tel aviv, israel

About two years ago, one of my best friends (and now bridesmaid), Maya, moved across the world to Tel Aviv (TLV). Although we keep in touch well, I hate having her so far away. This September, I got on a plane by myself to go visit her. After seeing her life there, I can see why she loves it so much. It's a unique city indeed.

Download this city guide (with GPS maps) on your smartphone here to have it handy for your trip!

The media portrays Israel as a scary place, as it's in the Middle East near tons of wars. I read some scary stories on the news before I visited and was a bit nervous (although I couldn't tell my parents that because they were so freaked out that I'm pretty sure they didn't want me traveling there in the first place!) Once I got there, I felt nothing but safe. As long as you are smart and observant, anyone traveling to Israel will feel safe. You need to act like that in any city in the world -- crimes happen here in San Francisco unfortunately, and in Europe, South America, Australia, etc. You can't be scared to take a leap and go somewhere out of your comfort zone, as danger is everywhere and you shouldn't ever live your life in fear.

I was pretty much in tears of happiness to see Maya when I arrived at her apartment. We hugged and caught up and laughed -- neither of us could believe I was actually in Israel to see her! Our friend Jessica who lives in New York, joined us for the Israel trip too. Maya was the absolute best tour guide. She brought us to the best restaurants, beaches, and markets. She took us to Jerusalem, Jaffa, and the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea was probably one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. Known as the Salt Sea, it's Earth's lowest elevation at 1,388 ft. below sea level. When you get in, you completely float. It's such a weird and cool feeling! Read more about the Dead Sea here.