the serious parts: (Kids, you can vomit now!)

Israel- Small and Terrible and Comparisons

Israel may be so small (It’s only 6 hrs to go from one end to another by car), but she sure is ferocious! Not only a strong economic powerhouse and a political hot spot, but Israel sure packs a big bite when it comes as a tourist destination too!

This is the only country in the world where 3 major religions (Being Christian, Islam and Judaism) literally live in- of course time to time there’ll always be tensions and arguments, discriminations (Thus demonstrations, rallies and so on,) but that even makes it much more fascinating. Think colorful, the perfect word for it:

Imagine, being in crazy Jerusalem, an ancient city that existed in the BCs, already modern but very fascinating- Christians from all over the world come and watch the reenactment of the sufferings of Christ by deliberately climbing the ancient and slipper steps of Jerusalem’s labyrinth and enter the tomb of Christ. The emotional and strong look of their faces and response (But not all Christians) the moment they see Christ’s tomb is compelling.

And it’s not only the Christians but also Muslims from all over world come to their 3rd holiest city to bow down and pray in front of the Dome of the Rock. Don’t forget to hear the wails, chants and prayers to Allah done every morning (Especially if you’re staying near the Dome of the Rock.)

And finally are the Jews, the only place in this world where you can see a good number of them roaming around Jerusalem with their unique Orthrodox fashion (Long beard, black hats, black coats and etc.) and doing their holiest act by kissing the Wailing Wall. All the 3 holy acts of these religions are equally fascinating.

And it’s not just the holy city and the culture- but Israel also offers much more to the average traveler: Like, the sophisticated casual city of Tel Aviv,(Which I call Middle East’s Version of Miami) the spas around the dead sea, and the nature retreats around Tiberias and the Golan Heights! Big plus! It’s also near Egypt and Jordan! Should you want to see Pyramids or Petra, it’s just an easy cross away!

And finally, Israel is safe- even if you drive. (You don’t have to worry about driving to the restricted zones, they’re all posted and mark well and the guards might not let you in anyway.) Yes there are bombings, demonstrations that occur time to time and the borders of Gaza, Lebanon and Syria may be a hotspot for trouble but you don’t have to worry about that. It’s all posted very well and in my opinion, I find Tel Aviv and Jerusalem safer (Unless you attend the demonstrations and so on.) than New York, Paris and even Manila.

Comparisons:

To Philippines- World aparts! But it’s worth noting that most of the Roman Catholics who attend mass here in Israel are Filipinos and that the priests here are already happy even if less than 10 people attend. They’re more spoiled in that sense in the Philippines: When only 150 people attend a mass in the Phil., the priest sure gets mad!

To America- It’s like America except there’s Jerusalem, the architecture is different and a good number of the people are more aggressive and a bit cheaper. (You can easily find a hostel here for 10 US dollars in a central location in Tel Aviv! In San Francisco, that’ll be 22 US dollars more!)

To Europe- The food is just as good, there’s no castles like Germany but there’s also Jerusalem. Hmm…They’re both different but it’s not so culture shocking.(Like comparing Europe and India for ex.)

To Egypt- It’s more expensive, but more convenient but there’s also no pyramids, ruins and chaos. Oh, and the red sea part in Egypt is much better.

To India- World’s aparts. The only thing they have in common is that the people are
Both pretty much aggressive.

Family’s comments:

Mom: I like Israel- it’s clean, modern and I like Jerusalem, it’s like San Francisco for me.
Dad: You can’t avoid Jerusalem- a photographers delight really!
Brother: I love the malls there!
Teenage Cousin: Yeah, I like Israel, it’s like America.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Modern, unique, clean and near to Jordan and Egypt!
  • Cons:Expensive
  • In a nutshell:Israel, She's Small and Surely Terrible!
  • Last visit to Israel: May 2005
  • Intro Updated Sep 14, 2007
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Comments (4)

  • gilabrand's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2009 at 10:43 PM

    Interesting to hear your views on Israel and Cairo. But if you liked it, why do you call it terrible?? By the way, it is not a hamaca, but a kippah that you are wearing.

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Feb 19, 2009 at 7:11 PM

    I want to wear a hamaca too! Looks like you had fun in Israel - what a trip! Your parents are too good to you! Kuya Norman :)

  • high_d's Profile Photo
    May 29, 2008 at 1:39 PM

    Happy Belated 20th Bday Mateo!!! You're no longer a teenager! Am sure your bday celebration was special since you're over in S.Africa! I am so envious:)) Hope you had a great bday and tell us all about it when you get back.Enjoy!

  • mariaschmidt's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2007 at 6:53 AM

    Very nice page about Israel and Egypt - you write very lively and interesting - bye Mary

matt10gonzalez

“Travel is boring unless you’re with my family.”

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