Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and other Israeli cities

Tuesday, May 24 – Thursday, June 2

In late May, I traveled to Israel as part of the Birthright program, an incredible experience I would recommend to anyone who is eligible. The stringent requirements to stay with the tour group did not allow me to explore nearly as much as I would have liked. And we did not spend a lot of time walking around the cities. But here are a few non-expert observations about the Israeli urban environment:

Light rail bridge with pedestrian walkway in Jerusalem

  • Because Israel is such a relatively young independent state, much of their infrastructure and many of their public buildings are very new. For instance, I got to see Jerusalem’s brand new light rail system undergoing test runs. The beautiful new bridge that was built for the light rail system has an elegant pedestrian walkway attached along the outside. In general, Israeli cities felt very modern and westernized.
  • Many pedestrians I encountered were extremely pushy and impatient – even when they bothered to say excuse me, it was usually after they had already shoved their arm into me to push me out of their way. I noticed this phenomenon especially at the Shuk (the open-air market) in Jerusalem.

    The Shuk (open-air market) in Jerusalem

  • I saw very few people on bicycles. There does not seem to be much in the way of bicycle infrastructure (i.e. bike lanes, parking, etc.), which could be the cause or the effect of a lack of interest in this mode of transportation.
  • It was very cool to see people crowded outside bars in front of large outdoor screens projecting the Champions League final match between Barcelona and Manchester United. I wish we had more outdoor sports watching in the US.
  • All of the cities I traveled to – Haifa, Zefat, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Ra’anana, and Jerusalem had very beautiful natural settings with rolling hills, mountains, beaches, and/or coasts.

Overlooking the Port of Haifa

The Knesset - the Israeli Parliament building