Hello readers! Cheblogudo is back from a long-ish vacation in Israel and Cyprus (see pics below). Before we get back to our regular programming (plenty of odd news in the pipeline), here are a few travel notes in chronological order.
Zurich: didn’t really see much of the Swiss financial capital, but the city center seemed elegant, orderly, clean and safe (also less expensive than expected). Hopefully, Switzerland will be a destination in its own right in the near future.
Tel Aviv: an enjoyable and welcoming Mediterranean city. Would recommend. The white sandy beaches seem to go on forever. Still safe from mass tourism, although this looks like it’s changing based on the ubiquitous American accents on those beaches. Be prepared to hear such visitors refer to the Mediterranean as “the ocean” again and again. Room for improvement: food tends to be overpriced and unremarkable (with the notable exception of spicy shakshuka); getting around is more complicated than it needs to be (no Uber, except after sundown and on Shabbat). Pro tip: security lines at Ben Gurion Airport are actually not as bad as expected based on internet complaints (security for two different outbound flights took under half an hour each time), but be prepared for some very personal questions (give the agents the benefit of the doubt, as whatever they’re doing has resulted in a perfect safety record since the ’70s).
Jerusalem: a once in a lifetime experience. Further visits may not be necessary. Walking around the thousand-year-old streets of the aptly named (and very compact) Old Town is unique and exciting, especially for New World types. But it’s hard to shake off the religious Disneyland vibe created by modern kitsch peddlers. Favorite attraction: the Tower of David, a multi-layered fortress housing a thoroughly informative history museum.
Nicosia: the last divided capital in the world. Although, quite frankly, it’s hard to see why a sweltering provincial-looking small town has stirred up so much passion. Pros: the food – delicious and surprisingly cheap for an EU country. Cons: everything else. Favorite (and pretty much only) attraction: crossing the border on foot between the Greek and Turkish-controlled parts of town. Pro tip: the omnipresent graffiti will provide unique conversation topics (some examples below).