He didn’t plan on touring Israel during a pandemic, but that’s exactly where Mitch Bailis found himself. He had been sent to Tel Aviv on a business trip, and ended up experiencing what it is like to be a tourist in Israel during an unlikely time. Here is what he discovered.
To sum it up, Mitch describes his visit to Israel as being relaxing with no crowds. While he was unable to visit some of the hottest tourist spots, with major tourist attractions like restaurants, museums, and the Crusaders tunnels shut down, he was able to enjoy other locations without crowds.
Since he was sent by his work to the beach side city of Tel Aviv, he decided to spend his time abroad exploring the sites more like a local would. While he was there, the Knesset would change restrictions daily even among protests and objections. Mitch did his best to keep up with the changes and adhere to the rules set in place while he was there.
He ended up eating and traveling about the city more like a local. He discovered very quickly that the famous eclectic restaurants, trendy cafes, and clubs were closed. So, he learned how to eat like a local. He enjoyed Scwarma sandwiches, felafel, and schnitzel as well as other delicious cuisines. He walked along the narrow ancient cobble streets where merchants sell trinkets and found there were no crowds. Instead, when he did encounter a shop owner, he found he was greeted warmly and welcomed as if he was a long lost relative.
He made his way to the Wailing Wall and found that there were not even any lines there. This surprised him since he thought there was no better time to spend praying than in the midst of a pandemic. But, it was not crowded like it usually would have been.
He decided to travel about an hour outside of the city to the Caesarium. He traveled along Highwaywy 2/Kvish HaHof to visit the 2000-year-old Roman city. He found himself standing in the middle of the ancient amphitheater with empty seats surrounding him. He walked around visiting other sites with nobody else in view. He had the place to himself wherever he went. He also went to the ancient port and fortress of Akko. Again, there were no crowds, so he walked around for awhile to take it all in.
Ultimately, he enjoyed the lack of crowds. Without the tour buses and tourist-jammed museums, he was able to see things he may not have otherwise noticed or taken the time to explore. He didn’t have to worry about pickpockets or strangers showing up in his pictures that he took in the serene peace of an area he practically had to himself. He didn’t have to worry about potentially awkward customs of kissing a cheek, hugging strangers, or shaking a sweaty hand.
What started out as a business trip turned into an unexpected tourist opportunity. He was able to explore Israel on his own and is happy that he had the chance. Though, he does look forward to the day when he can go back and hit the tourist spots that he missed when they are once again reopened to the public.