May 29, 2023

Journey Through Israel - Travel Documentary

Published May 13, 2023, 4:08 a.m. by Arrik Motley

Stef Hoffer's travel documentary "lifestyle - journey through israel" is an intimate and personal look at the country of israel. Hoffer's camera follows him as he travels through the country, meeting people from all walks of life and exploring the culture and history of israel. The film is a candid and often humorous look at Hoffer's own journey as he discovers more about himself and the country he is visiting. "lifestyle - journey through israel" is an insightful and entertaining travel documentary that will appeal to anyone who is interested in israel or in travel documentaries.

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Israel means a lot of different things to many people,

and is one of the most dynamic and diverse countries in the world.

While often associated with conflict and political unrest,

it's also a beautiful and fascinating place to travel to.

With stunning natural landscapes,

vibrant urban centers,

ancient historic sites,

and welcoming people.

On this journey, I'm traveling through the Holy Land,

an area important to the three main monotheistic religions,

and today known as Israel and Palestine.

In this second episode I'm exploring Israel,

a young country located in a region that has been at the crossroads of cultures and religions for millennia.

From the vibrant streets and beaches of modern Tel Aviv,

to the atmospheric alleys and religious landmarks of Jerusalem.

From surreal desert landscapes in the Negev, to the salty waters of the Dead Sea.

From the historic ruins of Caesarea, to the beautiful gardens of Haifa.

Along the way, I meet some of the people that call this land home, and sample some of the local food.

This is my first long trip after the pandemic started,

and I'm grateful for the chance to travel again.

It's also my second visit to the region,

and therefore I use both new and older footage for this video.

We begin this journey in Tel Aviv,

a modern, lively city known for its liberal and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

It's Israel's second largest city, and also regarded as an economic powerhouse and creative center,

attracting people from around the country, and the world.

Many travelers start their trip to Tel Aviv on one of its fabulous Mediterranean beaches.

The city has over 14 kilometers of beautiful coastline to explore,

offering a variety of activities, for young and old.

As you wander beyond the shore, you quickly enter the hustle and bustle of downtown Tel Aviv.

From airconditioned shopping malls and wide boulevards, to colorful outdoor art markets.

From trendy cafes and restaurants to corner kiosks,

offering much needed refreshments to the thirsty traveler.

The best ways to get around are on foot, or as many locals do, on two wheels.

One of the best ways to get around Tel Aviv is on bicycle, or moped, or even a scooter.

There's plenty of bicycle lanes and the city is very bike friendly.

One of my personal favorite places, both for food and atmosphere, is the Carmel market,

where everything under the Middle Eastern Sun is sold.

Alright guys, this is the Carmel market, one of Tel Aviv's busiest markets as you can see, especially today on a Friday.

It's buzzing with activity and gives a good idea of the energetic lifestyle many people in Tel Aviv enjoy.

While Tel Aviv is a young city and lacks the history of other places in the region,

the Jaffa neighborhood is a notable exception.

This ancient town has seen conquest and strife for centuries.

But is known today for its beautiful old city, a strong Arab influence, and bustling flea markets.

There are many ways to travel to and from Tel Aviv,

but perhaps the most interesting one is by bus.

I'm now walking through Tel Aviv's central bus station, which is soon to be demolished actually.

It's a mssive station, I believe the second largest in the world.

It has seven floors, (and) it has a theater that is no longer functioning.

It started as a very ambitious project, but it never really took off.

The station feels quite neglected at the moment, but also feels like a living museum,

where graffiti artists can do whatever they want.

Each floor has its own story and character, and you can walk around here for hours.

Just like you could spend days, or weeks, exploring the streets of Tel Aviv.

For me, however, it was time to travel to the North of Israel.

Not actually by bus, but through the nearby train station.

I'm now walking in Caesarea, one of Israel's best preserved Roman era ruins.

It's absolutely massive and there's all kinds of things to see,

including bathing houses, palaces, courtyards,

an old hippodrome and circus as well.

It's impressive.

Probably the most impressive, however, is this Roman theater, which can hold up to 4,000 people.

And it's still being used until today.

Caesarea's history dates back over two millennia,

when Herod the Great ordered the construction of one of the impressive ports at the time.

After his death, the city became the capital of the Roman province of Judea,

eventually to be devastated by the Mamluk sultan Beybars.

It's only recently that Caesarea has started to re-emerge.

Archaeologists have now uncovered a large part of the ancient port city,

providing a fascinating insight into historic times.

Today, it is a popular tourist sight, and also boasts some great cafes and restaurants.

Haifa, built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, is one of Israel's most beautiful cities.

Its top sight is the world famous Baha'i gardens, built across a total of 19 steep terraces.

Decorated with beautiful flower beds, fountains, statues, and lawns, it is truly an impressive sight.

It's also a religious place, important to people following the Baha'i faith.

There's a lot more to do in Haifa, but I only spend a few hours here,

before traveling on to other destinations.

This time by car.

As I continue my way North, I arrive in Akko, a stunning fortified city on the Mediterranean coast.

Akko's history goes back many centuries.

Alexander the Great was here, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Arabs of course as well.

Now it's a small Israeli town in the North of the country.

Absolutely beautiful narrow alleyways, very atmospheric.

Many of the alleys and streets of Akko are pedestrian only, and are a joy to explore.

From intriguing art galleries to the breezy city wall promenade.

From the small but attractive bazaar, to beautiful historic churches and mosques.

Many of the mosques are still used today, as Akko is home to a sizeable Muslim population.

For some of Akko's most captivating sights, you have to go inside, or even underground.

This intricate system of tunnels, built by the Crusader Templars, leads all the way to Akko's port.

And perhaps even more impressive is the Knights Hall,

where a medieval world is not that hard to envision.

We travel onwards to the Golan Heights,

located on a volcanic plateau in the Northeast of Israel.

It's a popular region for holidaymakers, offering beautiful nature reserves and charming villages.

The Golan are also very suitable for all kinds of outdoor activities.

A lot of people go cycling here.

I'm walking now on one of the many hiking trails, in a national park,

up to a waterfall, so let's have a look.

A big part of this hike is on this wooden boardwalk, next to this beautiful stream, shaded by trees.

Really beautiful.

While large parts of Israel experience a warm and dry climate,

this region actually receives considerable amounts of rainfall,

resulting in very different landscapes.

After a decent hike it's time for a well deserved lunch, in a small Druze village on the foot of Mount Hermon.

The Druze are an ethnic and religious minority, and have been living in this area for almost a thousand years.

With a full stomach, it's time to travel to the highest point in Israel, Mount Hermon.

Located at just over 2,200 meters, the way up here leads through some beautiful mountain landscape.

So the last part is by cable car, to get up to the Israeli part of the mountain.

It's quite high and quite windy, but also very beautiful.

Almost there.

Mount Hermon is a popular ski resort in Winter, when there is enough snowfall.

It's also a military, bordering Syria and Lebanon, and large parts are off limits to visitors.

The Golan Heights were captured from Syria in 1967,

after a fierce battle with neighboring states.

It was fought over again during the Yom Kippur war, six years later.

The vast majority of the population fled, and many of the towns and buildings were damaged and abandoned.

These days, a ceasefire is supervised by the United Nations,

reminding visitors of the tense security situation in the region.

After briefly visiting the towns of Tsfat and Tiberias, two holy cities in Judaism,

I arrive in Nazareth, one of Christianity's most important places.

It's also Israel's largest Arab city, and regarded as a prime cultural and culinary destination.

Good morning from a chilly but sunny Nazareth, in the North of Israel.

This is one of Christianity's holiest sites of course.

I'm walking on the grounds of the Basilica of the Annunciation.

Very impressive, probably one of the most impressive churches or basilica I've ever seen.

Many Christians believe the Basilica stands on the site of Mary's home,

and is the place where Angel Gabriel announced to her that she was expecting the Son of God.

You can spend hours soaking up the spiritual atmosphere, and admiring the unique building.

The Basilica is located in the old city of Nazarath,

an intriguing place to get lost in, with narrow streets and crumbling Ottoman era houses.

It's also a good place for breakfast or lunch, after exploring some of the holy sites.

I welcome everyone from Europe, from all the world, to come to Nazareth. The good people, the good food.

There are many other places worth your time in Nazareth, including the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation,

Mary's Well,

the White Mosque,

and my personal favorite, Nazareth Village.

This re-creation of a first century village gives visitors the chance to imagine life in the time of Jesus.

Few places evoke so much imagination as Jerusalem,

one of the world's oldest cities, and holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Walking into the Old City can be a magical experience,

and to many visitors feels like entering a different world, and era.

While Jerusalem is a spiritual and historic center, it's also a dynamic city,

where traditional lifestyles blend with cosmopolitian ideas.

To many tourists and pilgrims, the Old City is the most captivating and interesting part of Jerusalem.

It's divided into four quarters, the Christian, Armenian, Muslim, and Jewish.

It's in or near these neighborhoods that you find some of the holiest sites for the three main monotheistic religions.

The Western Wall is one of Israel's most famous sites, and the place where Jews from around the world come to pray.

It functions as a massive open air synagogue, attracting worshipers day and night.

It can feel both intimate and overwhelming,

especially on Jewish holidays, when crowds of people converge here to attend collective prayers.

While the Western Wall is truly impressive, its holiness is based on what lies behind it.

This area, referred to as the Temple Mount, was the location of the Second Temple,

which was destroyed in the year 70 CE.

Together with the First Jewish Temple, this is regarded the most important spiritual place in Judaism.

Due to entry restrictions, Jews are not allowed to visit here,

and have chosen to worship at the former Temple's outer Western Wall.

To Muslims, the Temple Mount is known as Al-Haram ash-Sharif,

and is home to two of Islam's most sacred buildings, the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the iconic Dome of the Rock.

It's regarded as the thrid holiest site after Mecca and Medina,

and holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many Muslims.

As a traveler, you have the chance to visit these grounds in certain hours of the day.

Not far from here is the Via Dolorosa,

the route that Jesus is believed to have taken on His way to crucifixion.

You can walk in His footsteps, all the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,

one of the most important churches in Christianity.

This is the place of crucifixion, where Christians believe Jesus died, and resurrected.

Jerusalem is also a contested place, and forms a crucial part in the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

While Israel controls the city and has made it its capital, many Palestinians also claim parts of these lands.

You will therefore see a lot of security around the city.

You can spend days, if not weeks, exploring the Old City,

but Jerusalem has many other characters as well.

Walking the charming Mamilla shopping street, for instance, shows its commercial face,

while the moving Yad Vashem teaches people about the Holocaust.

Other places to visit include Ein Karem village, Jaffa street, and the bustling Mahane Yehuda market,

which gives an insight into the city's love for food.

So this is the very center of the Mahane Yehuda market, one of the most lively markets in Israel, if not in the world.

They basically sell everything here.

Fresh foods, but (there are) also a lot of restaurants and little bars.

It's lively to say the least.

Because of its importance and its beauty, I will make a separate travel video about Jerusalem.

We continue our tour in Negev, a vast region in the South of Israel,

comprising of arid mountains and surreal desert landscapes.

Known for its ancient trading routes, stretching from historic Arabia to the Mediterranean,

today's Negev is best explored by car.

I'm now walking through the Ein Avdat national park, one of the few places in the Negev desert that has a lot of running water.

Quite a scarcity here of course.

Beautiful canyon behind me, so let's explore some more.

Hiking further into the park you pass streams, pools, and eventually reach a small, but beautiful waterfall.

I'm now walking on the edge of one of the waterfalls.

It's quite narrow, quite high as well, but a spectacular landscape.

There are plenty of other things to see in this part of the Negev, but I continue my way towards Mitzpe Ramon.

This town is built on the edge of a massive crater, called Makthesh Ramon,

which is nicknamed as the Grand Canyon of Israel.

A bizarre landscape of volcanic rocks and colorful sandstone, the crater was formed by erosion, around 220 million years ago.

It's a popular place for outdoor activities,

spotting wildlife, including the ibex,

or just enjoying the immensity of the place.

Driving South, I visit the welcoming kibbutz Neot Semadar, which feels like an oasis in the desert.

The concept of the kibbutz started over a century ago, as a collective effort to grow crops in a harsh climate.

And also from the wish to establish a Jewish homeland.

While agriculture formed the basis of the kibbutz, today many communities have diversified their activities.

In Neot Semadar, residents have created an arts center, but also run a winery, and offer various workshops.

Before arriving in Eilat, I visit two more nature reserves.

The narrow, mysterious Red Canyon, near the border with Egypt,

and the incredible Timna national park, filled with craggy mountains and sandstone columns.

Good morning from Eilat, I arrived here yesterday evening, after a long drive of course.

I'm now going to snorkel.

Eilat is located on the Red Sea, bordering with Egypt, and Jordan as well.

Very curious, very curious. Let's see.

The Red Sea is the world's northernmost tropical sea, and has a rich and diverse ecosystem,

with beautiful coral reefs and over 1,200 species of fish.

Even though it's located on the edge of the sea, Eilat still has plenty of marine life to explore.

Even for the clumsy, inexperienced snorkeler.

Very beautiful.

Eilat is also a popular holiday destinations for many Israelis,

offering affordable hotels, restaurants, theme parks, and tax free shopping malls.

I'm walking on salt now. I'm going into the water. Not for a swim, but for a float.

I'm now in the water as you can see. I'm floating, it's quite remarkable I have to be honest.

The Dead Sea is famous for its incredible high salt levels,

almost ten times higher than the ocean, the result of steady evaporation.

Its main source of water is the Jordan river, and there is no outlet, effectively making it a lake.

Living creatures, except certain micro organisms, can't survive here,

and people entering the water actually stay afloat.

It's important to avoid getting water in your eyes, or swallow it,

which is not only very painful, but can even be dangerous.

At the same time, the Dead Sea water is said to have healing powers, due to its minerals,

making it a popular destination for people who want to treat certain skin problems.

The Dead Sea's coastline is shared by Israel, Palestine, and Jordan,

and is currently situated 430 meters below sea level, making it the lowest point on Earth.

It's a place of breathtaking natural beauty, with turquoise, cobalt blue waters, and stark mountain scenery.

But the Dead Sea is also facing enormous challenges, as its water levels are receding at alarming speed.

And it's mostly human activity that is at fault, with water extracted for industrial and agricultural purposes,

and climate change accelerating the evaporation process.

Some of the consequences are visible in the former holiday town of Ein Gedi.

Sinkholes have swallowed parts of the roads and buildings, turning this village into a ghost town.

Despite attempts to stabilize the retreat, scientists fear that the Dead Sea's decline will continue for at least the next 100 years.

It's a stark reminder of what can happen when we treat Mother Nature the way we do.

And that concludes my journey through Israel, a diverse and eye-opening travel destination.

With captivating historic landmarks,

important religious sites,

spectacular natural landscapes,

and welcoming people.

I hope this video gave you some travel ideas,

or at least provided some new insights into this complicated, but fascinating part of the world.

Thanks for watching, and I hope to see you again next time.

Travel safely.


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