So you want to have a real ‘Israeli’ experience???
Then let’s head to the ‘shuk’ or market. The market in filled with the sights and smells of Israel. Here is
the place where real peace exists, Muslims, Jews, Christians and more all work together side by side
with the fresh produce and the food stalls. Mahane Yehuda (or Camp of Judah) has been the big open
air food market in Jerusalem for over 100 years. A lot has changed though in the last 10 years, with
more and more trendy restaurants opening, allowing for a very busy night life even after the regular
shops have closed for the night. At the moment the hottest spot is Machneyuda, make sure you reserve
in advance otherwise you’ll be eat elsewhere. If you love to people watch then ask to be seated at or
close to the bar.
This is where you’ll find the freshest Falafal, the best Matbuha salad I ever had is from here, spicy, just
like the Moroccans like it. Don’t forget to visit the bakeries and the cheese vendors. If you’re staying in
a vacation apartment rather than a hotel you’ll really want to acquaint yourself with the shuk; it’s the
best place to pick up all you need. You’ll see people, young and old, wish little metal shopping trollies
called an ‘Agala’ and it might just be worth your while to buy one and fill it up. You can get great deals
at the beginning of the week and in the evening when they’re closing up or just before Shabbat on
Friday afternoon but you probably won’t want to leave it that long.
There are some really interesting characters like Uzi, the Yeminite naturopath who sells all kinds of
health drink concoctions, a shop that specializes in providing the Ethiopian community with their unique
spices and the best Rugalach (mini chocolate croissants) you’ve had.
If you’re look for a bit of a challenge then you can purchase a Bite Card on line and try and navigate your
way to a meal (each course at a different location). In the summer and during holiday time there are
lots of activities and streets performances going on. If you’re looking for a tour there is a great Shuk
Tour available to help you get to know Israel better through the food.
In an ancient place, an amazing find.
In 1968, while blasting through rock at the Har Tuv quarry outside of Beit Shemesh, workmen made an
amazing discovery. A 5000 metre cave of the most beautiful collection of stalactites and stalagmites in
the world. The result is the Soreq Cave, now located inside one of Israel’s National nature reserves. It is
found just outside the city of Beit Shemesh, in the Judean Hills. It’s a wonderful stop during a trip in the
area. There is so much to see, but we’ll get to some more of the things to see in the area another time.
The formations come in many shapes and sizes; coral, macaroni, cauliflower, mushroom, elephant ears
and many more. The most famous is a pair, one stalactite and one stalagmite, that almost met and then
stopped, it is known as ‘Romeo and Juliette’. The cave is monitored year long, for both temperature and
humidity. There has a wonderful lighting system that both protects the formations from algae and really
helps make the atmosphere incredible.
Many people come here to propose marriage since it’s such a magnificent sight. If you’re lucky you’ll
catch a romantic moment or make one yourself.
Here’s a great tip when visiting Israel; The Israel Park and Nature Reserves Authority sells passes for
multiple entry into their sites. They’re colour coded for length of time and number of sites. So when
you get to your first Israel Parks and Nature Authority site, buy a multiple pass to cover the time that
you’ll be in Israel; An easy way to save time and money.