posted May 4th 2018
When taking breaks from our full-time charity work in Fiji & other places, Susan & I usually travel in cheaper countries, such as those in SE Asia. However recently we visited Greece, Cyprus & Israel that are all 1st world countries & basically beyond our budget. Israel is probably one of the most expensive places we have ever been to, however the Lord helped us to stay 6 weeks there with no accommodation costs whatsoever!
The story actually starts a few months before when we we were hitch hiking in northern Greece. We noticed we were getting picked up by a lot of Israelis on holiday, all of whom were very friendly & helpful. It turned out that one family that stopped for us was staying at the same guest house as us, & after telling them that we would be visiting Israel in Jan/Feb 2018, they kindly invited us to come & stay for 3 weeks in their kibbutz (commune), in the hills just outside Jerusalem — a wonderful experience!
However, we also needed places to stay in other parts of the country, from the Golan Heights in the far north to the Negev desert down in the south, as well as the West Bank, & are happy to say that we were able to stay, usually for 3 nights each time, with 10 different hosts from www.couchsurfing.com — an amazing organization that encourages international friendship & cultural exchange all over the world! We ended up staying with a wide spectrum of people, ranging from orthodox Jewish families to Palestinian Arabs.
Other strategies that kept our expenses down to a minimum were: avoiding eating in restaurants, (why spend a fortune when you can have a great picnic, often with a spectacular view point?!) Also, hitch hiking — we had thought that this might be difficult, given the political tensions in the area, but in fact the opposite was true & hitch hiking was probably the best we have ever experienced. We have great memories of getting picked up by just about every type of person you can imagine: orthodox rabbis with long beards & dressed entirely in black, military reserve personnel with machine guns & even hippies that offered to share their joints (marijuana) with us! Some days we traveled 200 kms or more, with as many as 8 different lifts, eg when hitch hiking from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea & back, or down to the Red Sea at Eilat.
All in all, it was a very memorable trip & we wouldn’t have missed it for anything!